Cagle appointed as Eversole's replacement for Precinct 4 county commissioner


On Monday morning, Judge Emmett announced Judge R. Jack Cagle as Eversole's replacement. Cagle, a Harris Co. Civil Court at Law judge since 2000, was chosen from a list of more than 70 people who were being considered after Eversole tendered his resignation as part of the plea deal.

Judge Emmett said he relied on several criteria for his appointment including mature judgment, keen intellect and someone who is focused on the job at hand.

The county judge said Cagle is the kind of person who can rise above some of the "chit chat that goes on in commissioner's court" which Emmett said he dislikes. Emmett described what he called Cagle's "judicial demeanor" and said he is someone who is "in touch with the residents of Precinct 4."

Cagle said he knows Precinct 4 well.

"I've lived and breathed and campaigned in Precinct 4 -- it is my precinct," Judge Cagle said during the press conference. "As a commissioner, you get to look to the future, you get to build, and that thrills me."

As Precinct 4 county commissioner, Cagle, also known as "Cactus Jack," will be accountable to 1.2 million constituents -- that's more than the governors of 10 states.

"In terms of being a reformer, that means I'm going to look at government with a fresh perspective," Cagle said. "I'm not going to come in and do a lot of layoffs... if it's not broke, don't fix it."

Immediately, Cagle had to defend questions about his residency.

His law practice office was in the precinct, however his previous residence was not in Precinct 4 -- a point critics raised early in the process of selection that started September 19. Cagle and his family lived in a house in far northwest Harris County in Commissioner Steve Radack's district.

The law does require Cagle to live in the district, and based on his recent move into a new home, he says he is in compliance with state law.

"141002 of the Texas Election Code states that on the day of your appointment you have to live in your district. I was on the edge of the precinct and with the redistricting I moved. I am now a resident," Cagle said.

Cagle moved to this house in Precinct 4 only recently, well short of the standard six months residency requirement. But Judge Emmett points out that state law waves the requirement if the county has recently undergone redistricting.

"In the case of Jack Cagle, he had lived in the precinct, he had been out of the precinct, it had been drawn one way a couple of times... but the statue now is very clear that if the commissioner's court within the last six months has adopted a final order for redistricting, then the only residency requirement is live in the precinct on the date of the appointment," Judge Emmett said.

The county attorney, a Democrat, also defended Emmett, a Republican, and his appointee.

"You can clearly live in a rental residency. He clearly moved, and that satisfies that," said County Attorney Vince Ryan.

As for Cagle's new neighbors, at least one says he's just glad to move on from the Eversole controversies.

"We needed somebody in the position; obviously the guy we had is no good, so this guy seems to have a decent reputation," said neighbor Doug Holland.

Cagle is a graduate of Rice University and received his law degree from Baylor School of Law. He was elected to the bench in 2000 and has presided over hundreds of civil cases, but said he is glad to be laying down his robe.

He will be officially sworn in Tuesday morning and will serve the remainder of Eversole's term which ends November 2012.

On Friday, Eversole ended a 20-year career with a guilty plea to lying to a federal agent, part of a plea deal that got the other charges dropped against him for allegedly taking $100,000 in gifts from developer Mike Surface in exchange for county contracts.

Surface admitted he gave Eversole $80,000 cash for Eversole's new home in the Heights with the intent to influence the county.

Eversole could go to prison for six months. Sentencing is in January. But Eversole's attorney says he leaves this office with honor.

"Not one single person testified then and not one single person would have testified if we had another trial that Jerry Eversole ever did anything in his office in return from anyone -- Mike Surface or anyone else," said Eversole's attorney Rusty Hardin.

Some of the well-known names that had been on Judge Emmett's list included State Rep. Debbie Riddle, Houston City Council Member Mike Sullivan, former county commissioner Sylvia Garcia and former Houston Chronicle sports columnist Mickey Herskowitz.

Stay with Eyewitness News and for the latest on this story.


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