Private Admonition and Order of Additional Education of a Justice of the Peace (10/28/01)


The judge took no action for eighteen (18) months on a traffic case pending in the judge's court after the judge voluntarily recused from the case.  After a trial was finally held, presided over by another Justice of the Peace, the traffic defendant requested to see the court's file.  The judge, based on the Public Information Act, denied the traffic defendant's request.  Even after the judge was informed by various sources, including staff of the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, that the Public Information Act did not apply to the records of the judiciary, the judge only permitted the traffic defendant to view certain documents contained in the defendant's court's file. The judge further admitted that the policy of the judge's court was to refer any party who requests to see the court's file on his or her case to the Public Information Act, which is posted in the court's office.  The judge lacked competence in the laws governing public access to court files and judicial record, and the unreasonable delay in hearing the case constituted an unjustifiable failure to timely execute the business of the court.  [Violation of Article 5, Section 1-a(6)A of the Texas Constitution, Section 33.001(b) of the Texas Government Code, and Canon 3B(2) of the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct.]  Private Admonition and Order of Additional Education of a Justice of the Peace (10/28/01)