SAN ANTONIO - District Attorney Susan Reed is now investigating Justice of the Peace Keith Baker. She’s been asked to research what it would take to remove Baker from his elected position.
“I got a call from the DA shortly after your piece saying – ‘How the hell is this happening? What are we going to do about it,” Commissioner Kevin Wolff told us.
Trouble Shooter Mireya Villarreal was the first to uncover JP Keith Baker was refusing to issue warrants after losing a clerk position during last year's budget cuts. When the county cut that one clerk position in Judge Baker's court his warrants went from more than 11,600 in 2011 to 122 this year. That drop has cost the county more than $750,000.
Commissioner's Court is now trying to figure out what they can do to get his office back on track. The court seemed to be interested in several possible remedies today:
- Abolish JP Baker's current position; however, the county would have to keep paying him until his term was up in 2014
- Create another Justice of the Peace Court for Precinct 3 and shift all of Baker's resources to that new spot. The theory is - If he's not doing his job he doesn't need staff to support him
- Ask District Attorney Susan Reed to consider filing a lawsuit against JP Baker to remove him from office
"From my perspective, the best thing that could happen is this current Justice of the Peace leaves his office today,” Commissioner Kevin Wolff told us. “We create a full-time JP position and turn all his staff over to it and start doing the job he was elected to do in the first place."
If some of these ideas sound familiar it's because in 2004 the DA's office filed a lawsuit against an Alamo Community College District Trustee (ACCD at the time), Vincent Lazaro, for not showing up to board meetings. Lazaro eventually resigned. And in 2001 Bexar County Commissioner’s Court abolished Precinct 5, which included a constable's position and a Justice of the Peace court.
[Note: That decision was originally made by Bexar County Commissioner’s Court in 2001, but challenged in federal court. In 2004 the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans upheld the decision, allowing Bexar County to abolish Precinct 5.]
We did reach out to Justice of the Peace Keith Baker, but he did not return our calls today. More than likely the Commissioner’s Court will make a decision about this situation on September 11, when next year’s budget is voted on.