So maybe you’re sitting up above the rest of the folks in the courtroom. But this stuff? Uh-uh. Nope. Fuhgeddaboutit. It’s totally unacceptable. As reported by The Houston Chronicle:
“It was horrible,” Houston attorney Wesley Clements said about the alleged behavior of District Judge Lonnie Cox. “When he started yelling like that at the top of his lungs, it got my attention.”
The allegations are in a motion filed by Clements asking that Cox remove himself from a plea hearing in the probation violation case of Maricelda Marie Aguilar, 22, of Alvin.
Clements said he was in the process of filing a complaint with the State Commission on Judicial Conduct about Cox’s conduct during the Oct. 5 hearing.
And about that motion to recuse himself from the case?
Cox said he was unable to comment about an ongoing case. He filed an order refusing to recuse himself and referring the recusal decision to the presiding judge for the 2nd Administrative Judicial Region, Montgomery County District Judge Olen Underwood.
So what went down with Judge Cox?
Aguilar, now seven months pregnant, has been in the Galveston County Jail since July for violating her probation on an earlier drug conviction. She learned shortly before her arrest that she was pregnant and while in jail has developed a bacterial infection she fears could harm the fetus, she said in a written statement attached the recusal motion. Clements said she also has a condition that cannot be fully diagnosed until after Aguilar gives birth.
The Galveston County drug court had obtained Cox’s agreement to move Aguilar from the Montgomery County Jail to a drug rehabilitation center until she gave birth, allowing her mother to accompany her for medical treatment when necessary, Clements said.
Probation Department Director Janis Bane said the District Attorney’s Office approved the agreement. “It sounded like a good option and a good use of our resources,” Bane said. Nevertheless, the department will respect the judge’s decision, she said.
Everyone is in agreement. So what’s the problem? Well …
At the hearing, Cox became agitated when he discovered that Aguilar had missed several meetings with her probation officer, according to the recusal motion. “The judge while sitting on the bench in open court looked at the plea papers and then screamed, ‘This is shit. This kind of bullshit is not what the drug court should be doing and it is just costing the taxpayers money,’” the motion states.[expletives reinserted]
Oh. So that’s the “temper” in “judicial temperament.” Now it makes sense!
The judge told Aguilar she was worthless and asked “if she thought he would turn her loose to kill the child,” the motion states. “He told the defendant she was worthless and then told the defendant she was not worth the paper and ink that the plea agreement was written on and proceeded to rip the papers to shreds and throw the papers in the air.
“Then he stormed out of the courtroom.”
True, these are just allegation in a motion, but …
The court reporter was not present during the alleged outburst, Clements said, but there were at least 14 witnesses. Aguilar’s mother was present and her statement was attached to the recusal motion.
That’s a bunch of witnesses. And …
The flare-up is not the first attributed to Cox, attorney Byron Fulk said. Fulk said Cox erupted in anger when he and and an assistant district attorney presented a plea agreement in a similar case.
Like Aguilar, the defendant had violated probation after conviction on a drug charge, Fulk said. “The judge takes the bench, looks at the file and says, ‘I’m not going to do this,’” he said. “Then he pounds his fist on the table and starts screaming at the client.”
When Fulk tried to reason with the judge, he said, Cox “starts yelling at me, ‘Step away from the bar, counselor, step away from the bar.’ ”
Attorneys know that the judge almost always wins these battles. That’s assuming that the attorney has the nerve to even engage in such a battle.
Fulk said he admired Clements for doing what other attorneys feared to do. Fulk, who supported Cox when he ran for office in 2008, said, “It’s what we call in the legal profession, black robe disease,” he said. “In my opinion he’s a bully.”
You’ll find the source, including a photo of the judge, here.