Private Reprimand of a District Court Judge (03/02/2015)


The judge failed to comply with the law and failed to maintain professional competence in the law by directing a sheriff's deputy to attach a local attorney and bring him to her courtroom in handcuffs for a short hearing on an unopposed motion. The judge should have known by the method of securing the attorney's appearance would be perceived by the attorney and the public as extreme and punitive and would cast public discredit upon the judiciary and the administration of justice. While recognizing that judges have discretion in how and when they may exercise the powers of the court, the Commission also notes that issuing an order to detain an attorney and bring him to before the court in handcuffs is an extraordinary power that should be exercised rarely and with great caution, particularly when that individual's liberty is at stake. Depriving the attorney of his liberty and forcing him to be paraded in handcuffs through the courthouse in front of colleagues, family and others under circumstances presented in this case constituted egregious legal error, which the courts have recognized to be one of the exceptions to the rule against sanctioning a judge for mere legal error. [Violation of Canons 2A and 3B(2) of the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct]. Private Reprimand of a District Court Judge. 03/02/2015.