An attorney who sued a court-at-law judge over claims the judge discouraged him from working too much on cases involving low-income clients has dropped his case in a settlement with the county, officials said Monday.
Galveston County Commissioners voted to authorize a settlement agreement between attorney Drew Willey and Judge Jack Ewing, ending a lawsuit filed in March 2018.
In the lawsuit, Willey, a Galveston criminal defense lawyer, claimed Ewing pulled him off cases involving poor clients after Willey requested the court pay for an investigator to assist in his clients’ defenses.
The lawsuit drew the attention of The New York Times, which ran a article under the headline “Preferring a quick guilty plea to a more thorough defense.”
Ewing at the time told the newspaper he assigned some cases to lawyers other than Willey because the young lawyer seemed overwhelmed.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew Edison in December dismissed part of Willey’s lawsuit that sought an injunction against Ewing and repayment of attorney’s fees.
Attorneys notified Edison on April 4 they had agreed to mediation to reach a settlement. The mediation hearing happened April 9, according to court records.
The settlement agreement, released by the county on Monday afternoon, said Ewing and Willey agreed to settle all of the claims and controversies.
“Nothing in this settlement should be considered as an admission by Judge Ewing of any wrongdoing,” the settlement states.
Late Monday, Charles Gerstein, an attorney who represented Willey, said his attorney would continue to be on a rotation of defense lawyers assigned to cases through Ewing’s court.
“We are very happy to reach a fair resolution,” Gerstein said.
No money was paid in the settlement, and both the attorney and the county would cover their own legal expenses, a county spokesman said.
Willey will continue to be appointed to indigent defense cases, according to the settlement agreement.
Ewing did not respond to a request for comment on Monday. Commissioners voted unanimously to accept the settlement.