Table of Contents Table of Contents
Previous Page  34 / 48 Next Page
Information
Show Menu
Previous Page 34 / 48 Next Page
Page Background

thics ocket

34

JP’s ballot petitions. Prior to filing the suit, JP sent an email to the Chair with the subject line “solution,”

which noted that while she needed one more year in office to qualify for full retirement, her election would

not mean that “[she] must fulfill the next term of office.” JP goes on to suggest, among other things, that:

(1) her opponent withdraw her challenge; (2) they proceed with election; (3) the opponent builds name

recognition while JP “will make sure [opponent’s] brushes with the law are not an issue, ever”; (4) JP will

endorse her opponent to fill the unfulfilled term; and (5) that JP will support her opponent in any future

elections. The Chair, instead of forwarding the email to the opponent, forwarded it to the Office of the

Secretary of State. A member of the public obtained a copy of the email and published it to her Facebook

page and included a statement “I have never seen or heard of such a blatant attempt at bribery and

coercion aimed at circumventing the will of the voters…” After JP received favorable early polling results,

she posted a comment to her Facebook page saying “…and to my opponent…here’s an Italian wish...

‘bafongoo’ and that’s accompanied by a flick of the wrist under the chin.” JP told the Commission that the

word was meaningless and the accompanying gesture meant “to go jump back in the mud” and was “a

tongue in cheek reference to the massive amount of mudslinging” her opponent did.

The Commission held that JP’s email cast doubt on her impartiality because it purported to confer

benefits in return for her opponent’s withdraw from the election. Furthermore, the later publication of

the email undermined public confidence and cast discredit upon the judiciary in violation of Canon 2A

and 4A(1), and Article V §1-a(6)A of the Texas Constitution. Her Facebook post to her opponent also

cast reasonable doubt on her impartiality and cast public discredit upon the judiciary. The Commission

ordered that JP obtain three additional hours of education regarding a judge’s duty to conduct extra-

judicial activities in a manner that promotes, and does not compromise, public confidence and judicial

integrity.

Private Sanctions

No private sanctions have been issued since the date of the last publication.

Suspensions

No suspensions since the last issue.

Resignations

No resignations since the last issue.

Special Court of Review Opinions

Docket No. 15-0001

Full Opinion Here

In April 2015, the Commission issued a public admonition and order of education to a District Court Judge

for comments she posted to her public Facebook page. District Court Judge appealed the Commission’s

disciplinary action, and a Special Court of Review (hereafter “SCR”) was convened to conduct a trial de

novo. For the proceedings, the Commission was required to file a charging document with the allegations

of misconduct. The charging document contained three allegations, which are discussed in detail below.

The District Court Judge asserted that she utilized her Facebook page as a means to fulfill her campaign

promise of transparency. The SCR found that District Court Judge was very active in posting comments

to her Facebook page once she took the bench and used it as a means to educate the public about her

court.

In Charge I, the Commission criticized several postings by District Court Judge and argued that they

called into question District Court Judge’s impartiality:

“We have a big criminal trial starting on Monday!”

(The Commission criticized the use of an exclamation

point and the word “big.”)