Taxpayers are furious that former convicted Assistant District Attorney Don Bankston will be sworn in as newly chosen Associate Judge for 268th District Court Judge O’Neal Williams in Fort Bend County.

In November of 1984, Bankston was indicted by a grand jury on two felony counts. First felony count was theft by a public servant which carried a penalty of a 2-20 year prison sentence if found guilty. Second felony count was misapplication of fiduciary property which carried a 2-10 year prison sentence if found guilty.

Read the case for yourself online at www.fortbendcountytx.gov, then click on “I want to search for court records.” Then click on “criminal case records” and click on “Search by case.” This is the case number: 84-DCR-015186.

The district attorney at the time turned the investigation over to the Prosecutor’s Council, in which a full investigation was done. Seven individuals testified before a grand jury and a two-count indictment was handed down. Bankston was even allowed to listen to the audio recording of the hearing!

In typical form, this case drags on until July 1987, where visiting State Judge Allen Stilley dismisses the original theft indictment and transfers Bankston’s $1,000 bond to the new two-count indictment. Grand jury re-indicted Bankston on same felony charges which carried the same penalty if found guilty. (Case#84-DCR-015186A.)

In an agreement to preserve Bankston’s law license so he could continue to practice law, Bankston pleaded guilty on Sept. 21, 1987, to a reduced charge of recklessly misapplying funds and received six months probation.

Special prosecutor Jim Leitner handled the nearly three-year-old case and told state district Judge Stilley in a motion that the misdemeanor charge was all he would be able to prove to a jury.

So let’s fast forward to what is happening now. Bankston is a convicted criminal regardless of the plea deal.

Why would he be allowed to adjudicate any case? Why would taxpayers pay one red cent to Bankston? He pleaded guilty to being a thief. Now we want him in charge of cases? Why?

The whole thing is dirty, good ol‘ boy play.

Denise Robbins

Fulshear

Editor's Note: Mr. Bankston pleaded guilty to misapplying fiduciary funds and was offered deferred adjudication probation, in which judgement was deferred to later, if ever. He successfully completed his probation and he was not judged and therefore cannot be considered a convicted criminal.

(1) comment

Staff
Scott Reese Willey

The letter to the editor included a false statement. Mr. Bankston was never convicted of a crime. Although he pleaded guilty to a lesser offense, he was offered deferred adjudicated probation. Under deferred adjudicated probation, judgment is deferred until later, if ever. If an offender successfully completes the terms of the probation, he or she is not judged and therefore will not have a conviction on their record. Mr. Bankston successfully completed his probation and was never judged and therefore never convicted. Below is the Page 1 story in the Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019 issue of The Herald that corrects the error. — Scott Reese Willey, editor, fort bend herald

BY SCOTT REESE WILLEY

swilley@fbherald.com

A Harris County assistant district attorney who prosecuted Don Bankston 32 years ago for a misdemeanor crime said Monday he sees no reason why the Richmond attorney shouldn’t serve as an associate district court judge.

Jim Leitner, responding to a letter to the editor published in Monday’s issue of The Fort Bend Herald, said Bankston’s half century of legal experience makes him as qualified, if not more qualified, as anyone for the post.

Bankston will be sworn in next Monday at 3 p.m. as an associate court judge for O’Neal Williams’ 268th District Court.

Bankston was serving as an assistant district attorney in Fort Bend County when he was indicted in November 1984 by a grand jury on felony charges of theft by a public servant and misapplication of fiduciary property.

He pleaded guilty to a lesser offense of recklessly misapplying funds, which in essence means he mishandled money he was responsible for.

The letter writer wanted to know why taxpayers should pay a convicted criminal and why someone who had pleaded guilty to a criminal offense should be allowed to pass judgment on others.

However, Leitner said Bankson was never convicted of a crime but was given deferred adjudicated probation.

Under deferred adjudicated probation, judgment is deferred until later, if ever.

Offenders who successfully complete deferred adjudicated probation are not judged, and therefore have no criminal conviction.

Leitner, who was appointed as a special prosecutor by a Fort Bend County district judge to prosecute the case to ensure impartiality, said Bankston successfully completed his probation.

“After a thorough investigation, the prosecutor found no evidence of any intent on my part to conceal, defraud, harm or commit theft, but a reckless misapplication of funds by me,” Bankston told the Herald on Monday.

“The intentional act was dropped from the indictment. I was never convicted of any crime.”

He said his probation was terminated after only 58 days and the case was dismissed.

Bankston said he was battling alcoholism in the mid-80s and it caused him to make reckless decisions.

He said he underwent treatment for his disease and hasn’t touched a drop of alcohol in the past 30 years.

Since those dark days, he says he has served as an honorable member of the legal community.

“Since then, knowing what happened, Republican judges have appointed me to the highest cases in this county, including five capital murders, and none of (the defendants) ever received the death penalty,” he said.

Dredging up an incident that happened three decades ago smacks of politicking, Bankston said.

“On the civil side, (District Judge) Tommy (Culver) appointed me to be ad litem for minors and I handled settlements to minors in the tens of thousands of dollars in each case. They entrusted me with the funds because they knew they could trust me to see to it to get the money in the hands of the minors.”

“Tommy Culver believed in redemption, I guess (the letter writer) doesn’t.”

Before accepting the post as associate judge, Bankston said he fully informed Judge Williams and District Attorney Brian Middleton about his past history and “they also believe in second chances and they are well aware of my record as a trial lawyer and the success I’ve had as a lawyer over the past 46 years.”

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