Private Practice for County Attorney Fleming?

Reliable sources say that recently re-elected Harris County Attorney Michael Fleming is planning to step down in the coming weeks and take a high paying job with a Houston law firm. Contacted at his office, Fleming denies he's made any decision but admits he is mulling over several offers.

"I've had some people approach me about doing that but I don't have any present plans." Fleming, who is married to former prosecutor Natalie Jackson, went on to say that his expanding family is forcing him to take a hard look at his future. "We just had our sixth child born and I'm going to listen to what they have to say," he explained.

One possible employer is the downtown firm of Locke Liddell and Sapp, formerly Liddell, Sapp, Zivley and LaBoon. That firm employed Fleming during his campaign in 1996 for county attorney after he left his position as assistant county attorney under Democrat Mike Driscoll. Locke Liddell does extensive business with Harris County.

Fleming was strongly supported by Republican County Commissioner Steve Radack in his first race. Radack did not return a call for comment.

County sources report that Mike Stafford, an assistant under Fleming and a recently defeated candidate for District Attorney, is being pushed as the replacement who would be appointed by Commissioners Court to serve the remainder of Fleming's four-year term. Stafford ran for county attorney in 1996. He did not make the GOP runoff election, but endorsed Fleming against attorney Mickey Lawrence in that race. In the recent District Attorney contest he was backed by Radack.

After Fleming beat Democrat Sylvia Garcia, he appointed Stafford as a first assistant in the County Attorney's office. That fueled rumors of a deal between Fleming and Stafford: an endorsement for a county job. Both Fleming and Stafford denied any such arrangement.


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