Ramsey’s race for DA started years ago
By 01/17/2008 00:00:00
Joe Grubbs was one phone call away from preventing Rodney Pat Ramsey from obtaining his law degree
The Ellis County Press
WAXAHACHIE - Joe Grubbs was one phone call away from preventing Rodney Pat Ramsey from obtaining his law degree.
Ramsey, the first opponent the longtime county/district attorney has had more than 20 years in public office, was almost prevented from even sitting for the state bar due to Grubbs' maneuvering.
Then, a funny thing happened: Grubbs failed. Twice.
And now Grubbs faces an ex-Red Oak and Waxahachie cop his office tried to prosecute for taking the fall for a fellow officer in a drug investigation.
The charges were later dismissed - all of them - but it still hasn't stopped the rumors and chatter among political circles.
'The only downside to running is that I have to relive this stuff from 12 years ago,' said Ramsey in his downtown Waxahachie office.
Although the Ramsey campaign is still in its infancy, the father of four and husband of his junior high
school sweetheart has a plan in place for what's to come out on his past record: honesty.
'I'm going to tell the truth and if that bothers somebody, there's nothing I can do about it,' said Ramsey, who penned a series of newspaper editorials for The Ellis County Press in 2000 detailing the near-railroad job Grubbs' office tried to run against him.
'They dismissed every charge [Grubbs] filed against me. Every
single one. They didn't have a case.'
However, it won't be his past record on the line in the March 4 primary. It'll be his opponent's.
Sex offenders go free
One of the issues in Ramsey's campaign is to be tough on sex crimes, a natural no-brainer for those in law enforcement or working within the criminal justice system. However, in Ellis County, according to records, data searches and databases this newspaper has investigated, dozens - 50 to be exact - of child sex offenders within the past two years alone are on the streets because Grubbs' office has argued for 10-year deferred adjudicated plea bargains - meaning the offenders do little if any jail time, pay a fine, and usually register as sex offenders for life.
Ramsey said that will change.
'I'll prosecute the people who need to be prosecuted, plain and simple,' he said. 'We need a system that offers deferred adjudication probation and regular probation to sexual offenders and pedophiles on a more limited basis than the one we currently have.
'I think a jury composed of the people of Ellis County is capable of deciding how long those offenders should remain in prison.'
One case in particular that roiled Ramsey - and eventually finalized his decision to make a run for the county attorney's position - is the case involving an Ennis doctor that put 21 female patients under sedation medication - and while knocked out, Dr. Aniruddha Chitale allegedly molested and fondled the women, so much so that his semen found itself on a victim's face.
Sherri Simpson has since sued to have records and documents in the case released - one that Grubbs himself has blocked. Chitale was put on probation, served 180 days in jail, had his medical license revoked and didn't have to register as a sex offender.
Two top administrators at Ennis Regional Medical Center where Chitale allegedly committed his crimes subsequently resigned.
Ramsey specifically quotes a Dallas Morning News front page article on the subject in which Grubbs - who said he would only answer interview questions regarding this election in the form of postal mailed surveys - stated 'the presence of semen is in no way an indication that a crime has been committed.'
'I found this statement absurd,' Ramsey said, referring also to prosecutor Patrick M. Wilson, one of Grubbs' assistants who handles sex cases.
Justice, closed-file system
No matter who a resident is related to, Ramsey said he would prosecute crimes.
'Justice has a blindfold on for a reason, and that's what this campaign is about. There is most definitely an immediate need for a change in our district attorney's office. I have a few fresh ideas on how we can be tough on crime while also being smart on crime.
'We need to focus on the pursuit of justice; sounds good but just what does it mean? I believe it means what most of you would believe...that the punishment should fit the crime and that is something we haven't always had here in Ellis County.'
But overcoming a longtime incumbent will be difficult, but doable, Ramsey said. Already his campaign is in the middle of organizing a series of fundraisers, has ordered yard signs and billboards and has teamed up with a local political management company to run his campaign.
'I have had nothing but positive feedback from everyone we have spoken with so far. [Wife] Rebecca and I look forward to working with all the good people who have called so far and offered their support. It seems that the public sees a need for a change also,' Ramsey said.
Aside from those key issues, switching from a closed-file system in which defense attorneys are not privy to information from the prosecutors to an open-file system to which lawyers are allowed to better represent their clients is another change Ramsey said he would push for.
'The[prosecutors] basically have this information that you can't see, that ‘we'll put it here so you can never see it,'' Ramsey said, who pointed out that Ellis County is one of a few counties still left with a closed-file system. 'There was stuff [Grubbs] pulled out [in his phone calls to the state bar] that I didn't know
With that change, Ramsey estimates a 30 percent cut in defense attorney payments taxpayers foot to cover costs of indigent clients. As for the general operating budget of the county attorney's office, Ramsey said he would eliminate what he calls 'waste.'
'A closed file system is where the district attorney's office has its own file on the defendant, and the defense attorneys are not allowed to see what is in the file,' he said.
'Most counties have open file systems and I believe this system is a better way not only to administer justice, but it also causes cases to be resolved sooner versus later. If the defense lawyer doesn't know what is in the file it is difficult for him to advise his client on the facts and evidence the state may have against him.
'This causes needless hearings and delays which cause you and I to pay more for their defense. Most people have no idea what a closed file system is, and for good reason...most people aren't ever charged with a crime.
'What they need to understand is that the system is ineffective and cost us money.'
This will be Ramsey's second attempt at public office; his first run, in 2002 for county judge, saw him finish with a little over 500 votes, good for last in a five-way GOP primary that Chad Adams, R-Midlothian, won.
Ramsey also said it will be Grubbs' last attempt to block his efforts, much like he tried to do previously.
'I would never run for political office based on political ambition or any other personal reason,' said Ramsey, who, if successful, will not have to face a general election opponent in November. 'They [prosecutors] basically told me back then that the only way to really do something about it is to go to law school and become a lawyer. I took them up on that offer.'