It seems that many Texas judges are spending more time in court or before investigators these days — as either defendants or targets. From sexual assault to arson to corruption to abuse, Texas jurists are facing a bumper crop of allegations with additional judicial scandals brewing in neighbor states of Louisiana and Mississippi. For the Fifth Circuit covering all three states, 2008 could be a black year.
This week, lawyers in Texas are closely following the on-going scandal over the indictment of Texas Supreme Court justice David Medina and his wife for arson and other crimes — indictments later quashed by the prosecutors. Click here
Then there is the expanding criminal investigation of U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent for sexual assault and corruption. Click here
Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Presiding Judge Sharon Keller has been nationally criticized for closing the doors of the clerk’s office to prevent a final death row appeal in violation of court practices. Click here Many are still calling for her removal.
Now, three justices on the Texas Supreme Court are facing serious ethics charges. Click here
The Texas system only recently got over scandals of alleged favoritism, including the state supreme court. Over a decade ago, there was great controversy over how Texas trial lawyers financed the campaigns of Democratic justices and how those justice appeared to favor the same lawyers. A feature on ’60 Minutes’ in 1989 called “Justice for Sale” helped expose the allegations.In the meantime, Dallas has continued to be hit with criticism for its record number of innocent people cleared by DNA in death row cases, click here
Of course, Texas has dubious competition from its neighbors of late. The bribery scandal of famed lawyer Dickie Scruggs has put considerable attention of the Mississippi courts. Click here
In the meantime, across the border in Louisiana, U.S. District Judge Thomas Porteous has been accused of lying to a bankruptcy court and seems headed toward impeachment. Click here
Obviously, this remains a small number of cases in a large legal system with some of the best judges and lawyers in the country. However, it could be a hot summer in the Old South as these cases continue in both the legal or political arenas.