By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Dan Peavy, the former Dallas Independent School District board member who was acquitted last November on bribery charges, has begun taking steps to prepare himself--and his wallet--to battle another potential criminal charge.
As the Dallas Observer first reported last week, U.S. Attorney Paul Coggins has asked federal judge Jorge Solis, who presided in Peavy's bribery case, for permission to forward the now-infamous Peavy tapes to the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice for review for possible civil rights violations.
The tapes, made surreptitiously by Peavy's former next-door neighbor, captured hours of conversations between Peavy and DISD officials. Some of the conversations with former school board president Sandy Kress involved plans to limit the influence of black school board members ["It's all a matter of power," January 23].
After reviewing the tapes, the Civil Rights Division will have the authority to open a criminal probe into behavior by Peavy, Kress, and possibly others captured on the still-secret recordings.
In response, Tom Mills, Peavy's lawyer, says his client is preparing to begin soliciting donations for a Dan Peavy Legal Defense Fund. Mills says he has begun drafting the copy for an advertisement to run in The Dallas Morning News--preferably appearing in the sports section on pages devoted to hunting and fishing activities. Mills says he also plans to post ads for the fund at bowling alleys and tattoo parlors.
"We want to put it everywhere where real red-blooded Americans are hanging out," Mills says.
Mills expects the pitch to attract individuals who subscribe to anti-big-government theories. He believes the anti-government types will be most sympathetic to the possibility that Peavy might have to defend himself against federal charges for a second time.
Phillip Umphres, the assistant U.S. attorney who tried Peavy on the bribery counts, reacted with shock to the notion of the Peavy Legal Defense Fund.
"You're kidding," Umphres said when told about the plans. "What a hoot."
Any money donated will be placed in a trust fund, Mills says.
Mills has reason to be concerned about receiving payment for the legal services he has provided Dallas school board members--both former and current ones.
In addition to representing Peavy, the Dallas criminal lawyer recently did business with current DISD board president Bill Keever, who hired Mills to represent him on a well-publicized gun charge.
A grand jury opted to no-bill Keever last month after hearing the case, in which the board president drew a gun on a fellow motorist in a traffic-related altercation.
Mills represented Keever before the grand jury. But Mills acknowledged in response to questions that Keever is not returning his phone calls, and that Keever has not yet paid his legal bill.
"We've now sent him an invoice and asked him to please send the check," Mills says.