WACO (January 15, 2013)--Citing a personal conflict, Waco's U.S. District Judge Walter S. Smith Jr. on Monday signed an order recusing himself from hearing a lawsuit filed against new McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara that accuses the sheriff of improperly firing six employees.
Smith was appointed to the federal bench in 1984 and for many of the years he served, McNamara was a U.S. Deputy Marshal who worked both in the same building and in the same court.
Court records show the case has been transferred to U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel in the Austin court.
The lawsuit alleges the fired deputies First Amendments rights were violated when they were fired because, they say, they only were fired because they supported McNamara's opponent in the GOP Primary.
The complaint, obtained last week by News 10, lists Jimmie Channon, W. Derrick Johnson, William I. McKamey, Anthony W. McRae, J.C. Riggs and Norman Wade as plaintiffs and Sheriff Parnell McNamara and McLennan County as defendants.
Dallas attorney Don Tittle filed the suit late last Wednesday afternoon in federal district court in Waco.
In the complaint Tittle says the plaintiffs were denied their right to free speech and claims they were terminated from employment at the sheriff's office solely because they supported McNamara's primary opponent for the sheriff's job.
The lawsuit claim states all the plaintiffs openly campaigned for Randy Plemons, who McNamara defeated in the GOP Primary for the right to run for the job in the general election, which McNamara also won.
The lawsuit claim points out that combined the plaintiffs had more than 114 years experience in law enforcement and all had been given excellent job reviews.
"The unprecedented firings were obvious political retaliation," the claim states.
Further, the claim states that McNamara's actions "caused past and future economic damage to each plaintiff in the form of lost wages and benefits. Also each plaintiff has sustained damage to his reputation, ability to earn a living and standing in the community, and will continue to be so damaged in the future."