District Judge Robert Mohoney has dropped all criminal charges against Mark Richardson, Vergil Richardson, Jermichole Richardson and Xavier Richardson, bringing a three-year legal nightmare to an end.
This ruling comes as no surprise. Once Judge John McCraw Jr. forced the presiding judge, John Miller, to recuse himself, the outcome was virtually automatic. Judge Mahoney was appointed to replace Miller and it didn’t take him long to make the only sensible call available to him.
The big surprise in this case is that charges were filed against these defendants in the first place. No one has ever accused the Texas Attorney General’s office of being soft on drug crime, but when Nicole Habersang reviewed the facts she knew what she had to do. That’s when things got really strange. When Ms. habersang filed a motion requesting that charges against all but one defendant be dropped, Judge Miller refused to cooperate.
John Miller refused to play ball with the AG’s office because Vergil and Mark Richardson had filed a civil suit against a number of Red River County officials. Miller wanted a quid pro quo: You drop your suit and I’ll cooperate with Ms. Habersang.
Miller wandered out of bounds for a simple reason: Red River County is represented by a rogue prosecutor named Val Varley and the Judge is too enmeshed with his colleagues to grasp the obvious.
When the Richardson’s civil suit is revived in federal court, Judge Miller will have the issues spelled out for him.
Friends of Justice has been monitoring this case since we were contacted by Mark and Vergil almost three years ago. Special thanks to Harvard student and Friends of Justice intern, Pierre Berastain for working hard in Red River County while most of our key leaders were in Winona for the Curtis Flowers trial.
The article below does a good job of recounting the salient facts in this case.
Charges dropped against former Liberty-Eylau basketball coach
By: Staff Reports – Texarkana Gazette -Published: 10/16/2010
CLARKSVILLE, Texas—Criminal charges have been dismissed against a former Liberty-Eylau basketball coach and his brother who were arrested nearly three years ago after a drug raid.
Mark and Vergil Richardson were among six arrested Nov. 17, 2007, after a raid on South Columbia Street. The brothers say they were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The orders to dismiss the charges against them were signed Oct. 8.
“Justice has finally been served,” Mark Richardson said. “We’ve been through so much humiliation and embarrassment.”
Vergil Richardson has not been able to work as a coach since his arrest.
“I’m looking forward to getting my life back,” he said. “I’ve been so torn down.”
The Richardsons were visiting their half-brother, Kevin Calloway, when Clarksville Police Department and Red River County Sheriff’s Office executed a “no knock” search warrant. The raid was sparked after Calloway allegedly sold marijuana to an undercover officer earlier in the day in front of the house.
Drugs were found in a locked, backyard shed. Calloway told investigators the drugs were his and that the others arrested were unaware of illegal substances.
The Richardsons have maintained they had no idea drugs were on the property.
District Attorney Val Varley participated in the raid. He wore body armor and carried a shotgun. Because his presence made him a potential witness, Varley recused himself as prosecutor. Assistant District Attorney Nicole Habersang was appointed to handle the case.
Indictments were handed down for the Richardson brothers and three others visiting Calloway at the time of the raid—Xavier Richardson, Jermichole Richardson and Edward Richardson.
Calloway pleaded guilty last year and received a term of probation.
Habersang filed motions to dismiss the charges against the Richardson brothers and their co-defendants, but 102nd District Judge John Miller refused to sign the documents. Miller scheduled the cases for trial in September.
On Nov. 19, 2009, before Miller’s denial of the motions to dismiss, Texarkana attorney Mark Lesher filed a lawsuit alleging the Richardson brothers’ civil rights were violated by Varley; Red River County; Sheriff Terry Reed; Deputy Robert Bridges; Justice of the Peace Shelly Benton; Clarksville Police Chief Brandon Harbison; and the city of Clarksville. The complaint states that the Richardson brothers were not mentioned in the search warrant, which appears to have been signed after the raid began.
The civil case was put on hold per a federal judge’s order pending resolution of the criminal cases.
In July, Lesher, who represented Mark Richardson in his criminal case, and Texarkana attorney Clyde Lee, who represented Vergil Richardson, filed motions asking the administrative judge with authority over Miller’s court to remove him from their cases.
The motions accused Miller of refusing to grant the AG’s motions to dismiss the cases because of the civil suit.
District Judge John McCraw Jr. on Aug. 23 signed orders recusing Miller from the cases of Mark Richardson, Vergil Richardson, Jermichole Richardson and Xavier Richardson. McCraw appointed retired Lake Whitney District Judge Robert Mohoney to preside over the cases.
Mohoney signed orders to dismiss the charges.
Edward Richardson’s attorney did not file a motion for recusal. Miller dismissed the charges against him Sept. 13.
Lesher described the brothers as “vindicated” and said he will file documents in federal court that will cause the Richardson brothers’ civil suit to proceed.
Vergil Richardson expressed appreciation for the work of Lesher and Lee.
“Those two guys have been in our corner since day one. They really believed in us.”
Vergil Richardson said he is also grateful to Habersang.
“My family and I would like to thank her. She did the right thing for justice.”