Harris County Criminal Court-at-Law judge Donald W. Jackson, 59, has been indicted on a misdemeanor charge of official oppression – allegedly offering to get a DWI defendant help in dismissing her case in exchange for a sexual relationship. Notably, he allegedly insisted that he was not interested in “a one-night stand” in seeking to secure counsel for Ariana M. Venegas. If so, it is a new variation on past judicial pick-up lines that simply offer to trade sex for rulings.
Jackson has been a judge for 17 years.
Venegas, 27, was charged with driving while intoxicated and ended up in Jackson’s court.
Jackson is likely to be tried before a specially appointed judge and is likely to also answer questions before the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct. He could face a year in jail.
Jared Woodfill, chairman of the Harris County Republican Party, has also announced that the Republican party is likely to investigate the charges since Jackson is a Republican judge.
What is different from past judicial scandals is that Jackson is not accused of offering to dismiss the charges but rather to help Venegas secure a lawyer. Nevertheless, there is no question that such a contact and offer is highly improper on a ethical level for a litigant before the judge. His desire for a meaningful relationship would not materially improve the issue. He later recused himself.
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