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Fort Bend County, At Large
By Cheryl Skinner

This column expresses the personal opinions/views of the writer. If you would like to express your opinions/views regarding the column, write a SIGNED letter to the editor. Name can be withheld by request with a valid day time phone number.


 
Getting both sides to a story

Every reporter worth their salt believes in the need to get both sides of a story. Sometimes it is easier said then done. Other times it is flat out impossible.

Yet, some public officials think if they don’t speak to the issue, a newspaper will not run the story.

Wrong!

Last week I was moderately chastised for not getting comments from Assistant District Attorney Michael “Mike” Elliott after an official court document focused on his role in a criminal case.

Well, to be honest, I don’t hold out a whole lot of hope when it comes to Elliott returning phone calls. In fact, I’m still waiting for him to call me back on a story published months ago.

So far, no return calls, no response to the story that was reluctantly done without benefits of “the other side.”

As I told my slightly miffed critic, not getting a response does not negate the statements in an official, sworn to, court document. It isn’t hearsay..it is an official court record—for goodness sake.

I was told the motion filed by the defense attorney was inaccurate—but public officials with knowledge of the case just couldn’t comment on “pending cases.”

Well, then quitcherbitchin.

Maybe I’m wrong but it appears to me that Elliott’s name keeps coming up in these cases that involve friendships or business relationships with the plaintiff.

There was the infamous Holden Roofing fiasco and allegations similar to those being made in the most recent case also surfaced in a case involving the Fulshear Mayor.

And, it appears to me that a public official who operates a private business on the side, should have the personal integrity not to get involved in a corresponding criminal case.

District Attorney John Healey is extremely loyal to Elliott. He says the State Bar of Texas has ruled that a prosecutor can have a private practice outside of his or her prosecutorial position.

Healey says he can’t discuss the elements of a pending case either and notes that Elliott was not a prosecutor “at any time” on the Sula case.

Well, that’s not what one of the documents on ADA Michael Elliott’s wife, District Clerk Annie Elliott, shows on the court connect website. Michael Elliott is shown as the prosecutor in the money laundering case, while Assistant DA Scott Carpenter is shown on the felony theft case.

Sula may well be some kind of scam artist who preys on trusting (and dumb) females. If so, I hope they throw the book at him.

However, it makes it really hard to accurately justify the elements of a case, resulting charges and astronomical bail unless someone is willing to discuss this case.

For the time being it appears that someone has turned what clearly looks like a pretty hefty civil case into a serious felony case.

Sula’s attorney says he is quite confident that when the case does go to trial, the jury will determine the case should have been filed as a civil case and will fail to convict Sula on the criminal charges.

Healey seems to be just as confident that when the case is heard everyone will understand the probable cause for the indictment, long jail time and huge bond.

That all remains to be seen.

Sadly, it also appears that until this is hashed out in court, stories written will be somewhat lopsided.

 

Contact skinnerc1@tconline.net, if you would like to express your opinions/views regarding the column. Write a SIGNED letter to the editor with valid day time phone number--name can be withheld by request.

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   Last Update:  December 03, 2008