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Bastrop, Leffingwell in court today

Wednesday, September 21, 2016 by Jo Clifton

Barring a decision by District Judge Carson Campbell to grant a continuance, Bastrop, Bastrop County and the Bastrop Independent School District will have a final hearing today in their lawsuit against the Pine Forest Investments Group, whose principal investor is Robert Leffingwell, brother of former Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell. Leffingwell’s attorney, Ben Wetmore, has filed a motion for continuance. Wetmore has been attempting to schedule a settlement conference with Charles Bundren, the attorney for the Bastrop entities, but Bundren has asserted his unavailability for such a conference. At this point, Bastrop has paid Bundren $723,531 to litigate the matter. Other defendants in the lawsuit include former Pine Forest Property Owners Association members John Clark, John Gardner and William Haschke, all of whom are represented by Austin attorney Bill Aleshire. In responding to Wetmore’s motion for continuance, Bundren asserted throughout a lengthy response that Clark, Gardner and Haschke committed fraud, even though the plaintiffs’ petition did not allege fraud. Bundren also alleged that Leffingwell and the property owners association defendants “filed a frivolous, false and fraudulent affidavit of Paul Burt, suggesting that Judge Campbell may have violated the Judicial Canons of Texas.” Burt’s affidavit, detailed here, said that he witnessed the judge talking to the plaintiffs and their lawyers behind a locked glass door several hours before the ruling in their favor. Burt said that he could not hear the conversation. Bundren’s proposed final judgment includes allegations of fraud against Clark, Gardner and Haschke. Aleshire told Bundren via email on Tuesday that he could avoid unnecessarily adding additional parties – Aleshire’s clients – and additional issues for appeal by changing the wording to indicate error, for example, as opposed to fraud. Wetmore has said he was present in the judge’s chambers when Bundren told Campbell that an appeal would cost the governments $75,000 to $125,000.

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