Court of Appeals of Texas, Second District, Fort Worth
IN RE THE STATE OF TEXAS EX REL. JOHN WARREN RELATOR
PROCEEDING TRIAL COURT NO. CR17-00169
MEIER, GABRIEL, and SUDDERTH, JJ.
MEMORANDUM OPINION 
John Warren, the elected district attorney for Cooke County,
Texas, seeks mandamus relief from the order of the
respondent, the Honorable Jerry W. Woodlock,
"recus[ing]" Warren and his entire office from
prosecuting real party in interest Joshua Lynn Edington.
Because no evidence was admitted to support either
disqualification or recusal, which Edington does not dispute,
Warren has shown a clear right to relief from the
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
April 17, 2017, a Cooke County grand jury indicted Edington
with possession of between 4 and 200 grams of
methamphetamine. Warren assigned the prosecution to himself.
Part of the State's case against Edington was (1)
testimony from police officers that they saw Edington buy
methamphetamine from a confidential informant and (2)
Edington's telephone admission to his wife, Jessie, that
he knew the methamphetamine was in his car when the police
stopped him. Because Edington had "been to prison
twice" before, Warren decided to seek a sentence
applicable to repeat offenders- confinement for 25 years to
life. See Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 12.42(d) (West
Supp. 2016). After Edington requested a speedy trial, Warren
offered him a sentence of fifteen years' confinement in
exchange for his guilty plea and warned him that "[t]he
last guy who wanted his speedy trial got 40 TDC for a little
bit of meth." Edington's insistence on a speedy
trial admittedly angered Warren.
trial court scheduled the trial to begin on July 24 and
ordered the parties to appear for a July 20
"[a]nnouncement for trial." After the parties
appeared on July 20, Warren approached Jessie outside the
courtroom to talk about her possible testimony at the trial.
When Jessie mentioned to him that she believed the charges
against her husband would be dismissed, Warren told her
"that's not true" and "then proceeded to
tell her that the offer was 15, and that if we got to trial,
I'm going to ask for 50 years." Warren admitted that
this conversation was "unprofessional." Jessie, who
characterized Warren's remarks as "cocky,"
began to cry. Jessie never talked to Edington after this
conversation but approached Edington's attorney and told
him that she wanted Edington to plead guilty to avoid a
lengthy sentence. Based on this conversation, Edington's
attorney orally urged a "motion to recuse" Warren
and his office from the prosecution. 
start of the hearing on Edington's motion to disqualify,
which occurred on July 21, his attorney stated that after
further research, he believed that the respondent could not
recuse or disqualify Warren, admitting that his motion was
without merit. The respondent stated that he would determine
the motion anyway and heard evidence regarding Warren's
conversation with Jessie. At the conclusion of the hearing,
the respondent stated that he would grant Edington's
motion because he did not "like somebody's wife
being accosted and talked to about the case." The
respondent continued, stating that he would recuse the entire
office as well because "since [Warren is] the boss, I
would hate to put [the Cooke County assistant district
attorneys] in the position of having to ignore [Warren] when
y'all are prosecuting the case." On July 28, the
respondent signed an order recusing Warren and his office and
appointing a special prosecutor to prosecute Edington.
Availability of Remedy
arising in the context of a criminal case is an extraordinary
remedy that is available only if the relator has no other
adequate remedy at law and the relator seeks to compel a
ministerial act. See In re State ex rel. Weeks, 391
S.W.3d 117, 121–22 (Tex. Crim. App. 2013) (orig.
proceeding). The ministerial-act requirement is met if the
relator can show a clear right to the relief sought. See
In re Bonilla, 424 S.W.3d 528, 533 (Tex. Crim. App.
2014) (orig. proceeding). A clear right to relief arises when
the facts and circumstances dictate only one rational
decision under unequivocal, well-settled, and clearly
controlling legal principles. Weeks, 391 S.W.3d at
122. Warren argues that because no evidence of the statutory
grounds allowing for disqualification of a district attorney
was admitted and because only a district attorney may recuse
himself based on a conflict of interest, he has shown a clear
right to relief from the order. He further argues that
because the State's right to appeal is limited, he does
not have an adequate remedy at law. Edington admits that
there is "no authority to cite in opposition to the
Adequate Remedy at Law
State's right to appeal is limited by statute and does
not include the right to appeal a pretrial order
disqualifying the elected district attorney. See
Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Ann. art. 44.01 (West Supp. 2016).
Accordingly, we agree with Warren that the State's
statutory, yet limited, right to appeal is an inadequate
remedy for purposes of this mandamus proceeding. See
Greenwell v. Ct. of Appeals for the Thirteenth Judicial
Dist., 159 S.W.3d 645, 648–49 (Tex. Crim. App.
2005) (orig. proceeding).