Arrested Travis County assistant district attorney resigns, lawyer says

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A Travis County Assistant District Attorney facing criminal charges has resigned from his position after nearly 20 years with the DA’s office. His attorney, Charlie Baird, says the resignation is partly due to concerns that possible termination would impact his much-needed health benefits.

Joseph Frederick’s resignation came shortly after he was arrested and charged with Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon on June 8, Baird said. Frederick is accused of pointing a firearm at his roommate and stating “I’ll shoot you,” according to court records.

RELATED: Travis County assistant district attorney arrested, charged with aggravated assault

“Mr. Frederick’s decision to resign from the DA’s office was, in part, due to his concern over retaining the retirement/pension/benefits he accrued over his many years of service in the DA’s Office.  He also took into consideration his healthcare needs going forward, including medical insurance,” Baird said.

Additionally, Baird explained Frederick considered the time and resources the DA’s office was going to have to use to investigate and address the circumstances surrounding his recent arrest had he remained employed.

“Mr. Frederick did not want to impose that burden on the office he loved and had served for many years.  Therefore, he resigned his position,” Baird stated.

We asked Travis County about its employee policy related to terminations versus resignations and the impact each has on maintaining accrued benefits and health insurance and will update this story once we receive a response.

After Frederick’s arrest, multiple sources including Baird informed KXAN Frederick has been battling Parkinson’s Disease, a brain disorder that causes unintended or uncontrollable movements, such as shaking, stiffness and difficulty with balance and coordination, according to the National Institutes for Health.

“There can be no doubt that decisions made by a person suffering from Parkinson’s disease are impacted by that affliction,” Baird said about Frederick’s decision to resign. He told KXAN Frederick does not believe Parkinson’s had an impact on his performance as an ADA.

“Parkinson’s disease has affected Mr. Frederick physically, but it has not impacted his mental acuity,” Baird said.

Work as an assistant district attorney

KXAN combed through court filings involving the one capital murder case Frederick was assigned to and found one record where his health was referenced.

Court records containing email communications from last November show Frederick requesting a hearing to be reset because of his medical situation.

“I will not be in court this morning because I have an appointment with my neurologist for my deep brain stimulator that not working properly,” records show he wrote in an email, referring to a device that the National Institutes of Health says helps with movement-related symptoms of Parkinson’s.

Frederick’s email noted that the capital murder charge was still unindicted and anticipated the case would go before a grand jury in December as detectives were still gathering evidence.

The case was never presented to a grand jury and the capital murder charges were ultimately rejected by the DA’s office earlier this year, according to court records.

KXAN reviewed Travis County District Clerk records of all cases assigned to Frederick since 2019, when he was first listed as the “retained” attorney on cases, and found 32 felony cases. All were either dismissed or rejected and closed with “No Charges Filed,” according to court filings from the Travis County District Clerk.

These cases consisted of three separate murder charges, aggravated assaults and numerous narcotic-related offenses, court records show.

KXAN asked Baird about Frederick’s caseload compared to other ADAs, who said he did not feel Frederick was specifically assigned fewer cases but felt the volume of cases could be associated with the type of cases he prosecuted.

KXAN found several other ADAs also listed as the “retained” state prosecutor on felony cases during the same time frame.

Those in the trial and grand jury division were assigned to well over 100 felony cases, with the majority rejected and closed as “No Charges Filed.”

Records show another ADA in the same division as Frederick had a comparable caseload of 37, nearly half of which resulted in an indictment or a conviction.

In February of this year, Frederick was listed as one of two attorneys assigned to the homicide and major crimes division, according to the DA’s Attorney Assignments records. As of June 1. assignment records no longer show a homicide and major crimes division and list both Frederick and the ADA who also worked major crimes as “pre-indictment” attorneys.

KXAN reached out to the DA’s office and requested details regarding Frederick’s role as an ADA prior to his resignation as well as a comment on Frederick’s caseload and whether Parkinson’s affected Frederick’s work.

The DA’s office acknowledged KXAN’s requests but has not provided responses to the requested information. KXAN will update this story once a response is provided.

What’s next in the case

Frederick was released on a $10,000 bond the same day as his arrest, according to court records. Two days later, the DA’s office filed a motion to recuse itself on the grounds that the alleged offense occurred when Frederick was employed as an ADA during regular business hours, according to the motion.

On Monday, Caldwell County District Attorney Fred Weber was assigned as the prosecutor on the case, which will take place in the 460th District Court of Travis County.

Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to KXAN Austin.