Local District Attorney Speaks Out After Petition Was Filed to Oust Him

by Victor Lopez
NewsWest 9

WINKLER COUNTY--Michael Fostel, District Attorney for Crane and Winkler Counties, says he was taken totally by surprise when he found out the petition had been filed. He emphatically says the information in it as well as our report Monday night is full of inaccuracies.

Fostel says both county attorneys as well as District Judge James Rex were completely aware and in agreement that he would be out of pocket for a while due to surgeries he underwent in October of 2009 and February 2010.

In fact, Fostel says both county attorneys offered to fill in for him while he was recuperating, with the judge's blessings. He added, the thing that most bothered him was the amount of time he is accused of being out of the office. According to the affidavit, he's been a no show since March of 2009.

"That is totally not true. I hadn't even had the surgery. I had the surgery on my neck in October of 2009. So, up until then, I was here all the time. I worked two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon. I've been doing that ever since, all through the summer and all through the fall and I am still doing that," he commented.

Fostel says the only thing he didn't do, was make court appearances and that was because, in his own words, he had two competent attorneys, appointed by the court, doing it for him.

The initial petition was filed by a private citizen and the official complaint by the Winkler County Attorney.  Fostel told NewsWest 9, he believes he knows who's responsible, "I have a very firm reason to believe they are backing a third person who is another attorney. Actually, he told the county attorney, who told me, he said he couldn't live on what he made and he had to have my job and he couldn't wait for me to finish out my term."

Fostel would not name the attorney, he says is trying to get into the DA's chair. All he would say is he is well known in the community and he himself has known him for over 20 years.

Fostel says he's made it plain and clear that he plans to retire at the end of this term. Even if he were ousted, the new DA would have to be appointed by public vote or by the Governor.