Monday, July 11, 2016 by Jo Clifton

New affidavits filed in Bastrop case

Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape and two members of a Bastrop property owners group who went to court over control of their association have signed affidavits disputing the veracity of another affidavit, which was signed by a citizen who swore that he witnessed them talking behind a locked glass door to Judge Carson Campbell just hours before Campbell ruled in their favor.

Paul Burt, a member of the Pine Forest Property Owners Association, swore to and signed an affidavit stating that on the day the trial ended, Friday, May 6, he returned from lunch early to find “a locked foyer to the courtroom. Someone saw that I was attempting to gain entry and walked over and let me in. I could see the Judge Campbell and others talking (sic).”

In his affidavit, he stated that Drusilla Rogers and Clifton Seidel were present, along with their lawyers, as well as lawyers for the city of Bastrop and the other governmental entities involved in the lawsuit over the development of the Pine Forest property.

“It appeared to be of a serious nature as I saw no one smiling or being light or jovial. As soon as I entered the foyer conversation totally ceased, leading me to believe that the conversation was not intended to be heard by me,” Burt said in his affidavit. The affidavit was filed in conjunction with a motion for a new trial in the complex dispute between developer Robert Leffingwell and the city of Bastrop, Bastrop County and the Bastrop Independent School District.

Burt said he thought that Pape was there in the foyer but was not sure. However, Pape’s affidavit makes it clear that he was in the foyer. He states, “In fact, I specifically recall not having any conversations with anyone regarding the trial of the above referenced civil action at any time while in the foyer waiting for the courtroom door to be opened. I heard no one else having any conversation or communication of any nature with Judge Campbell, or that Judge Campbell might have overheard, regarding the trial.”

Pape states that Burt is “an acquaintance and friend of John Gardner, the former president and member of the Board of Directors of the Pine Forest Property Owners Association” and that he observed him sitting with Gardner and Leffingwell at the trial and observed them conversing “many times during breaks in the hearing.”

Burt said Sunday, “I don’t know what they were talking about” when he observed the judge and others in the foyer. “They could’ve been talking about their grandchildren.” However, he insisted that he is not friends with Gardner and Leffingwell. and did not know them before the trial. On the other hand, he said he had campaigned for both Pape and Campbell.

Seidel and Rogers, who are now officers of the Pine Forest property owners group, filed affidavits that are nearly identical to each other.

Both affidavits were signed on July 6 before different notaries public. Seidel’s affidavit states, “At no time while I present (sic) in the foyer of the courtroom or any other location at the Bastrop Law Enforcement Center on May 6, 2016, did I participate in any conversation or meeting with Judge Carson Campbell, nor do I recall observing any conversation or meeting between Judge Carson Campbell and any attorneys or any other individuals whom Mr. Burt claims participated in such a meeting or conversation following the lunch break.

“Mr. Burt’s allegation that I participated in such a meeting or conversation is absolutely false.”

Rogers’ affidavit states, “At no time while I present (sic) in the foyer of the courtroom or any other location at the Bastrop Law Enforcement Center on May 6, 2016, do I recall participate (sic) in any conversation or meeting with Judge Carson Campbell, nor do I recall observing any conversation or meeting between Judge Carson Campbell and any attorneys or any other individuals whom Mr. Burt claims participated in such a meeting or conversation following the lunch break.

“Mr. Burt’s allegation that I participated in such a meeting or conversation is absolutely false.”

It is not clear whether the affidavits, which were filed in response to the Burt affidavit, will ever be discussed in the courtroom or any other forum. The motion accompanying the affidavits states that “all parties and counsel take notice” of the affidavits in rebuttal to the Burt affidavit.

The judge has 45 days from the filing of the motion for a new trial to rule. If he does not do so, the motion will be overruled by operation of law. Bastrop County has filed a motion for summary judgment against Leffingwell’s development group, which is scheduled to be heard on July 27, but the affidavits are not likely to be discussed at that hearing.

By Larry D. Moore, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=609290

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Bastrop: Bastrop is a city and the county seat of Bastrop County. It's located about 30 miles southeast of Austin

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