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26

Disciplinary Actions

(March 2, 2015 – June 30, 2015)

State Commission on Judicial Conduct

Public Sanctions

Public Warning

: District Court Judge became the subject of local and national media attention for alleged

misconduct, which caused the Commission to initiate its own investigation. The media reports contained

allegations that District Judge used illegal drugs and hired prostitutes; used officeholder funds and

campaign contributions to take vacations with his former girlfriend; committed assault on his former

girlfriend; and was the subject of a criminal investigation for sexual assault. A grand jury declined to indict

the District Judge in the assault case, and the Commission found insufficient evidence to support the

allegations of drug use and engaging prostitutes.

Therefore, the Commission focused its investigation on information that came to light subsequent to the

grand jury decision during which the former girlfriend held a press conference and released audio and

video recordings of conversations between herself and District Judge. These recordings depicted District

Judge engaged in “lewd, profane, and derogatory language,” descriptions of physical violence committed

by District Judge, accusations that District Judge posted nude photos of her to the Internet in retaliation,

and discussions of trips the two had taken together. The Commission found that these allegations cast

public discredit not only District Judge, but the judges in Dallas County and Texas as a whole. His actions

drew negative media attention and criticism by the public, and District Judge’s own conduct provided

plenty of information for the media to use against him. The Commission held that this conduct violated

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

Furthermore, the audio and video recordings that were released during the press conferences raised

questions about District Judge’s use of campaign funds for personal vacations. During the fall of 2013,

District Judge reimbursed himself for travel expenses out of his campaign fund without disclosing the

details of those expenses, and District Judge could not provide the Commission with evidence that he was

entitled to such reimbursements. District Judge alleged that it was the fault of the attorney who prepared

the reports on his behalf, but was not able to provide any records to substantiate that the expenses were

accurate. In October 2014, District Judge claimed reimbursement of $51,000 for a dinner meeting with

constituents. He admitted to filing this report on his own, but told the Commission that the amount was

not accurate and was due to a typo, and said that he would file amended reports. The Commission found

that the District Judge’s actions in this regard constituted willful and/or persistent violations of Canon 2A.

Public Admonishment

: Appellate Judge was stopped by police for speeding. During the stop, the officer

became suspicious that Appellate Judge was driving under the influence. Appellate Judge admitted to

having consumed “about five beers.” After failing the officer’s sobriety test, Appellate Judge became

uncooperative. The dash cam video of the event showed Appellate Judge repeatedly identifying herself

as a judge, pleading for leniency, and accusing the officer of ruining her life and career. The Appellate

Judge’s arrest, the later dismissal of charges, as well as the dash cam video drew media attention both

locally and nationally. The Commission found that by repeatedly identifying herself as a judge to the

officer, Appellate Judge attempted to use her position to obtain favorable treatment in violation of Canon

2B. Furthermore, her conduct and arrest cast public discredit on the judiciary and the administration of

justice in violation of Article V, § 1-a(6)A.