Where's the Justice?
Get Out the Cannon!
Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
September 18, 2003
In a recent column I suggested in jest at the end of my statement that we ought to get out the flag of the Battle of Gonzales that displayed a disputed cannon and read: "Come and Take It"! Today I must reflect on the dismal state of affairs that attends one of our finest administrators being jailed on contempt of Court by a Harris County District Judge because he did his job. Yes, Leon Evans, Director of the Center for Health Care Services and a darn good one was thrown in jail for failing to make provisions here in Bexar County for a demented Harris County character by the name of Nathan Dale Campbell that gouged his girlfriend's eyes out! I will spare you the horrible details.
First of all: we don't want him. Secondly it ain't right! Harris County should take care of its residents and by the same token, we'll be big enough to take care of ours.
May 30, 2003: Judge Debbie Mantooth Stricklin, 180th District Court in Houston, ordered the San Antonio-based Center for Health Care Services ("Center") to provide, supervise and pay for out-patient mental health services in Bexar County, Texas. Our Center had no notice and therefore was not present.
June 18, 2003: Center first learns of the May 30, 2003 Order.
June 30, 2003: A Modified Order was entered requiring Evans and the Center to provide, supervise and pay for out-patient mental health care to Harris County resident, Mr. Campbell in Bexar County and to file a treatment plan with the Court. No testimony from physicians or mental health providers was taken regarding the services necessary to protect Nathan Dale Campbell and the community.
July 14, 2003: The Center filed a treatment plan prepared by Dean M. Faulk, M.D. which indicated that Mr. Campbell was at risk for further dangerous conduct and that the Center could not provide the necessary services in Bexar County.
July 24, 2003: Judge Stricklin indicated, by letter, a desire that our Center comply with the May 30, 2003 and June 30, 2003 Orders and suggested that failure to comply would result in the issuance of a show cause order (contempt motion).
August 1, 2003: Judge Stricklin issued a show cause order requiring Mr. Evans to appear before it on August 18, 2003.
August 18, 2003: Mr. Evans appeared in Court as ordered.
August 19, 2003: The court found, among other things, that the Center had adequate facilities and was able to comply with its June 30 order. The court further found Evans was "willfully and wantonly disobeying" its order and held him in contempt of court. The trial court remanded Evans to the Harris County Jail until he complied with its order! That evening, the court released Mr. Evans on a $5,000.00 personal bond.
August 28, 2003: Nathan Dale Campbell was released from the Kerrville State Hospital, most certainly to Bexar County! The Center has filed a Reply to the State's Response and is still awaiting a disposition on the Writ of Mandamus in the 14th Court of Appeals in Houston.
The basic thrust of this case appears to be that Judge Stricklin has criminal jurisdiction statewide but not mental health jurisdiction and therefore cannot reach over to Bexar County and house him here. Importantly, both the State and Bexar County finance Mr. Campbell's treatment here. Why is Bexar County being ordered to fund and otherwise handle what should be Harris County's responsibility?
I've written about how the Governor and the Texas Legislative leadership have just about crammed all the unfunded mandates (services historically underwritten by the State) they could down the throat of counties to balance their $11 billion short budget. Now we have a Harris County District Judge sending a demented Harris County character to Bexar County for us to do for one of Harris County's own what we don't have money to do here for one of our own. It's enough to make you want to, "Get out the cannon!"