Texas Judge Resigns After Disclosure That She Texted Prosecutors To Help Them In Criminal Case

tumblr_inline_mv8r6oORVN1qij8k6We previously discussed the disturbing ethics cases against Texas district Judge Elizabeth E. Coker who was caught sending text messages to prosecutors to help them with a case. Coker is now stepping down in a voluntary agreement with the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, though some have objected that such a voluntary departure is not sufficient punishment for such an egregious lack of ethics.

Jones admitted that while she was an Assistant District Attorney, she received text messages from Coker who was sitting on bench during the trial of David Reeves, who was facing a felony charge of injury to his child. Coker was clearly not satisfied with the prosecutors examinations and sent a series of questions to be asked of the witnesses. Despite the clearly improper nature of these communications, Jones served as a conduit to the trial attorney and passed along the questions.

Kaycee JonesA letter from Jones (shown right) states:

“On August 8, 2012, I did receive a text message from Judge Coker that suggested a line of questioning in an Injury to a Child trial over which she was presiding and telling me to tell the trial prosecutor. I was not the trial prosecutor and had nothing to do with the investigation or prosecution of the case, but I was present in the courtroom for portions of the trial as an observer. When I received the text, I hand wrote the text verbatim and asked our investigator to deliver it to the prosecutor who was trying the case . . .

I deeply regret that I acted in this manner. It was wrong and I knew better.”

Here is a picture of Jones being sworn in as a judge for a term lasting to 2016.

It is not clear whether Jones has been able to escape any serious discipline for her role in this controversy, but there are no articles on any charges facing Jones. At a minimum, one would expect Jones’ fitness for the bench would be examined.

As for Coker, some have argued that her actions were an abuse of the legal process and that she should face charges before the bar.

What do you think?

25 thoughts on “Texas Judge Resigns After Disclosure That She Texted Prosecutors To Help Them In Criminal Case”

  1. “Penny Wise and Pound Foolish”

    What’s the federal equivalent of the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct?

    The Supreme Court should be impeached and convicted for abuse of the power of government against the people and subversion of the Constitution.

    Among the most recent criminal violations by the Extreme Court are denouncing the Constitution to a foreign audience in a foreign country and cavalierly commingling the definitions of “state” and “federal” to achieve a subjective, ideological agenda.

    Trump is wrong. The 14th amendment should not be repealed, the entire corrupted form of governance should be repealed. Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution should be brought to bear with maximal frequency and extreme prejudice, and American governance should be repealed back to stringent implementation of the Preamble (binding), Constitution and Bill of Rights (original) as the restricted-vote republic of 1789.

  2. AS a criminal defense attorney I am all too familiar with judges doing all they can to insure convictions in many criminal cases. This particular judge simply went even beyond the usual more subtle efforts of other trial judges to help the prosecution win their case.

  3. In Arizona both the judge and the jury (through the judge) can ask questions of a witness or defendant. No one would have to send a note to anyone here.

  4. John Smith

    No, the details do not matter, except for the degree of punishment. It was certainly unethical conduct by the judge and the prosecutor. Deserving of disbarment at an absolute minimum, given the circumstances. Arguably a conspiracy to obstruct justice.

    Many years ago in a land far away, while defending a civil tax matter as an AUSA, I once received a call directly from the judge assigned to the case. It was early in the case, before my answer was due. This judge (now deceased) had a reputation as a huge ball buster in the courtroom, and I, a mere buck private in the scheme of things, was terrified when the Judge announced their name over the phone. The judge asked me “What’s this case about?”

    The call was early in the morning and I was the only person in the office. They don’t teach you how to deal with this kind of stuff in law school. I had not had this happen before (and thankfully have not had it happen since).

    I’m not going to share the details of how I dealt with this, but I can honestly say that I broke no ethical rules myself and brought to the attention of others in the office what happened.

    This kind of stuff should NEVER happen. Experienced litigators understand that it does happen, unfortunately. Part of what we call the “unpredictability” of litigation.

  5. As to the INFORMED people who ask why the judge didn’t simply ask the questions, my take is she wanted to help the prosecutor. They’re probably friends and she didn’t want to show up her friend.

  6. I often say you can learn more from what people DON’T say. JT is a criminal defense attorney and he did not say a salient point in this matter. That being, a judge can question a witness. I am not excusing this, it’s wrong and needs sanctions. But, it is not warranting criminal charges and the 2 years in prison is an idiotic suggestion.

  7. Seems to fly in the face of due process, that’s for sure. However, the details of the prosecution and the text matter. We do not have those details. Also as somebody suggested, judges feel free to question witnesses more themselves, directly in open court. The reluctance to do so is more custom than law. Then again, the sneakiness here is a bad factor against the judge, and indicates bias and a belief that what she was doing was improper.

  8. I know it is not often done, but doesn’t the judge in a case have the ability to ask questions of witnesses themselves? Why did the judge not do so rather than texting the prosecutor to ask the questions?

  9. I think that the doctrine of estoppel should be given full reign here. The State should be estopped from prosecuting the person again. The prosecutor should be stopped from appearing in court again. The Judge should have a stopper in her email system. The email system needs to be shopped for other felonious emails.

  10. mickey – I’m happy and blessed. Your reply makes you seem angry at something or someone. What’s up with that? You a supporter of HRC?

  11. Those in places of public trust should receive enhanced sentences when they soil themselves and the office, a minimum of two years in jail.

  12. What these two did was obscene. They both should be charged criminally. As should the trial prosecutor for acting on those communications and not reporting the improper acts of the judge.

    And by the way “Harry’ you are sick and need to get a life!

  13. Did Coker and Jones text any email for help from Hillary to unsecure email server? Hillary is a crafty lawyer with amicable fix.
    Gets Coker and Jones out of jam “if” generous donations (love offerings) were made to Clinton Foundation. Define what “if” means.

  14. so the duty to report doesn’t include the duty to convict?….that’ll come to a surprise of all on the receiving end. I thot any ole allegation was all it took for judge jury and executioner……they need more?

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