Texas Watch files ethics complaints against Texas Supreme Court justices


Updated August 15, 2008 with results of August 14, 2008 hearings.

Chris Rizo at The Southeast Texas Record (h/t The Daily Muck at TPMMuckraker) reported yesterday that “[a]t least two Texas Supreme Court justices have ethics complaints pending against them” that were “filed by the judicial watchdog group Texas Watch” and which are scheduled for review on August 14, 2008. Mr. Rizo reports that the

The complaint against [Justice Nathan] Hecht stems from representation by the Jackson Walker law firm in a dispute with the Commission on Judicial Conduct in 2006 over promoting President George W. Bush’s short-lived nomination of former White House Counsel Harriet Miers to the U.S.
Supreme Court.

The complaint against [Justice David] Medina alleges that he may have violated state law by paying himself nearly $57,000 from his political funds over three years as mileage reimbursement for commuting between Austin and his Houston-area home.

Texas Watch announced filing the complaints against Justices Hecht and Medina back in January 24, 2008, at which time they also announced a third complaint against a sitting Texas Supreme Court justice:

AUSTIN – Complaints were filed this morning against Texas Supreme Court Justices Nathan Hecht and David Medina with the Texas Ethics Commission by the citizens group Texas Watch. The complaints allege that the justices used political contributions to pay for personal travel.

* * *

Earlier this week, Texas Watch filed a complaint against Justice Paul Green for violating the same statutory prohibition on converting political funds to personal use by paying for commuting expenses. Texas Watch has also notified the Public Integrity Unit of the Travis County District Attorney’s office of the complaints the group filed today.

Complete January 24, 2008 Texas Watch Press Release here

========================================================

Until I read Chris Rizo’s article today, I hadn’t heard of Texas Watch. Texas Watch describes itself as

a non-partisan, advocacy organization working to improve consumer and insurance protections for Texas families. Texas Watch’s thousands of activists across the state make their voices heard to preserve their rights and protections. Texas Watch strives to provide a counter to wealthy special interest lobby efforts and ensure Texas laws reflect the true needs of Texas families and consumers.

The above complaints were filed under its Court Watch project which

[f]or more than a decade, … has served to educat[e] the public about the importance of the Texas Supreme Court. Court Watch serves as a key resource on civil court issues, producing regular reports, analyses and releases to the public, the media and decision-makers. These activities foster broader public awareness, discussion and debate about the role of the Texas civil justice system and the actions of the Texas Supreme Court.

Harriet E. Miers and former Texas Supreme Court justice Alberto Gonzales should be the next project for Court Watch.

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10 Responses

  1. hi e.m.!
    any info on how responsive the texas ethics commission is to watchdog groups? what happens if they find someone has been unethical? is the person disbarred? removed from office? just fined and slapped on the wrist?

  2. Hey Nonnie,

    First, congrats on your Big Five-Oh. (50,000 hits, that is.)

    Regarding the Texas Ethics Commission and the various other state grievance processes, I’ve seen no indication that these fora have been politicized in the manner that DoJ has been. That’s why I believe that grievances remain viable alternatives for some level of relief.

    With that said, violations of the rules of professional conduct can result in various penalties, including private or public reprimands, suspensions or disbarment. Generally, the severity of the penalty depends on the severity of the violation.

    I’m looking forward to the August 14 hearings.

    E.M.

  3. thanks e.m.! it was an exciting day over at the raisin! :wink:

    maybe i just have a skewed idea of how things work in texas. so much there seems so corrupt that i have to wonder about any agency connected to the state. that’s how things seem to work here in floriduhhhh.

    i wonder how severe they will find the offenses to be. both of the judges have committed the same no-no by using political funds for private use. if they both did it, is it coincidental or is that just how all the judges operate in texas? if it’s a matter of “well, everybody does it”, then i suspect the outcome will be a slap on the wrist, and the 2 will do their mea culpas and then pay back the money. i will wait to hear what you report after the hearing.

