Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.
Time to read
2 minutes
Read so far

Judge, DA get into raucous confrontation

  • Article Image Alt Text
    75th District Court Judge Mark Morefield
  • Article Image Alt Text
    Liberty County District Attorney Jennifer Bergman being sworn in to office.
  • Article Image Alt Text
    Liberty County Commissioner Pct. 1 Bruce Karbowski

LIBERTY – In what can only be described as a heated confrontation, 75th District Judge Mark Morefield scolded the District Attorney's office over what he deemed a failure to seek justice in the case of County Commissioner Pct. 1 Bruce Karbowski.

"Justice is to find out the truth," said Morefield.

District Attorney Jennifer Bergman responded to the judge, "My definition of justice may be different than yours. But I can assure you that my office has done everything to see that justice is served in this case."

Morefield questioned the DA's decision not to present any evidence against Karbowski even though a grand jury of Liberty County citizens found sufficient evidence to indict the commissioner on charges of nepotism. 

The indictment was based on Government Code Section 573.041(2), which reads as follows:


"PROHIBITION APPLICABLE TO PUBLIC OFFICIAL. A public official may not appoint, confirm the appointment of, or vote for the appointment or confirmation of the appointment of an individual to a position that is to be directly or indirectly compensated from public funds or fees of office if:

(2)  the public official holds the appointment or confirmation authority as a member of a state or local board, the legislature, or a court and the individual is related to another member of that board, legislature, or court within a degree described by Section 573.002."


A grand jury indicted Karbowski in August 2022.

In Dec. 2021, a motion was filed by her office through Assistant District Attorney Mark A. Boemio to dismiss the case against Karbowski.

"We filed a motion to dismiss that was refused and denied," said Bergman before the trial.

Morefield formally denied that motion for dismissal leading to Monday's trial.

According to Morefield, the DA's office never questioned his denial of the motion, at which time he provided an opportunity for the DA's office to seek an unbiased second opinion, to which he stated the DA's office refused.

"This court inquired Ms. Bergman, the District Attorney, to allow this court to appoint DA pro tem. A DA pro tem is a professional that is so far away from this court that he would have no connection with the District Attorney's office, no connection with this court and no connection with the defense," said Morefield.

Morefield agreed to dismiss the case immediately if an unbiased DA pro tem believed there was no evidence of a crime before asking Boemio why everyone was so afraid to seek a second opinion. 

At that time, Boemio said the office had sought a second opinion from Montgomery County. 

Morefield responded, "You're getting an opinion from your friends over in Montgomery County."

At that time, Bergman interjected into the proceedings and argued that her office had, in fact, sought additional opinions from other DAs.

"I have no grounds to recuse myself statutorily," Bergman continued, "I have received more than one-second opinion."

Morefield argued that no second opinion was ever mentioned in the motion to dismiss.

"I'm not statutorily obligated to share with you everything that goes on in my office, nor will I do so," said a fiery Bergman.

In the end, the jury was provided no evidence in the case, and the judge ordered the jury to return a verdict of not guilty under the law.

Both the DA and defense counsel agreed that justice had been served in the case against Karbowski.

"I think this particular District Attorney did the right thing by filing a motion to dismiss. I don't think the facts, nor the law justified this prosecution at all," said Joseph C. "Lum" Hawthorn, council for Karbowski.

Bergman believes that justice was served in the case and that her office was not playing politics along the way.

"Justice is justice and I will do everything I can to see that justice is done in Liberty County. Justice comes in many forms. Justice can come in the form of a life sentence and justice can come in the form of a dismissal," Bergman continued, "the right thing to do in this case was to file a motion and to do what we did."

Bergman said she felt it was unfortunate it got to this point, a sentiment that Morefield seemed to agree with; however, their reasonings appear to be quite the opposite.

Morefield argued the importance of impartiality by all elected officials and the need to allow the jury to hear the evidence presented to the grand jury in 2020 against Karbowski to determine his guilt or innocence. He argued the DA's office prevented Liberty County citizens from deciding Karbowski’s guilt or innocence for themselves.

"Ultimately, I remain committed to justice and pursuing it, regardless of the price," said Bergman in an official statement.