GEORGETOWN, Texas (KXAN) – The State Bar of Texas has publicly sanctioned Williamson County District Attorney Jana Duty for professional misconduct for intentionally withholding evidence from defense attorneys and violating a gag order in the same case.
According to the agreed judgment of probated suspension released by the State Bar’s Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel, Duty intentionally withheld evidence from defense attorneys in the murder case against Crispin Harmel, accused of killing Jessical Kalaher. The Evidentiary Panel, which Duty selected instead of a public court proceeding to hear the grievances filed against her, also found she intentionally violated a gag order imposed by the court in the Harmel case.
District Judge Rick Kennon had previously determined Duty withheld evidence in the Harmel case, which is still pending in his court, after the first trial was declared a mistrial over the withheld evidence. Harmel now awaits a second trial. Judge Kennon also found duty violated his gag order and talked to media about the Harmel case. Duty was found guilty of contempt of court and sentenced to 10 days in jail.
Duty agreed to an 18-month fully probated suspension of her law license, meaning she can still practice law as long as she doesn’t violate the law or any rules of professional misconduct during the probationary period. She must also comply with the minimum continuing legal education requirements of the State Bar of Texas and pay $3,250.00 in attorney fees to the State Bar.
It's not the first time Duty has been disciplined by the State Bar. In 2011, while serving as the Williamson County Attorney Duty released confidential information from an executive session of a Williamson County Commissioners Court meeting.
Duty recently lost her bid for re-election to attorney Shawn Dick. Since losing the election, Duty has largely been absent from work according to sources at the courthouse.
She has not responded to multiple attempts to contact her for comment.
Several business leaders and elected officials in Williamson Coutny are holding a news conference on Wednesday morning asking for Duty to resign.
“Williamson County leaders should be held to the highest standards of accountability, and our current district attorney has not lived up to those standards,” said Jim Schwertner, the owner of Schwertner Farms. “It’s time for this to end.”
"I plan to finish out my term. I have absolutely no plans to buckle to the will of my political enemies and resign early. They are simply wasting everyone's time," said Jana Duty in an email to KXAN.
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