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Analyzing The Eversole Resignation

Despite his legal troubles, the resignation of longtime Harris County Commissioner Jerry Eversole still came as a surprise to many. One local legal expert says it may be connected to a plea deal in his ongoing criminal case.


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After Commissioner Eversole tendered his resignation to County Judge Ed Emmett, the U.S. Attorney’s office filed court documents that suggest his departure was part of negotiations with prosecutors, in connection with his upcoming retrial on federal corruption charges.

Professor Gerald Treece is dean at the South Texas College of Law.

“I doubt the federal government just woke up one day and said, ‘let’s dismiss the bribery charges.’ The more logical pattern is, in exchange for the Commissioner’s resignation and guilty plea, to the charge to lying to law enforcement.”

Treece says it means he avoids another trial which was set to begin in a couple of weeks.

The Justice Department allege Eversole took nearly 100,000 dollars in cash and gifts from longtime friend Mike Surface, in exchange for lucrative county contracts to companies Surface was connected to. His first trial earlier this year ended in a hung jury.

Professor Treece says Eversole’s legal problems are far from over.

“The thing that’s left is a felony, and so I’m thinking that there’s some risk, but certainly not as much risk. If he went to trial again, discount all the cost of where he’s gonna get the money to come up with a defense fund, I just think there’s a high risk if he goes to trial again that he’d be convicted.”

Eversole’s successor will be named by Judge Emmett, after consulting with the other commissioners and Jared Woodfill with the Harris County Republican Party.

“That person will serve up until the November election of 2012. Also, that person will have to make a decision whether they want to run in the Republican primary, but right now the judge is soliciting names. He’s asking for input on anyone that we know of that’s interested in the position. I believe he’s gotten over 30 names, and ultimately, he’ll make the decision based on, I think, the feedback he gets from whole lot of folks.”

The 68-year-old Eversole was elected to his 6th four-year-term as commissioner last year.

His colleagues on the court had nothing but good things to say about him. He leaves his mark on an impressive park system, and loyal employees who helped him represent the one million residents in a precinct that covered North and Northeast Houston.

Longtime political analyst George Strong says Eversole may have been the victim of his own popularity.

“He’s made a lot of friends and I’m sure a lot of people will be missing him. But I think there’s always a problem if a politician is in office too long, they start believing their own press releases and they forget, there are some laws and regulations that there supposed to follow when it comes to their ethics.”

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