  4. I don’t mean to imply that these hearings – or any other grievance procedures – are immune to improper political pressure. They may very well be. But if these grievances are set for hearing, the issues have already made it through a couple of reviews which found the allegations – against two sitting Supreme Court justices no less – sufficient to warrant the hearings. We’ll know something after August 14.

  5. […] Texas Supreme Court Justices’ Ethics Hearings Posted on August 15, 2008 by E.M. As I noted back in July, ethics hearings on grievances filed against Texas Supreme Court Justices Nathan Hecht […]

  6. […] of watch groups and some private attorneys have filed several grievances. Texas Watch has filed grievances against Texas Supreme Court Justices Nathan Hecht and David Medina for unethical activity taking place at the state level in Texas. At the federal level, CREW has […]

  7. My District Judge here in Texas excused an ex-parte regarding my 15 year old daughter who was ‘allegedly kidnapped’ and boarded a plane with 2 escorts hired by her Dad. The Judge denied my daughter’s rights of her chosen primary parent (whom she had chosen her Mom). We have been alienated now for 8 months.
    My daughter is in an unregulated facility in which involves a national movement. This unregulated facility meets all qualifications to be completely shut down. A congressman is personally interested in seeing this place is shut down…Who can help?

    • I might suggest contacting the following:

      – Texas Legal Services Center – Texas Watch – Bad Prosecutors

      If these links don’t work, they’re also in my blogroll.

      Good luck and please keep me posted.

  8. EM,
    Thanks for the infro, but not sure exactly where and who to contact.
    There’s more…
    My ex was questioned where the $52,000 was coming to pay for my daughter’s unregulated facility. My ex replied, “My Dad died and I got all his inheritance” all in one breath. Then Judge said, My Dad died too, then “K, your grant is denied.” Afterwards, my ex billed me later for the $52,000.
    I am bribed twice by the unregulated facility to sign a contract to “dis-own” my daughter, in order to have contact with her. I refuse to sign it.
    Everyday is crucial to my daughter’s mental health for the damage being done to her in that facility. She was slammed in there against her will and was not allowed to use a phone to call an attorney for help. This facility is the 3rd on the top of the list of unregulated facilities throughout the US and known for “Stockholm Syndrome”, what the Germans did to the Jewish children in WWII. Congressman George Miller has had a personal interest to seeing that this particular facility is shut down, he wrote 3 bills with his committee. (Two Bills were written before my daughter arrived there on Sept. 24th 2008.) [Google: ASTART and HR Bill 911 and Congressman George Miller~ there are more than 35 websites of teen abuse in Wilderness Boot Camps, unregulated.]
    This ‘America Teen Holocaust’ is serious and the most severe torture a teen could ever experience…
    Miller says, “This facility meets all qualifications for it to be shut down completely.”
    The ex-parte was denied to prevent my daughter from leaving Texas. Her rights of parental choice was denied.
    My rights denied on her release, my joint parent rights were previously denied for my children’s medical rights; (overlooked by the Judge as he promised me on stand that all things would be fair). And now 8 months of alienation with my 15 year old daughter. There is no abuse or addictions in my family at all and my daughter is not an uncontrollable child.
    Now, my ex has filed a lawsuit to remove the other three children’s jurisdiction because he wants to move them out to CA with his new wife and adopted baby. My ex thinks he is an exception to the 9 Judges order signed Jan 1, 09′ including not removing children of divorce cases from the county jurisdiction,[attached to all divorce cases in the county]. My ex is a real estate atty and a good ‘buddy of the bar’…I need help before June 22nd to keep my other three children in Texas to avoid more alienation from their Mom.
    I need my daughter released from that facility in CA to live with me. I want all 4 of my children. Could someone in the
    above county court help me? I have already been through
    Appellate Court for a 60 day file review and released due to
    not being a final order. I need help!!!

    • Karen,

      I emailed you the contact information for some people in Texas that may be able to assist you in finding the right attorney to help you. You can now email them directly.

      You might also try going to your Congressperson’s local office to ask for help.

      Whether or not these referrals can help, don’t give up searching for help for your daughter.

      E.M.

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