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Polk County Judge Allegedly Texted Advice to Prosecutor During Trial

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We've heard of spectators and reporters being admonished for fiddling on their cell phones during court proceedings, but never a judge. But State Rep. Harold Dutton (D-Houston) wants everyone to know that a Polk County judge wasn't using sound judgment (HEY-OH!) when she allegedly texted advice to prosecutors during a trial.

"Judge Elizabeth Coker, judge of the 258th Judicial District, demonstrated conduct unbecoming a judge by violating the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct," Dutton wrote in a resolution calling for Coker's impeachment, according to Your Houston News.

The article states, "During the alleged texting incident between Coker and 411th District Court Judge Kaycee Jones, who was a prosecutor for the Polk County District Attorney's Office at the time, Coker reportedly sent messages suggesting that prosecutors follow a line of questioning against defendant David Reeves that had not previously been considered. Reeves, accused of a felony charge of injury to a child, was later acquitted."

The story states that, according to David Wells, an investigator for the Polk County District Attorney's Office who says he witnessed the exchange, Jones wrote out the gist of the text on a yellow legal pad: "Judge says...baby pooped on (Reeves) -- if he threw a dog off the bed because the dog peed on bed what would he do if baby pooped on him?"

The story also cites a letter Jones wrote to the Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel for the State Bar of Texas in which she admitted to the texting: "On Aug. 8, 2012, I did receive a text message from Judge Coker that suggested a line of questioning in an injury to a Child trial over which she was president and telling me to tell the trial prosecutor...I was not the trial prosecutor and had nothing to do with the investigation or prosecution of the case, but I was present in the courtroom for portions of the trial as an observer. When I received the text, I hand-wrote the text verbatim and asked our investigator to deliver it to the prosecutor who was trying the case....I deeply regret that I acted in this manner. It was wrong and I knew better."

The article quoted Dutton as saying, "One of the things I have been doing is trying to improve our justice system so that we don't have people who are factually innocent being found legally guilty. I never thought we would have a situation where we would have a judge interjecting herself into a trial this way."

Amen.

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