Every so often, whether through compassion or some degree of recklessness, judges can remind us that they, too, are everyday people — but it just so happens that it's the reckless decisions that make headlines. They've been caught drinking and driving, lying, sexting, popping pills and, in one particularly crazy case, posting fake escort ads of an ex-girlfriend online.
Sure, everybody makes mistakes. And in fact, except for a public rebuke from the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, judges are often forgiven for theirs. And then they go on judging the other everyday people who appear before them in court (not the fake escort ad guy).
But in some of the below cases, there really was no turning back — if only for the public blowback their misbehavior caused. In light of the Houston justice of the peace's recent suspension over some particularly salacious allegations, here's a look back at some of the craziest behavior from judges in Texas.
1. Judge Hilary Green, Houston justice of the peace. The SCJC placed Green on leave without pay earlier this month for admitting to the pot-smoking and pill-popping. She had admitted to smoking weed four or five times and taking Ecstasy twice in 2009 and 2010. She also admitted to having a dependence on cough syrup and admitted to buying Tussionex from her ex-boyfriend several times "at a gas station on the southwest side of Houston," she told the commission. Among other things, she also admitted to sexting with her bailiff from the bench and trying to buy Tussionex from him, using codewords such as "cookie dough" and "screws and bolts" in the secret text messages. Because that's not enough, her ex-husband also claimed in divorce court records and later to the commission that Green bought prostitutes on two occasions in Austin and Houston — but Green denies this.
2. County Court-at-Law Judge Christopher Dupuy, Galveston County. In 2015, police began investigating Dupuy after his ex-girlfriend and a woman he had been pursuing (but who rejected him) found escort ads on the Internet, which advertised that they were charging $70 for 30 minutes and were "very fetish friendly." The women immediately suspected that Dupuy had created the fake ads — and sure enough, investigators traced the IP address back to him. But when police came to Dupuy's home to serve an arrest warrant, the case got darker: They broke down the door to discover Dupuy with a laser-sighted 9mm pistol within reach, then found a bag full of weapons, including another laser-sighted pistol with a silencer attached, a 950,000-volt stun gun, a large knife, magazines and, to top it off, zip ties.
Dupuy, who was then held on $600,000 bail, was not on the bench at this time. He was forced to resign after he pleaded guilty to abuse of power — for retaliating against attorneys, including the one who represented his ex-wife in their divorce, and trying to jail them for contempt of court. The State Commission on Judicial Conduct also disciplined him for lying under penalty of perjury: During a hearing over a protective order his ex-wife sought against him, Dupuy lied about whether he owned a silencer. His ex-wife sought the protective order after authorities discovered Dupuy's alleged plot to kill her and then to stage a boating accident in New Zealand. Police couldn't prove it was a real plot, so they dropped the case. Ultimately, Dupuy got two months of probation for the official oppression, and the charges for creating the fake escort ads were dropped for what Judge Ryan Patrick, who is reportedly the top pick for U.S. attorney of the Southern District of Texas, said was an "overbroad" statute.
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3. County Judge Joel Baker, Smith County. It doesn't get any more ironic than this. Former Smith County Judge Joel Baker resigned from both his position as Smith County judge and as vice president of the State Commission on Judicial Conduct after he was accused of sending more than a thousand explicit text messages to a woman he had added as a friend on Facebook. The best part: Some of the sexts were time-stamped during SCJC meetings while the commission was reviewing judicial misconduct complaints. The woman he was messaging had contacted a private investigator after learning that he was a public official, and the two plotted to collect all the messages, then dump them at KLTV, which broke the story.
4. County Court-At-Law Judge William Adams, Aransas County. There's something kinda twisted about a judge who oversees domestic abuse and child abuse cases beating his disabled daughter with a belt for downloading Internet video games. Judge Adams's daughter, who has cerebral palsy, posted a video of the beating in 2011, once she had become an adult, because she wanted voters to know something about her dad, as she had said in interviews (the beating on tape had occurred in 2004). The SCJC had suspended Adams while it looked into the case, but because the statute of limitations had expired, Adams couldn't be criminally charged, and the SCJC let Adams go back to the bench. He was no longer allowed to oversee cases involving physical abuse, and voters didn't re-elect him.
5. Judge Betty Brock Bell, Houston justice of the peace. For the 20 years that Betty Brock Bell was the JP for Precinct 7, she wasn't particularly popular, with perpetually low approval ratings from the defense bar. But she was even more unpopular after she was convicted of felony tampering with a government record for fraudulently obtaining a handicap parking sticker by using her dead mother's name. She was sentenced to two years' probation and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine and perform 120 hours of community service. Defense attorneys argued she should get her job back on the bench, but State District Judge Mary Lou Keel said it would undermine the public's trust in the criminal justice system.
6. U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent, Southern District of Texas, Galveston Division. Kent was sent to prison after being impeached by Congress and convicted of obstruction of justice, for lying about unwanted sexual advances on his employees in his courtroom. Kent had been accused of groping his case manager repeatedly both on top and underneath her clothing and of trying to force her to perform oral sex on him, and of performing unwanted oral and digital sex on his secretary. During his prison stay, he tried to have his 33-month sentence vacated by claiming he was being treated unfairly in prison, where he said he was once forced to strip naked and perform calisthenic exercises, and was sent to solitary confinement and forced to listen to inmates being raped. He said he was unfairly not allowed to join a substance-abuse program for alcoholism, and was unfairly labeled a sex offender. He finished serving his sentence in 25 months.