against Means, but they did write a report saying that Moore had adequate cause to file assault charges against Means. Strangely enough, the grand jury’s main criticism was directed at Emmett Lack. The jury absolved Sheriff Paine and the Texas Ranger of any dereliction of duty in failing to arrest Means on the grounds that they did not witness the beating. The man who should have taken action, the report said, was County Judge Lack, who witnessed the crime and had the authority to arrest Means. Moore says he hopes that Coe’s opponent, County Atty. George Kirkpatrick, will win and that Kirkpatrick will resubmit the matter to a grand jury. If that doesn’t happen, then Moore says he will personally file charges against Means before the two-year statute of limitations is up. It was during this grand jury session that the dirty pictures first popped up. There were rumors that they were slipped under the door of the jury room. But Mrs. Dorothy Overstreet, a grand juror from Lumberton and possibly the only Republican in Hardin County, told reporters that the pictures had been circulated by an individual. She said that she’d be afraid to say who distributed them. This left the impression, at least to the Enterprise reporters who interviewed her, that Coe had shown the photos. Coe, however, told the Observer that it was Overstreet herself who handed them ’round because she wanted everyone to know what kind of a judge Hardin County had. This April another set of pictures was sent into a grand jury. Coe said one morning he found a sealed brown envelope on the seat of his pickup truck. The envelope was addressed to the assistant attorney general. Coe obligingly delivered them to an assistant a.g., he can’t remember the name. Coe said he stood there while the man opened the envelope and pulled out the photos and then Coe left. “If the grand jury saw the pictures, then they were presented by an assistant attorney general,” Coe said. Now, there is some reason to question why a Hardin County grand jury should have any interest at all in photos taken in a foreign country. This is the way that Moore explained the plot in the April 15 Kountze News: “For several years now, certain political forces have attempted to beat Lack at the ballot box. And even though he has had a close call or two, he has always stood the test of the majority and been re-elected. “There are provisions, thought [sic], whereby a county official can be removed from office if moral turpitude can be shown. Remember, the word is removed, not impeached. Officials on the state and district level are ‘impeached,’ but county officials are ‘removed from office’ and moral turpitude can be a valid reason for doing so. “It is possible that the pictures were brought in and shown the grand juries in an effort to lay the groundwork for moral turpitude charges. Almost like saying `if we Beaumont Enterprise Moore: Better a letter can’t beat him at the ballot box, we’ll beat him with character assassignation [sic].’ ” While Coe may not have had anything to do with show,ing the pictures to the grand juries, he most definitely taped a set to the courtroom wall. He won’t say where he got that set. “I will tell you that I didn’t have to call but three people before I found copies of those pictures,” he said. “A private citizen gave them to me with the understanding that his name not be used.” No one, of course, will fess up to getting the pictures taken or bringing them back from Nuevo Laredo. Stanley Coe wasn’t there. Hugh Bevil Means denies any part in the adventure. Sheriff Paine told the Observer, “I haven’t seen the photos. I didn’t take ’em and I didn’t show ‘ern.” There reportedly is at least one other set of ,Boys Town photos of an East Texas politician who went hunting with EasTex. Both Thompson and Lack mentioned the existence of these embarrassing pictures. Thompson sees a company plot. “I don’t think Means or Paine did it. I think EasTex did it.” he said. “I think they’ve got files on a lot of other people.” Lack said ambiguously, “I don’t think EasTex is involvedmainly because I’ve got two boys who work for them.” F. M. Hammack, the chief executive officer of Temple-EasTex in Evadale is new to Texas and to Hardin County politics. He seemed bemused by the allegations. “The first I heard of the pictures was in The Silsbee Bee,” he said. “I’m sure they didn’t originate with our people. As for the allegation that we have files on people, that’s ridiculous. I don’t know where we could have them.” Lost in the furoras Dist. Atty. Coe and the Silsbee paper think it was meant to beis the grand jury investigation. Lack says the investigation is politically inspired and orchestrated by Coe. The idea, according to Lack, is to embarrass him and his ally, County Atty. Kirkpatrick, who is challenging Coe for the D.A.’s job. Coe says he has nothing whatsoever to do with the investigation. The grand jury was given an extension of its term April 1 by the district judge. The attorney general entered the case on the request of the grand jury foreman. Coe is not sitting in on the deliberations. He hasn’t been thrown out of the jury room, Coe emphasized. He asked to be excused from the proceedings in order to remove any taint of politics. This is the way it all started according to Coe: “A few months ago the captain of the Department of Public Safety in Beaumont complained about the number of DWI [drunk driving] cases dismissed in Hardin County for insufficiency of evidence. The captain came to my office and a couple members of the grand jury mentioned the problem, but I didn’t take the matter to the grand jury. I did suggest to the captain and the grand jury that they could call on the attorney general. I said that the attorney general’s office should represent them on matters concerning local officials.” To date, some 40 to 50 subpoenas have been issued, primarily to individuals who have been up before Judge Lack on charges of DWI and/or hot checks. The jurors apparently are interested in not only the cases dismissed but also the hundreds of cases in which the court-appointed attorney was none other than Houston Thompson. In January, 1975, Lack’s county criminal court, which deals only with misdemeanor charges, disposed of 1,500 cases and collected more than $96,000 in fines and court costs. \(Lack said that an average of one DWI case and four cases of all kinds are Each fine included a $50 fee for a courtappointed attorney. In one day’s mail, Thompson recieved $1,800 in fees from Lack’s court. There’s speculation in Hardin County that the grand jury wants to make sure that Thompson actually represented every client for whom he was paid. There is also a rumor that Lack is particularly worried about documents of an unknown nature that he signed. Apropos of nothing, Lack told the Observer that so many documents cross his desk there is “no way” he could read everything he signs. “l’m not a detail person,” he said. Lack alsounsolicitedemphasized in a separate interview with Beaumont reporter Dan Green that he could not read all the documents he signs. It seems to be a subject on which Lack is unusually sensitive. Lack explained the 1,500 January cases during a press conference. “In order to move that many cases that rapidly we had to streamline the pleas of guilty cases. I had as many as eight court-appointed attorneys working in my office at a time filling out the papers necessary to handle the cases. We worked for five days without letup to get these cases tried and we succeeded. Of course, at $50 a case, some attorneys drew a good check when the fees were paid. But remember these fees were made at $50 per May 7, 1976 5
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