5th Circuit Rejects Lawsuit Over Prosecutor Who Allegedly Moonlit as Law Clerk

Declining to overturn circuit precedent, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on Thursday upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit against a Texas county over its employment of a prosecutor who held a moonlighting job as a judicial law clerk.

In the lawsuit, Erma Wilson alleges that Midland County violated her due process rights by employing Ralph Petty as a prosecutor at the same time that, unbeknownst to her, he worked as a law clerk for the county judge who handled Wilson’s drug-possession case. She was convicted and served an eight-year suspended prison sentence before learning about Petty’s dual-employment arrangement through news reports.

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