By Hailey Persinger
Killeen Daily Herald
Killeen attorney Dan Corbin defended the City Council's appointment of William Gibson as presiding municipal court judge Thursday in response to accusations of racism during the selection process.
At Tuesday's Killeen City Council meeting, Councilman Billy Workman voiced his concern that council members deliberately overlooked Associate Municipal Court Judge Gregory Simmons, a minority, for the position that had been left vacant since June when former Judge Barbara Weaver retired.
At the same meeting, council members JoAnn Purser and Kenny Wells denied that the council made a collective decision based on race and asserted that their appointment of Gibson, who is white, was based on his interview and performance as interim judge since June.
Corbin, a former Killeen City Council member, attempted to bolster their claims at a news conference Thursday when he released paperwork that alleges Simmons' involvement in a forged power of attorney case.
According to those documents, Army Capt. Robert Tindall was deployed to Iraq when his now ex-girlfriend consulted with Simmons about obtaining power of attorney over Tindall's assets. In a letter to the State Bar of Texas, Tindall wrote that he never authorized such action and that Simmons notarized the power of attorney during his deployment.
Corbin said that though he was not aware that any of the council members knew of the allegations against Simmons prior to Thursday, Simmons' involvement in what he called "somewhere between not very ethical and highly unethical" practices reinforces Purser's and Wells' statements on the role of race in the selection process.
"I believe that revealing these facts … certainly underscores … the decision," Corbin said.
While Corbin said that releasing information about the case earlier would have "tainted" the selection process, Workman alleges that such information was "conveniently" presented to the public.
"What Mr. Corbin is alleging is nothing – no charges, no nothing," he said. "You're going to all of a sudden blame this cloud over his head? It's a sign of biasness."
The council began its search for a new presiding judge in late September with 22 applicants. After a series of committee meetings, the candidates were narrowed down to four – Gibson, Simmons and two women – and interviewed by the entire City Council. The council officially appointed Gibson Tuesday after several weeks of negotiations.
The city of Killeen released a statement Thursday afternoon in response to Corbin's release of information, asserting that while Simmons does work for the municipal court, "Mr. Corbin's allegations pertain to Simmons' private practice; therefore the City of Killeen has no comment."
As associate judge, Simmons is considered a part-time employee and handles teen court cases and fills in for the municipal court judge when they are unavailable.
Gibson is slated to begin his four-year tenure as municipal court judge Jan. 4.
Contact Hailey Persinger at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7568.