Thanks-A-Lot: Texas Attorney Accuses Judge of Pressuring Him To Buy Girl Scout Cookie

Judge Elia Cornejo Lopez has been accused by Texas lawyer Nat C. Perez of a rather unique form of abuse: cookie coercion. Perez has filed an unusual motion for recusal that lists, among other complaints, Lopez’s alleged pressure on Perez to buy her daughter’s girl scout cookies. He suggests that a couple boxes of “Thanks-a-lot” would go a long way with Lopez and that he refusal meant he could not “Tag-a-long” in cases. . . but he did get a judicial “Shoutout”

The motion by the Brownsville lawyer Nat Perez was filed in a child sexual assault case against Perez’s client, Aroldo Humberto Cadriel, 65. Perez accuses Lopez of showing “animosity, dislike and disdain for counsel.” Her alleged wrath he suggests was “possibly exacerbated by his refusal to purchase a case of Girl Scout cookies from her daughter’s troop.”
He alleges that “tThis conduct is an open, blatant and obvious” and “Judge Elia Cornejo Lopez has gone out of her way to remove or prevent attorney Nat C. Perez Jr. from representing clients in her Court whenever possible.”

Before you say that this is just how the cookie crumbles for not supporting some cute girl scout, here is the issue of a defendant’s general right to select his own counsel. It is unclear what the basis is for the earlier alleged efforts to exclude Perez from cases, but such actions raise serious constitutional questions.

Asking lawyers to buy your own daughter’s cookies can be viewed as a bit coercive for lawyers even if meant with the best intentions. It is common for co-workers or bosses to allow their daughters to seek sales. Usually this is taken as innocent and non-threatening. However, it is not a good practice for judges in light of their power over lawyers. It is hard to say no to such a request.

Notably, this issue has come up in Texas in 1988 with the following question and answer to the ethics office:

QUESTION: Is there a violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct for the court personnel of a judge’s office to sell Girl Scout cookies or other items to benefit community, school, civic, or community organizations?

ANSWER: This committee’s answer in our opinion No. 110 is applicable to the posed question. Subject to the limitations set forth in that opinion, the committee perceives no violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct in the described activities.

I was unable unfortunately to get access to opinion No. 110.

However, California issued this position on the girl scout cookie dilemma: “3. Judge may accompany her/his daughter selling girl scout cookies, but must not make judicial position known or otherwise use it to advance sales. (Canon 4C[3][d][I]) (IR #136)”

However, Oklahoma says the following:

QUESTION 1:  Should a judge prohibit a member of the judge’s staff from soliciting or offering to sell goods for charitable or religious purposes (e.g., Girl Scout cookies for staff member’s daughter) during office hours at the staff member’s desk?

¶ 1 WE ANSWER:  YES.

The issue, like so many things under ethics rules, generally turns on the context and specifics. I would be surprised if most ethics boards would object to a judge allowing a daughter to sell the cookie. However, when the judge becomes personally involved, ethical issues arise.

Lopez’s campaign site shows a picture of her family, including what appears to be the girl scout culprit involved in this cookie caper.

The site also notably states that Lopez was the first female Municipal Court Judge for the City of Brownsville, making history and

“I began my public service by serving:

1) as a patrol girl at Longoria Elementary School, Brownsville, Texas;

2) a girl scout Daisy, Brownie, and Junior Girl Scout . . .

The hold of the girl scouts obviously runs deep in the halls of government.

Source: Brownsville Heraldas first seen on ABA Journal

30 thoughts on “Thanks-A-Lot: Texas Attorney Accuses Judge of Pressuring Him To Buy Girl Scout Cookie

  1. You all do know (perhaps) that officers in the Army are forbidden from associating on an “equal” basis with enlisted men/women. Such equality does not and can not exist. And any trensaction, of even personal nature, presupposes a superior-subordinate relationship.

    Don’t pull rank on EMs or WACs. Or YOU will be screwed.
    Punishable by UCMJ I believe, but never looked it up.

    So I thought that judges did not have lesser requirements than lie on an officer. Obviously wrong.

  2. Anonymously, did you get a badge for selling cookies? We didn’t! OH MY GOSH!!! A BADGE FOR SELLING COOKIES!!! If badges had been that easy back then, I might have had more than FOUR!!!

  3. If the Girl Scouts are anywhere near as institutionally homophobic and delusional as the Boy Scouts, buying a box of cookies to protect one’s job from a crooked judge is the moral equivalent of buying a ticket to a support a skinhead Nazi picnic even if one has no intention of attending. A Boy Scout MUST believe in SOME god, any god, they just aren’t allowed to be rational. The Boy Scouts can’t be a 501 (c) 3 because they are so exclusionary. Is this also true of the girls?

  4. ethics? really? People, employees, employers and more have been selling cookies, chocolate, cupcakes, knick-knacks, raffle tickets, and a bazillion other items forever.

    No one thinks it is inappropriate in all the other situations. They may be irritated by it but they spend the $10-$20 and buy some cookies.

  5. Perez accuses Lopez of showing “animosity, dislike and disdain for counsel.” Her alleged wrath he suggests was “possibly exacerbated by his refusal to purchase a case of Girl Scout cookies from her daughter’s troop.”
    ========
    The motion by the Brownsville lawyer Nat Perez was filed in a child sexual assault case against Perez’s client, Aroldo Humberto Cadriel, 65. Perez accuses Lopez of showing “animosity, dislike and disdain for counsel.” Her alleged wrath he suggests was “possibly exacerbated by his refusal to purchase a case of Girl Scout cookies from her daughter’s troop.”
    He alleges that “tThis conduct is an open, blatant and obvious” and “Judge Elia Cornejo Lopez has gone out of her way to remove or prevent attorney Nat C. Perez Jr. from representing clients in her Court whenever possible.”

    Before you say that this is just how the cookie crumbles for not supporting some cute girl scout, here is the issue of a defendant’s general right to select his own counsel. It is unclear what the basis is for the earlier alleged efforts to exclude Perez from cases, but such actions raise serious constitutional questions.

    Asking lawyers to buy your own daughter’s cookies can be viewed as a bit coercive for lawyers even if meant with the best intentions. It is common for co-workers or bosses to allow their daughters to seek sales. Usually this is taken as innocent and non-threatening. However, it is not a good practice for judges in light of their power over lawyers. It is hard to say no to such a request.
    ========
    What if an IRS manager leaves girl scout cookies on a table in Chicago, and almost nobody leaves any money?

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  7. Attorney Perez is not liked by many. This isn’t the first judge who has had issues with him. He is just filing a motion against Judge Lopez for publicity. Perez is a joke.

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