Judicial Commission Scolds Controversial Judge in Sex Offender Cases

A controversial Conroe judge who oversees civil committment cases of violent sexual predators has been publicly reprimanded by the state Commission on Judicial Conduct, the Houston Chronicle reports.

The Commission ordered Montgomery County District Judge Michael Seiler to "undergo additional judicial training" after finding that Seiler "berated and belittled attorneys representing sex offenders, openly criticized a witness, and made comments outside of the courtroom" that indicated an inability to be fair and impartial.

Seiler's antics came to light after a December 2014 Conroe Courier article that described how defense attorneys sought to recuse Seiler after he showed "hostility and deep-seated antagonism toward individuals alleged to be sexually violent predators.'"

In a March 2013 speech before the Texas Patriots PAC, Seiler "referred to predators as psychopaths" and compared them to Hanibal Lecter, a photo of whom appeared on a screen throughout Seiler's speech.

And as we wrote in January, Seiler told the audience how, during one hearing, "he kept a gun in his lap while sitting at the bench because the defendant was 'way out there.'"

Seiler was appointed in 2008 by then-Gov. Rick Perry, and is the sole judge for offenders in the state's embattled civil commitment program for sex offenders. The program is run by the Office of Violent Sex Offender Management, which few people seemed to have heard of until the Chron's Anita Hassan and Mike Ward broke the story of how 29 of these offenders had been quietly moved into an unlicensed group home in Acres Homes. (Hassan and Ward have been both kicking ass and taking names with this story).

The Chron reports that Senator John Whitmire, who filed complaints against Seiler with the Judicial Commission, said the Commission's order for additional training"confirms why he should not be hearing these cases."

Whitmire further told the Chron that "It's the worst case of repeat judicial misconduct like this that I've seen in my legislative career and in my professional experience as a lawyer. Whether you like people or not, if you're a judge, you've got to give them a fair hearing and fair access to court process....The report makes it clear that he should not to continue to handle these cases."

The Chron also reports that Seiler might lose his position under a bill, authored by Whitmire and passed by the Senate in April, that "is aimed at a complete overhaul" of the civil commitment program.

But hey, if that happens, Seiler might still be able to take his Hannibal Lecter speech on the road. Sounds like entertaining stuff.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Contributor Craig Malisow covers crooks, quacks, animal abusers, elected officials, and other assorted people for the Houston Press.
Contact: Craig Malisow