Taunt First, Trial Afterwards: Texas Judge Goes To Facebook To Disclose Ticketing Of Texas A&M Football Star

250px-Johnny_Manziel_in_Kyle_FieldMunicipal court judge Lee Johnson in Ennis, Texas, is the latest public official to rush to Facebook like a teenager on a tear. Johnson breathlessly reported that a “certain unnamed (very) recent Heisman Trophy winner” had been ticketed in his jurisdiction — an obvious reference to Texas A&M quarterback and Heisman winner Johnny Manziel. Johnson then wrote “I meant to say ‘allegedly’ speeding, my bad.” It was striking that Johnson thought the problem was not saying allegedly as opposed to his turning into some form of judicial paparazzi.

Johnson thankfully avoided the “OMG” start to most teenage ravings but he did post the following

“Too funny. So it seems that a certain unnamed (very) recent Heisman Trophy winner from a certain unnamed ‘college’ down south of here got a gift from the Ennis P.D. while he was speeding on the 287 bypass yesterday. It appears that even though the OU defense couldn’t stop him, the City of Ennis P.D. is a different story altogether. Time to grow up/slow down young ‘un. You got your whole life/career ahead of you. Gig Em indeed.”

Nothing like a judge rejoicing in nailing a celebrity and then offering public commentary based on an assumption of guilt. This is part of what I have long complained about — the merging of our courts with our entertainment industry. With people like Judge Brown and Nancy Grace turning the law into a perverse form of entertainment, some judges cannot resist the pull of publicity. This is often expressed in so called “novel sentencing” where judges impose humiliating punishments.

In Johnson’s case, he wanted to be first to taunt a celebrity as if the Queen of Hearts said “Taunt First, Trial Afterwards.”

It hardly improved his professional misconduct by adding an “oops” that “I meant to say ‘allegedly’ speeding, my bad.”

Here are a few canons that were discarded by Johnson from the Texas Judicial Code:

CANON 1
Upholding the Integrity and Independence of the Judiciary

An independent and honorable judiciary is indispensable to justice in our society. A judge should participate in establishing, maintaining and enforcing high standards of conduct, and should personally observe those standards so that the integrity and independence of the judiciary is preserved.The provisions of this Code are to be construed and applied to further that objective.
CANON 2
Avoiding Impropriety and the Appearance of Impropriety In All of the Judge’s Activities

A. A judge shall comply with the law and should act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.
B. A judge shall not allow any relationship to influence judicial conduct or judgment A judge shall not lend the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of the judge or others . . .

CANON 4
Conducting the Judge’s Extra-Judicial Activities to Minimize the Risk of Conflict with Judicial Obligations

A. Extra-Judicial Activities in General. A judge shall conduct all of the judge’s extra-judicial activities so that they do not:
(1) cast reasonable doubt on the judge’s capacity to act impartially as a judge; or
(2) interfere with the proper performance of judicial duties.

Source: USA Today

23 thoughts on “Taunt First, Trial Afterwards: Texas Judge Goes To Facebook To Disclose Ticketing Of Texas A&M Football Star

  1. East – well me for one.

    But yeah, we have become a celebrity obsessed nation and everyone wants their 15 minutes. There aer always been doofs like this but it has only been recently that they have been able to display their stupidity to large audiences.

  2. Ennis Municipal Court Judges Qualifications are set by the city…… They may or may not have to be licensed attorneys….. Still I think they are governed by the Judicial Branch and should have to adhere to those Cannon and Ethics…. In this case if he was appointed….. Then the appointment can be recalled as well…… The acts are repugnant….. And should be censured…..

  3. The judge is certainly not judicial. However, while I love free spirits Johnny Football may end up being Ryan Leaf if he doesn’t “get his mind right” soon.

  4. Only buttheads put their faces on ButtBook. Or is it the other way around?
    Went in dumb, come out dumb too…..

  5. Thanks AY for the specific Texas ethics, but from an ethical/judicial point of view from ay State this Judges actions seem completely unethical and call into question his impartiality. We don’t know what led to the ticket and whether it was issued by an officer who wanted to add that to his scrapbook, since Manziel is such a phenomenon. More importantly JT raises the question of the
    intermixing the judicial with the celebrity. There always has been grandstanding by prosecutors to gain celebrity from their high profile cases. I the past Judicial conduct was expected to at least appear more sober. That line of sobriety has been passed and destroyed in recent times. Many judges now “play for the camera” so to speak. How is it that I remember Lace Ito so clearly after all these years? This Judge, however, has managed to lower the bar further by using this as a breathless Facebook posting.

    We have become a society of celebrity, as exemplified by the fact that we all recognize the name Kardashian for no apparent reason. It bothers me that I know the name Kate Middleton, even though I’ve avoided reading anything about English nobility. Celebrity has captured the news media, or is it the news media has captured celebrity as a means of not reporting the news? Celebrity watching has corrupted all areas of our society as well as this asinine Judge from Texas.

  6. Celebrity watching has corrupted all areas of our society as well as this asinine Judge from Texas. -Mike Spindell

    Yes… “Celebrity watching” and reality television…

  7. “A judge shall comply with the law and should act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.”

    Oops.

    Somebody give that judge a ticket.

  8. Mike S,

    My point was and is…. Municipal Judges may not need to be attorneys… But, they are held to the same standard as officers of the court, in this case a judge…

  9. When it takes 48 hours of filming to get 10 minutes of TV time , how much reality is there really? –AY

    Yep. “Reality”, not reality (without the quotes)…

  10. It appears that Judge Johnson is a lawyer and a graduate of Baylor Law School, which explains his antipathy toward Texas A&M. But the point, of course, is that judges ought to avoid posting anything on social media sites.

  11. Thanks Mike A for the point of clarification….. Then not only can he be sanctioned as a judge but as an attorney…

  12. A lack of accountability for a public official you say, Mike A? In Texas? I’m shocked.

    Then again I’m also shocked there isn’t a special font for sarcasm.

  13. A rather folly jurist. He makes a snarky and thinly veiled identification of the defendant (as if how many others are recent Heisman Trophy winners) and then the allegedly. If he had actually named the defendant by his given name, the identification would probably be less likely idenfied by the readers who might not know his name but could discover who he was by announcing his title and this award. eg: If a person was identified as The Prime Minister of Luxumbourg, it would elecit readers to know who he is, but if they only wrote Jean-Claude Junker, few in the US would know who he is by name only.

    Moreover, if people had to sufferer embarassment by being posted on a facebook page for engaging in their right to a hearing on a traffic court by some rogue judge it would have a detrimental effect on people freely deciding what course of action to do. Pay the ticket or face the possibility of being humiliated in a public forum and insulted should you contest or mitigate the matter before a court.

    Hopfully the football player will file a complaint with the judicial review board in that state. But I wonder if it would be futile since the process can often protect government officials who engage in misconduct.

  14. This judge was NOT joking. He seems to enjoy ridiculing others….to a point that is almost sadistic. Ask anyone in Ennis.

  15. Most young adults get a speeding ticket at sometime in their life ( I remember getting two in one week). The judge is wrong. He is a 52 year old adult that graduated from Baylor Law School. His tone is demeaning, and to call Johnny “young’un” is bit much. I think it is perhaps the judge that needs to grow up. I would be interested to know what will transpire with the reprimand.

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