Crooks named Interim County Judge

Published 5:31 pm Tuesday, April 24, 2018

By Ginger Broomes

The Orange Leader

Tuesday’s Commissioners Court session was postponed twice, as the commissioners deliberated on who would fill the shoes of former Orange County Judge Stephen Brint Carlton, who resigned.

Judge Carlton was voted out of office and tendered his resignation on April 13, with an effective date of April 22, leaving the county to decide on an interim judge who would take his place until the elections in November determined who would fill the seat.

Dean Crooks was selected as his replacement. Crooks is the Republican Candidate for Orange County Judge after beating Carlton in the march Primaries. At this time, Crooks may still have to face Donald G. Brown, the Democrat candidate, in November.

Brown was recently indicted for injury to a child. To have his name removed from the November ballot, Brown will need to fill out a form and have it notarized. At this time, he has not and appears his name will remain on the ballot for the November election.

Although it was one of the last items on Tuesdays’ agenda, the commissioners decided to have their closed meeting at the beginning of court. Upon returning to an open meeting, three of the four commissioners nominated Dean Crooks to go ahead and take over, with Barry Burton, commissioner of Precinct 2, being the only no vote, instead nominating Carl Thibodeaux as the interim.

However, there was no second causing the motion to fail, and the court had to again send press and the public out of the courtroom for further deliberations.

“This is a critical time in the county,” Barry Burton said of his “no” vote. “We’ve got a budget coming up. We’re in the middle of recovery … I felt there was someone better suited to that, that Mr. Crooks could come in and learn from, over the next few months until December, someone that could be seamless with zero learning curve, and I still feel that way, so I’m going to say no.”

Upon again returning to the open meeting, the commissioners took another vote, , and this time the motion carried four to zero.

“I was concerned for you taking over on such a short notice,” Jody Crump, commissioner of Precinct 4, said, addressing Crooks, who sat in the audience.

“That was my concern as well, learning so much in such a short bit. Just lean on the people you need to lean on,” said Burton.