Update on Texas Supreme Court Justices’ Ethics Hearings

As I noted back in July, ethics hearings on grievances filed against Texas Supreme Court Justices Nathan Hecht and David Medina were scheduled to be heard on August 14, 2008.

Chris Rizo, who has covered these complaints for The Southeast Texas Record, reports at LegalNewsline.com that Judge Hecht’s ethics complaint was referred for further grievance proceedings:

AUSTIN, Texas (Legal Newsline)-The Texas Ethics Commission has decided to hold a formal hearing to investigate charges that state Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht accepted an illegal campaign contribution, a watchdog group told Legal Newsline on Friday.

The panel, also on Thursday, postponed the preliminary hearing into charges that Supreme Court Justice David Medina illegally reimbursed himself from his campaign account.

Mr. Rizo also reports that Judge Medina’s complaint was postponed until the regular October meeting of the Texas Ethics Commission:

As for Medina, Texas Watch filed its complaint against him in January. His matter will be taken up behind closed doors at the next regular meeting of the Ethics Commission in October, when the panel will decide whether the case warrants a formal hearing, [Alex Winslow, director of Texas Watch] said.

Read Mr. Rizo’s complete article here .

The Associated Press’ Jay Root also covered the scheduled hearings. He reports via the Houston Chronicle that, (perhaps?) defying conventional wisdom, Justice Hecht represented himself:

AUSTIN — Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht, appearing before the Texas Ethics Commission, defended himself Thursday against allegations he broke campaign finance laws by accepting discounted legal fees to fight an abuse of office complaint.

And that after the unfavorable hearing results, Justice Hecht bravely faced the press:

The state commission took no action Thursday but will consider the matter at a formal hearing later, officials said. Hecht, the longest-serving member of the Texas Supreme Court, quietly slipped past reporters at the state capitol and did not return phone calls from The Associated Press.

* * *

It’s not clear how long Hecht spent at the closed hearing. Reporters waiting for him to emerge were told Hecht had given them the slip.

“He’s been gone,” [Wilhelmina Delco, a member of the Texas Ethics Commission,] said hours after the hearing began early Thursday afternoon. “He eased out the other door.” (Emphasis mine).

As reported by Mr. Root, the complaint against Justice Hecht arose from his support of Harriet Miers’ nomination by President Bush to the United States Supreme Court:

Hecht was sanctioned in 2006 by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, which alleged that he had abused his office by promoting Harriet Miers for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. Legal canons bar Texas judges from endorsing candidates for public office, but Hecht was able to get the sanction reversed on appeal by arguing that Miers was not running for elective office.

But Harriet Miers was more than just a Supreme Court nominee that Justice Hecht has decided to promote: Ms. Miers is also Justice Hecht’s former girlfriend and it was also Justice Hecht who first introduced Ms. Miers and President Bush. Unsurprisingly, this story leads back to President George W. Bush.

Read Mr. Root’s complete article here .

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


One Response



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: