County attorney appears to reverse course on Eversole

Jerry Eversole submitted his resignation letter on Monday. His resignation is effective October 1.
April 5, 2011 4:44:38 PM PDT
Some encouraging news for indicted Harris County Commissioner Jerry Eversole who's accused of accepting bribes for a developer. The county's top lawyer says Eversole cannot be kicked out of office unless Eversole is convicted at his next trial.

For months we've heard about the possibility that Eversole could be thrown out of office, or "removed" as it's called, based on official misconduct. But now the County Attorney's Office has apparently changed its mind about that at the same time Eversole is back on the job.

Aside from a handshake and a slap on the back on Tuesday at commissioners court, no one talked about where Eversole has been for the last month. But he couldn't escape the allegedly corrupt deals that were the focus of his federal bribery trial.

While the feds accused him of conspiracy for voting for these very deals in the past, Eversole voted to renew the deals again today.

Before his PR minder pushed him from the room, Eversole told us there's nothing wrong with his votes this morning.

"Absolutely not, absolutely not. It's the same reason we said in court. The person that... anyway, I can't," Eversole said.

That was the last we saw of him. But not the end of our story.

"We are reviewing it to see if there is anything that needs to be done," said County Attorney Vince Ryan.

Since Eversole was indicted in early December, we've been asking the county attorney if he planned to try and remove Eversole from office for official misconduct.

"We have to be prepared for the removal," said Terry O'Rourke, First Assistant County Attorney.

On at least five separate occasions, Ryan's top assistant told us they were looking at all the evidence to see what should be done. Now, Ryan says his assistant was mistaken.

"The first assistant sometimes can be wrong," Ryan said.

Ryan told us there is no way he can seek to remove Eversole from office based on any of the evidence in the federal indictment because all the allegations happened before Eversole's most recent election.

"For acts that occurred prior to his election, he can't be removed from office," Ryan said.

In Ryan's eyes, the law wipes the slate clean after every election, so there's nothing he can do unless the feds present new evidence at the next trial.

Ryan did tell us Eversole should have reported some of the now well-known gifts from developer Mike Surface, but wouldn't weigh in on whether Eversole should've taken them.

"My personal opinion is trumped by my legal responsibility as the county attorney for the people of Harris County by and through the laws of the land. It would be inappropriate for me to give my personal opinion on matters still pending before the federal courts and still pending before my office," Ryan told us.

Ryan says he will review the transcript of the last trial to make sure his office didn't miss anything and will have staff at the next trial to see if any new evidence is introduced.

If Eversole is convicted, he will be forced out of his county job without Ryan having to act.

A federal judge ordered a new trial for Eversole today, but has not picked a date. We'll let you know as soon as he does so stay with Eyewitness News and abc13.com.


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