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Shelby Co. officials, lawyers puzzled over district attorney's no-show at arraignments

Shelby County Courthouse (Source: KTRE Staff) Shelby County Courthouse (Source: KTRE Staff)
Source: KTRE Staff Source: KTRE Staff
Shelby County District Attorney Kenneth Florence (Source: KTRE Staff) Shelby County District Attorney Kenneth Florence (Source: KTRE Staff)
SHELBY COUNTY, TX (KTRE) -

The Shelby County district attorney didn't show up for arraignments yesterday.

No one, including District Attorney Kenneth Florence has told East Texas News why.

The no-show follows an alleged verbal and physical altercation that happened two weeks ago between Florence and attorney Robert Goodwin.

Goodwin has filed a motion to withdraw from a murder case the two attorneys were handling.

When it was time for arraignments Tuesday, at the Shelby County Courthouse everyone was asking, “Where is Kenneth Florence?” Nobody had heard from the district attorney.

Although East Texas News dropped by Florence's office, called him, and sent e-mails, no return calls or statements have been sent.

We're told the court called over to Florence's office. His staff said he wasn't there and no reason was given as to why. District Judge Brick Dickerson proceeded with the business at hand.

Lawyers we spoke with said district attorneys routinely show up at arraignments to accept pleas, deny pleas, or make motions. However, at initial arraignments, it's not totally necessary for prosecutors to be present. What is unusual is for them not to notify the court when they won't be there.

The Shelby County Jail waited for a phone call to transport inmates to court. Sheriff Willis Blackwell said it never came. No pleas or releases occurred, which could present a problem if the jail was full, but Blackwell said the inmate population isn't high right now.

Blackwell chose not to be interviewed on camera because he said it would hurt the people of Shelby County for him to get in the middle of the issue.

However, Blackwell did share that he's contacted both district judges. He wants to know if an ethics committee judgment might help place justice back on track in Shelby County.

Until that happens the valid concern is that victims, the accused, and citizens are paying the bill.

East Texas news checked with the Texas Ethics Commission. A spokesperson said the commission couldn't confirm nor deny any complaints have been filed until it issues an order.

Whether or not Florence had a legitimate reason for not showing up at Tuesday's arraignment is still unknown.

A staff member told East Texas News he came in for a short while today and did get our message. The staff member said although Florence had a fever Tuesday, she didn't know if that's why he didn't come to work.

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