Texas Judge Sanctioned After Keeping His Own Divorce On His Docket

gavel2383rd District Judge Mike Herrera apparently sees nothing wrong in his action that led to a sanctioning by the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct. Herrera kept his own divorce case on his docket for months but insists that it “made no difference” that the case was before him even though he was one of the litigants. In reality, there may have not been any action taken but Herrera’s utter failure to see the conflict (and appearance) issues is rather shocking. The case itself shows a real mess in representation and conflicting accounts.

Herrera filed for divorce on June 6, 2012 and the case was randomly assigned to his court. He said that he was still trying to work things out with this wife, Melissa Carrasco. He said that they had emails trying to avoid litigation. However, on July 16, 2012, a lawyer representing Carrasco, Angelica Carreon-Beltran, filed a counterpetition for divorce. Herrera insists that Carreon-Beltran is a political enemy of his who improperly solicited his ex-wife as a client to retaliated against him. However, Carreon-Beltran insists that she is a long-time friends of Carrasco. She added that Carrasco told her that no one in the town would represent her because of her husband’s position. She also said that the wife said that she was being “railroaded.”

So Herrera kept control of his own case while trying to get his wife to do what he recommended for the divorce. That would seem more serious than just a reprimand-worthy offense.

In issuing a reprimand, the Commission found that Herrera “failed to comply with the law, demonstrated a lack of professional competence in the law, and engaged in willful and persistent conduct that was clearly inconsistent with the proper performance of his judicial duties.” Yet, Herrera insisted that “The fact that it was in this court made no difference. It stayed there. I wasn’t actively doing anything. Me and my former spouse were working on everything. She and I were working on everything carefully.”

While he admitted that it may have been “poor judgment” he concluded to insist “at that time there was no issue, there was no rush. There was nothing.”

What is particularly bizarre, Carreon-Beltran filed a motion for discovery on Sept. 11, 2012. Herrera let the deadline to respond pass. That created the need to file a motion to compel to a judge who was the subject of the motion. Herrara insists that the case had been transferred before the deadline passed. However, the commission said that on Sept. 27, 2012, Regional Presiding Judge Stephen Ables requested that the case be transferred, but an order doing so wasn’t signed until Oct. 17, 2012. Herrera insisted that the request date should be controlling in reviewing his conduct. However, the Commission noted that “[d]uring his testimony before the commission, Judge Herrera acknowledged that, technically, he had petitioned himself for relief when he filed the motions; however, he believed he had done nothing inappropriate since he never ruled on the motions.”

Now it gets even weirder. Carrasco ended up signing a final divorce decree without the knowledge of Carreon-Beltran. Herrera then produced an affidavit from June 14, 2013 that said “I reject (Carreon-Beltran’s) statements that I was intimidated, that I was coerced, that I was threatened . . . That is why I am making the declaration that Angelica Carreon is no longer my attorney.”

Herrera is a Democrat who does not stand for reelection until November 2016.

However, while he has a reprimand, he has no opponent heading into election.

Source: El Paso Times

16 thoughts on “Texas Judge Sanctioned After Keeping His Own Divorce On His Docket”

  1. If he didn’t “technically” do anything wrong….how did he get in trouble? Was the case marked ” my divorce case”….cuz if it wasn’t marked…..

  2. The judge would be well qualified to be the next NFL Commissioner (ex: Roger Goodell’s “double-secret probation” without evidence against Patriot’s quarterback Tom Brady).

    Kangaroo courts are in heavy demand for “referees” like this:)

  3. Part of the organized resistance to Trump is the legal profession. They are in for a rough ride if Trump is elected Prez.

  4. I had a habeas action (for production of the child) filed in NY supreme court; there are 9 justices on that court.
    The case gets assigned to my current family court judge who pitch hits as an acting NYSCt judge.
    I know it is supposed to be randomly selected, but I am sure there was nothing random about this.
    He promptly dismissed the action.
    I am sure this was a conflict of interest.

  5. Paul

    An occasional tray of donuts or bagels, given to clerks, aren’t bribes or tips. They’re merely an expression gratitude, for an often thankless job, where the basic niceties are often forgotten. People enjoy feeling appreciated.

    1. bam bam – although I would agree with you, Dunkin’ Donuts offered a free cup of coffee to anyone who came in with their I Voted sticker and was told it was buying voters. They backed down. You cannot take a city, county or state official out to lunch and pick up the tab. There are tough limits on what you can give people.

  6. I spent a couple of years as a legal runner and process server in Maricopa County. The runners pick-up from a route and end up at the courthouse. The had 3 clerks assigned to the runners because we could hold up the line for 30-60 minutes. We had the fastest clerks they had. However, we were not allowed to tip or bribe them. 😉

    BTW, the judge should be disbarred.

  7. Squeeky

    It’s astounding what a simple display of respect and gratitude–please, thank you, I appreciate your assistance, etc.–accomplishes when dealing with these clerks. Unfortunately, many attorneys don’t seem to get that, and, as a result, their clients will suffer, in various ways, due to the boorish behavior of their uncouth and uncivilized representatives. Like it or not, these clerks run the place. An occasional and unexpected gift, containing a supply of fresh bagels, including various accompanying tubs of shmears, for the entire office staff, doesn’t hurt, as well.

  8. You couldn’t make this shit up. Neither wonder America is in the state it is. If an immigrant can’t run for president why do sons of immigrants battle for the position every 4 years? Surely the presidency should be fought by the few remaining indigenous people? You wonder why America has been a huge joke for the last 40 odd years? Gerald Ford should have allowed tricky to be tried for his crimes following Watergate, the fact that he didn’t showed Americans that some people were above the law. This harks back to the dark days of the founding of a nation on the backs of slaves and slaughtering natives, who were all treated as second class citizens and not worthy of protection under the law.

  9. @Bams

    You are 100% right about the clerks! You would be surprised what being good friends with a court clerk can do for you! Or maybe not. Why, a person can even get . . . . ooops. Tick a lock!

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  10. The case was “randomly” assigned to his court? You mean that the court clerks weren’t sufficiently familiar with the judge and his particular division to have enough sense and knowledge to assign his, personal divorce matter to a different judge? Puh-leez. These courthouses are well-known as massive rumor mills, where the slightest whiff of scandal or divorce, especially involving local celebrity figures, attorneys and, especially in-house judges, spreads like wildfire. I can guarantee that the ink wasn’t even dry on the judge’s original filing when news, regarding the judge’s marital discord and pending divorce, spread, amongst the chatty-kathys, who routinely park their rotund bottoms in these various court offices and act as court clerks. Aside from the issue regarding the obvious improprieties with which this judge appears to have been involved, the fact that the clerks, who should’ve known better than to assign this case to his courtroom, need to be investigated, as well. Something ain’t right, I tell ya. I have no doubt that they did, precisely, as they were directed.

  11. Another example of the legal system not respecting or willingly adhereing to society’s laws. Then people wonder why the youth and the ecomically disadvantaged do not have respect for authority in the USA.

  12. The Court of Appeals or Supreme Court has supervisory authority. They should vacate all orders entered. They should open an inquiry outside of the divorce proceeding. The wife or ex wife should be deposed by the State Judiciary and asked questions. The judge should be deposed. deposed means questioned by an attorney with atty for the judge present to object, the judge is under oath.
    The questioning at the deposition should be in English.

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