When attorneys start “eating their own” over mental health issues.. have we hit bottom ?

More filings made in lawsuit against Dallas County DA Susan Hawk


Dallas County District Attorney Susan Hawk asked a state district judge on Monday to throw out a lawsuit that seeks to remove her from office.

And attorneys for the the ex-employee who filed the case against Hawk amended their allegations to emphasize that the district attorney’s depression and prescription drug use continue to make her unfit for office.

The legal back-and-forth comes just over two weeks after Hawk returned to work after a two-month stay at a psychiatric hospital for severe depression and the week after a high-profile attempt to remove her from office.

Fired administrative chief Cindy Stormer filed the petition to oust Hawk, citing the DA’s mental health issues and previous treatment for prescription drug use as key evidence that the DA is incompetent. She also alleges financial misconduct.

But on Monday, Hawk’s attorneys derided those accusations and asked the court to dismiss the case.

In paperwork filed with the court, Hawk’s lawyers, Dan Hagood and Charla Aldous, argued that Stormer is not eligible to represent the state of Texas in any official capacity. They said that if the case moves forward, the Commissioners Court should appoint a county attorney from an adjoining county to represent the state.

They also argued that the Hawk cannot be kicked out of office because she is protected by federal laws that are intended to prevent discrimination based on a mental illness.

One of Stormer’s attorneys said Monday that the Americans With Disabilities Act does not apply because people who are able to function well with therapy and medication do not meet the standard for a disability.

“If Ms. Hawk is claiming that the ADA applies, it is an admission that her current mental illness cannot be stabilized through medications and therapy,” attorney Kelly Puls said in a statement.

Puls and his law partner, Mark Haney, also amended their lawsuit Monday in an attempt to bolster their request that a judge temporarily remove Hawk from office until the case can go to trial.

“DA Hawk’s depression and severe mental illness has caused her to be derelict and absent from office for extended periods of time and unable to perform the duties required,” the suit now says. “Hawk’s mental illness and drug use continues to incapacitate her ability to perform the duties … or to understand those duties.”

A rarely used provision in the law allows almost any Dallas County citizen to seek to remove an elected official from office for incompetency, official misconduct or intoxication, on- or off-duty. To support the claim of incompetency, Stormer would need to prove that Hawk has a serious physical or mental “defect” that did not exist at the time she was elected.

Hawk’s attorneys say that’s impossible because she had depression and Attention Deficit Disorder before the election. Stormer’s attorneys say the DA’s condition worsened significantly — to the point that she sought in-patient treatment — only after she took office.

The civil suit was filed in the 101st State Distict Court, where Judge Staci Williams presides. The judge could ask for a hearing or make a ruling soon, possibly as soon as this week.

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