Three Houston-area judges reprimanded by state agency for past conduct

Three Houston-area judges reprimanded by state agency for past conduct

The Texas Commission On Judicial Conduct recently admonished a Missouri City municipal court judge and publicly warned two Houston-area judges for previous instances of misconduct, the agency announced Monday.

Fort Bend County Pct. 3 Justice of the Peace Kelly Crow, Judge Ursula Hall of Harris County’s 165th Civil District Court and Missouri City Municipal Court Judge Robert Richter all appeared before the commission in early October to give testimony about the unrelated allegations. The commission on Oct. 28 ordered that they all receive an additional two hours of education.

The judges could not immediately be reached for comment by Monday night.

The misconduct dates back as far as 2018, according to the commission.

In February of that year, Richter, the municipal judge, ordered an attorney be held in contempt of court for not appearing on behalf of a client in a traffic court jury trial. The attorney, Paul Kubosh, had filed a motion for a continuance the day before, but it was denied.

The judge ordered Kubosh to be held in jail for a day and fined $100. The judge also set a hearing on March 1 to determine whether there was cause to hold the attorney in contempt.

The attorney was never personally served with Richter’s order or the date of his new hearing, for which he also did not appear, the commission said.

The judge on March 8 signed an arrest warrant for Kubosh, but the document was not backed up by an affidavit or written complaint. Kubosh’s request to vacate the arrest warrant was granted later that month.

In his appearance before the commission, Richter acknowledged that he made a mistake by not ensuring that Kubosh was personally served with the order. He also acknowledged that he issued the warrant without the proper documents.

The second judge, Hall, was accused of not acting on a creditor’s repeated requests for sanctions against three debtors in 2018.

A judge had already ruled in the case in 2014, but the creditor, Robert E. Nelsen, filed multiple post-judgment “enforcement motions” against the defendants starting in October 2018.

Hall did not rule on those motions by June 2019, when Nelsen asked that Hall be recused from the case. The judge did not take any action until the following September, when she declined to recuse herself and referred the motion to another judge.

The other judicial officer who faces a warning, Crow, publicly criticized a district court judge’s decision to release a capital murder suspect on bond.

The judge delivered her critique in response to a July 2019 Facebook post, published on a page titled “Inside Fort Bend County Courts.”

The post described the defendant, who was not identified in the release, as a “violent, repeat offender” and indicated that the person was arrested for violent crimes while out on bond.

“This makes me so sad,” the judge said in her comment. “I wonder how Judge Johnson would feel if the woman that was pistol whipped was his daughter, wife, or sister? He sounds like an activist judge trying to prove a point. That doesn’t help the woman who was hurt.”

Crow later told the commission that upon reflecting on her comment, “it would have been a more prudent choice to enhance and maintain confidences in our legal system by expressing my sentiment using different words.”

julian.gill@chron.com

Published at Tue, 17 Nov 2020 03:10:00 +0000

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