Proving innocence trumps Brown’s run for judge
Last updated 4/10/2018 at Noon
For The Record
Don Brown refused to say Tuesday that he had “officially” withdrawn from the Nov. 6 election for Orange County judge, but the Vidor resident made it clear his political ambitions are on the backburner.
“The future of Orange County has to come second to me and my husband’s lives,” he said. “I’ve got to get around a felony conviction first; there’s no way of avoiding prison if you get found guilty of this.”
Late last week, Brown and his husband, Daniel Spencer, were each charged with felony injury to a child, which is punishable by up to 99 years or life in the state prison.
While maintaining their innocence, the two turned themselves in to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office Monday and were released on $10,000 bond, each.
Brown said the indictment came more than a year after an investigation he thought had been resolved in their favor.
And it came on the very same day that County Judge candidate Dean Crooks fired the first shots in a possible lawsuit to have Brown thrown off the Nov. 6 ballot.
KBMT-TV Channel 12 News reported Friday that Brown said the criminal charges were “politically motivated,” but Brown has adamantly refused to address the possibility on the record since.
He said Tuesday he was hopeful District Attorney John Kimbrough would re-examine the case.
He said he and Spencer are innocent of harming the child they were raising under a custodial agreement with a birth parent.
“I’ve heard Mr. Kimbrough is a man that values integrity,” Brown said. “It is my belief, and my attorney’s belief as well, that Mr. Kimbrough did not receive all the information and once he does, this situation will most likely be corrected in a positive direction.”
Beaumont attorney Bruce Smith is representing Brown.
Brown said Child Protective Services was twice called by Vidor school officials to investigate dark marks on the child’s backside, the first time in late 2016, the second early last year.
Brown said he was told by a school nurse that the child had the symptoms of something called allergic purpura and the injury was more of a viral rash.
He said CPS cleared the couple after the first time and he believed all was in order again until he heard of the indictment Thursday.
“I’ll bet they did not present exculpatory evidence to the grand jury,” Brown said, “that the CPS forensic scientist ruled this was a medical reaction, not from physical abuse.
“We actually received a letter saying we had been cleared. That was a year and a half ago. The second person never did an actual investigation.”
The grand jury charged Brown did “knowingly, recklessly and with criminal intent,” cause bodily injury with a belt.
Brown was set to take on Crooks in the Nov. 6 general election. Crooks defeated incumbent Stephen Brint Carlton in the March 6 Republican primary.
Friday evening, Brown told The Record Newpapers he was withdrawing from the county judge race “to refocus on rebuilding my personal and business life.”
Tuesday, when asked if he had completed his withdrawal paperwork, Brown said his attorney “is still reviewing it.”
Crooks and Orange County Republican chairman David Covey have maintained since the March 6 primary that Brown should not be on the Nov. 6 ballot, citing his failure to pay his filing fee on time.
Beaumont lawyer Mike Getz filed, on Crooks’ behalf, a “Petition to Depose” Brown and Orange County Democratic Party officials John Baker and Michael Cole “to investigate a possible suit” to have Brown “removed from the ballot.”
“He shouldn’t be on the ballot,” Getz said in an interview at midday Friday. “The Democratic Party should not have certified him to be on the ballot.
“The fact of the matter is he’s going to have much more to worry about in the next few days.”
Getz, a Beaumont city councilman, said he has only known Crooks, a former Beaumont police lieutenant, for about a month.
Asked why an Orange County political candidate would hire a Jefferson County lawyer, Getz said, “I think he understood that I have a background in dealing with governmental entities.”
Getz was a longtime critic of the Beaumont school district and filed multiple lawsuits against it prior to it being taken over by the state in 2014.
“What I’ve been hired by Dean Crooks for is completely unattached to criminal problem Donald Brown faces,” Getz said. “All I’m trying to do is to make sure we get deposition testimony to lock down the sequence of events [regarding Brown’s campaign filing].
“If it goes like I expect, I’ll be quick to go to the court and ask them to decertify Donald Brown from being on the ballot in November.”
The others Getz seeks to depose in the fight over Brown’s eligibility to run for office are Baker, who was the interim chairman of the Orange County Democratic Party during the campaign filing period at the end of 2017; and Cole, the party’s secretary-treasurer.
Louis Ackerman won election in May as the new chairman of the OCDP but the runnerup in that race, Marcus Wilkerson, has recently filed suit to nullify that election. He charges the OCDP with malfeasance and maintains that Baker and Cole were not legally appointed to their jobs.