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thics ocket

28

that she would not be fair or impartial in the

Wieseckel

case and other high-profile cases.” For these

reasons, District Judge did not properly perform her duties and cast public discredit on the judiciary,

in violation of Canons 3(B)(1) and 4A, as well as Article V, Section 1-a(6) of the Texas Constitution. In

addition to the admonishment, District Judge was ordered to obtain four hours of education in the area

of the proper and ethical use of social media by judges.

Public Reprimand and Order of Additional Education

: District Judge’s jurisdiction included almost

all cases filed under Chapter 841 of the Texas Health and Safety Code for the purpose of determining

whether repeat sexual offenders should be deemed sexually violent predators, which would require

involuntary civil commitment after their release. If an offender is determined to be a predator, District

Judge maintains continuing jurisdiction. The State Counsel for Offenders Office (SCFO) was created to

provide representation to indigent offenders during these civil commitment proceedings.

The Commission found that District Judge treated attorneys from the SCOF, as well as one of their

expert witnesses, in a discourteous and undignified manner. The conduct was so bad that it led to a

perception that District Judge held a bias against these attorneys and their witness, and that SCFO

could not obtain a fair trial in his courtroom. The Commission noted several occasions where District

Judge’s comments were rude and demeaning to SCFO attorneys, including comments “that [attorney]

was ‘wasting’ everyone’s time; that [attorney] had a law degree and needed to ‘use it,’” that the

attorney’s “ability to practice law” was very frustrating to him, and threatened to throw attorneys out

of the courtroom and/or not let them practice in his court. His treatment of attorneys even led to a

potential juror noting during

voir dire

that District Judge was clearly bias. The Commission also noted

that his demeanor was undignified towards an expert who often testified for SCFO, and that District

Judge spoke to him in angry tones on several occasions.

Furthermore, the District Judgemade inappropriate comments and displayed images that were in poor

taste while speaking at a PAC meeting. While discussing the role of his court, District Judge displayed

pictures of Hannibal Lector and referred to defendants as “psychopaths.” He also divulged specific

information about several cases, including the name and picture of predators in cases he presided

over. In fact, District Judge referred to a predator whose case was ongoing in his court as a “pedophile

rapist,” which led to that offender filing a motion to recuse against him. The Commission concluded

that District Judge’s presentation could cause a reasonable person to perceive that he would not be

fair and impartial while presiding over civil commitment proceedings, and that his public comments

about specific offenders whose cases were subject to his court’s continuing jurisdiction suggested to a

how he would rule when those individuals come before the court in future proceedings.

Finally, the Commission also pointed out that District Judge had been the subject of at least 16 recusal

motions in just over six months, eight of which were granted. The Commission held that District Judge

violated Canon 3B(4), 3B(5), 3B(10), 4A(1), 4A(2), and Article V, §1-a(6)A. In addition to the public

reprimand, he must complete four hours in the areas of: (1) the appropriate treatment of attorneys,

witnesses, and others with whom the judge deals in an official capacity; (2) avoiding bias and the

appearance of bias; and (3) avoiding extrajudicial conduct that casts doubt on a judge’s capacity to act

impartially and/or interferes with the proper performance of the judge’s duties.

Public Admonition and Order of Additional Education

: District Judge refused a district attorney entry

into her courtroom. She also later made several references to this attorney being a “New York Jew,” both

directly to him and in the presence of others. District Judge told the Commission that she only made

the reference to explain a cultural difference. Two months later, she told a different assistant district

attorney that his beard made him look like a Muslim, and that she wouldn’t hire him. The Commission

found that her use of the term “New York Jew” and her statement about the attorney’s beard manifested

a religious and/or cultural bias. They further found that her refusal to allow the district attorney into

her courtroom violated the “Open Courts” doctrine, demonstrating a lack of professional competence

in the law and a failure to comply with the law. Finally, the Commission held that District Judge failed to