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Former Judge Wins $600,000 Settlement After Wrongful Conviction

City & State

Former County Judge Suzanne Wooten embracing her husband after winning $600,000 Settlement from Wrongful Conviction. | Image by Louis DeLuca, The Dallas Morning News

A Collin County insurance company has agreed to pay $600,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by former Collin County District Judge Suzanne Wooten, who was wrongfully convicted of bribery, ABC News 8 reports.

Wooten’s attorney confirmed the settlement to WFAA and issued a statement on Friday, January 7.

“Former State District Judge Suzanne H. Wooten achieved another victory in her harrowing yet heroic story of exoneration,” the statement reads. “Judge Wooten has resolved her lawsuit against Collin County for violating her constitutional rights. Judge Wooten sued Collin County for maintaining a pattern and practice of embarking on politically motivated prosecutions without probable cause. The lawsuit against Collin County has settled, with Judge Wooten and her team to receive $600,000.”

Wooten filed a lawsuit in 2018 alleging that she was a victim of political persecution. After being found not guilty, she filed a suit a year later. As a result of her conviction, Wooten was forced to resign from the bench, and her law license was suspended.

The case would be heard by six grand juries in total. The sixth grand jury indicted Wooten, her campaign manager James Stephen Spencer, Dave Cary, and his wife Stacy.

According to prosecutors, the Cary Family allegedly paid $150,000 to Wooten’s campaign consultant in exchange for favorable child custody rulings.

According to records, Wooten paid her campaign consultant for work on her campaign. There was no evidence that Wooten ever received any money from the Carys.

In an interview, Wooten stated that she had never met the Carys and was unaware of their existence. Wooten did not make any decisions in the Carys’ case. from which she recused herself just a few months after taking the bench.

Wooten later told WFAA that on that day in 2011, the jury’s decision to convict her of nine felony counts stunned her.

“All I did was stand there. I cannot believe this is happening,” Wooten told WFFA in 2018. “I was found guilty of making decisions that were in my favor. And everyone agreed that I had never made a favorable decision because I didn’t preside over the case.”

Prosecutors gave her ten minutes after the jury returned a guilty verdict to decide whether she wanted to accept ten years of probation and waive her right to appeal or let the jury determine her punishment. She faced a maximum sentence of twenty years in prison if convicted.

“I would have said, ‘Yeah, bring it,’ if it hadn’t been for my husband and kids,” she said in 2018.

In 2017, the Court of Criminal Appeals overturned the Cary Family’s convictions, clearing Wooten’s release. Her lawyer filed a writ of innocence with the appeals court right away.

Wooten has since reclaimed her law license and is now employed as a private lawyer.

Her petition to run for district judge in 2020 had been filed, but she dropped out after the Collin County Republican Party refused to put her name on the primary ballot, claiming that she was ineligible due to a prior conviction, despite being later acquitted.

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