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Ornery, Possibly Horny Brazoria Judge in Trouble

The first indication something was rotten at the Brazoria County Juvenile Probation Department arose last year, when a probation officer was charged with trading sex with a 16-year-old girl in exchange for not revoking the kid's probation. He copped a plea bargain and got probation.

Now, the chairman of the county's juvie probation board, Judge James Blackstock, is charged with 14 criminal counts of "official oppression" for groping, kissing, and sending nasty e-mail pics to three female employees of the department (and, oh yeah, for asking one of the women to show him her boobs. In the office!)

Blackstock, 61, a bearded and portly Marine Corps vet (and Baylor Law grad) who's been a judge since 1988, has resigned his position as board chair and been suspended indefinitely with pay by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct. He hasn't issued a denial to the Class A misdemeanor charges yet. The Republican-dominated Brazoria County Courthouse, a cauldron of gossip and behind-the-scenes politics (like most county courthouses), appears fairly dumbfounded by the latest turn of events.

"Everything is hush-hush," said one courthouse employee. "All the judges have said, `You're not allowed to talk about it.' "

Blackstock is married with three grown children. His wife teaches elementary school in Angleton. Described as "ornery as hell" even by courthouse workers who like him, Blackstock has been in hot water before with state judicial authorities over his handling of a few cases, but it's never reached the criminal realm until now.

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Brazoria County District Attorney Jeri Yenne, one of the state's few female DAs, is said not to be a particularly big fan of Blackstock, who presides over probate and county court at-law cases. But she, like everyone else, isn't elaborating on the case.

In 1999, Yenne pursued a case against then-Sen. Buster Brown of Lake Jackson, the top-ranking Republican in the state senate at the time, for groping and kissing a 20-year-old female employee during an office "golf lesson," but that case never went further after Brown issued a written apology. Brown left politics soon thereafter.

If the case against Blackstock isn't settled one way or another, it sets up for an interesting trial. It could end up being a swearing match between the judge and his three female accusers, but presumably some sort of electronic computer trail exists from the allegedly naughty e-mail pics he is accused of sending that purportedly depict vaginas, breasts and, supposedly, one unidentified male committing some sort of sex act.

-- Steve Olafson

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