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34

ing a continued pattern of not showing up to court, not signing orders for

months at a time, not disposing of cases in a timely manner, and having the

largest backlog of cases within her county. The Commission found several

instances where the District Judge back-dated orders so it would look like

she had issued them months prior. District Judge claimed that it was not her

fault that parties did not receive the orders on the date her clerk stamped

them, but the fault of incompetent and untrained clerks. However, the Com-

mission found no evidence to substantiate this claim and witnesses stated

that only experienced clerks were hired for her Court due to the backlog.

“Prompt disposition of cases is critical to the parties appearing in court,

especially when vulnerable children are involved, and necessary to prevent

backlogs that interfere with the administration of justice. A judge who fails

to show up for court hearings, appears late in court, or delays making deci-

sions and signing orders in cases involving the rights of parents and the best

interests of children, causes harm and a great disservice to parties, lawyers,

witnesses, jurors, and other judges. A judge’s unjustified decisional delays,

tardiness, and absenteeism are harmful to the parties, damage the public’s

respect for and trust in the judiciary, and cannot be condoned.” The Com-

mission also found that District Judge violated the Rules of Civil Procedure

when issuing 600 DWOPs over a two day period without notices to parties or

their attorneys, and without holding DWOP hearings. Some of the cases she

dismissed were awaiting trial, had final orders awaiting her signature, and

were even cases on which she had been recused. The Commission held that

if District Judge’s excuses for why she dismissed some of the cases were

credible, it would mean she showed a great incompetence for the duties of

her office. For the above reasons, District Judge violated Canon 2A, 3B(2),

3B(8) and Article V, §1-a(6)A of the Texas Constitution.

Public Reprimand: County Court at Law Judge (CCL Judge) had an extensive

background of disputes and legal conflicts, even prior to taking the bench. At

the time he was sworn in, he was the subject of a malpractice lawsuit, had

been publicly disciplined by the State Bar, was defending against collection

efforts for a separate malpractice suit and a sanction for filing a frivolous

lawsuit, and had filed for bankruptcy protection. The Commission received

numerous complaints from lawyers and litigants against CCL Judge during

his time on the bench. The Commission found that CCL judge refused to

recuse himself from cases in which he had personal relationships with an

attorneys or parties, as well as acted discourteous and unprofessional to-

wards a local attorneys. The CCL judge “used his position and authority to

bully, retaliate against, and punish” the attorneys and an associate judge

for filing motions to recuse, grievances, criminal complaints, and removals

against him. His actions towards one of the attorneys resulted in several

criminal indictments, to which CCL Judge made a plea agreement and is-

sued a voluntary apology to the attorney. The Commission agreed that CCL

Judge engaged in criminal behavior towards the attorney.

The Commission also held that he allowed his personal and intimate relation-

ship with people to improperly influence his conduct. He used the county’s

fax machine to send pleadings and other legal documents on behalf of his

girlfriend, although the documents purported to be from the girlfriend, act-

ing

pro

se. These actions also resulted in an indictment against CCL Judge.

He again made a plea agreement admitting guilt and issued an apology.