It probably went something like this: “Don’t worry, honey. I’ll call my friend the Judge. You’ll be out in no time.” Or not, though the call was made to the Honorable James (“Jim”) Patrick Sharp, Jr., Justice on the First Court of Appeals in Houston, Harris County, Texas. Here’s what happened, from the State Commission on Judicial Conduct’s Findings of Fact:
On January 17, 2012, at approximately 8:00 p.m., Justice Sharp received a telephone call from a family friend informing him that her 15-year-old daughter had been arrested for shoplifting at a department store in Brazoria County.
The friend informed Justice Sharp that her daughter had been taken to the Brazoria County Juvenile Detention Center (hereinafter “Juvenile Detention”). She further informed Justice Sharp that Juvenile Detention staff had advised her that pursuant to standard policy, her daughter would not be released until the following morning.
The friend asked Justice Sharp for assistance in securing her daughter’s early release from Juvenile Detention so that she would not be required to spend the night at the facility.
So what did the Judge do? Plenty.
During all of the calls, Justice Sharp identified himself as a Justice of the First Court of Appeals; he stated that he was calling on behalf of his friend’s daughter (hereinafter the “juvenile”); and he sought information on how to secure the juvenile’s early release from Juvenile Detention.
During all of the calls, Justice Sharp was advised that Brazoria County had a policy that required the juvenile to remain in Juvenile Detention until the following morning, at which time a judge would magistrate her and/or review her case.
Not satisfied with the response he had been given, Justice Sharp repeatedly and persistently asked Juvenile Detention staff what could be done to secure the juvenile’s early release, and offered to drive to the facility to magistrate and/or “sign orders to release” the juvenile that night.
During his conversation with the Assistant Director, Justice Sharp referred to the possibility of Brazoria County being sued for failing to release the juvenile that night, stating: “[Y]our county is going to be sued for hundreds of thousands of dollars for this. You’ll have picked the wrong little girl that has friends in high places to mess with.”
Justice Sharp also stated to the Assistant Director, “Well, I can tell you this, things are about to change in Brazoria County. You guys are a bunch of back woods hillbillies that use screwed up methods in dealing with children and I can promise you this, things are about to change in Brazoria County.”
Charming. Moving right along …
At approximately 10:00 p.m. that night, Justice Sharp telephoned a local District Judge and left a voicemail message advising the judge that a friend’s daughter was being detained in Juvenile Detention, and that he hoped the judge would “make a call” to release her.
Justice Sharp also sent a text message to the District Judge asking if he would call Juvenile Detention to help “get [the juvenile] released tonight.”
At approximately 10:30 p.m. that night, Justice Sharp telephoned a Brazoria County Commissioner and left a voicemail message identifying himself as “Justice Jim Sharp in Houston,” and advising the Commissioner that his friend’s daughter had been arrested for shoplifting and was being held in Juvenile Detention.
In his voicemail message, Justice Sharp asked the Commissioner, “What can we do to get that girl out tonight?” Justice Sharp further expressed his opinion there was “no sense” in having the juvenile spend the night in jail, and that, “I need your help. You will probably know who to call to make the keys go open.”
At approximately 11:47 p.m. that night, Justice Sharp sent a text message to the Commissioner, stating as follows: “If I were Brazoria Co. commissioner, I’d be on [the] look out for some serious lawsuits arising from your juvie [sic] facilities. . . You don’t release 15 yrs olds accused of simple shoplifting (bra and jeans) to their parents on the request of an Appeals Ct Justice? Serious problems there, Dude. Call me pronto, please. Justice Jim Sharp.”
Props for being such a good friend?
In voicemail and text messages to the District Judge and the County Commissioner, Justice Sharp made the following statements concerning a Juvenile Detention officer, who Justice Sharp accused of being “rude” to him:
a. The officer was the “most arrogant little prick [he] had ever talked to in [his] life,” and that if he had met with the officer “in person,” the officer would have known that he “had visited.”
b. If he had spoken to the officer “in person,” and if Justice Sharp had been in possession of a “baseball bat . . . that son of a bitch would have been cracked upside the head. Fucking little cocksucker.”
c. “Brazoria County Juvie Folks are [not] just arrogant but ignorant. When an Appeals Court Justice calls and identifies himself and then they refer to me as ‘Mr.’ Sharp, it bespeaks a fundamental misunderstanding of respect and pecking order!”
d. “[S]ome county paycheck functionary . . . call[ing] me ‘rude’ also is totally unacceptable and that stupid asshole need find [a] new job that never has him communicating with appellate court justices. Had I been there personally, it would have been damn ugly for him.”
During this same night, Justice Sharp unsuccessfully attempted to contact a former State Representative, a senior district court judge, and a local criminal defense attorney, all in an effort to secure the juvenile’s early release from Juvenile Detention.
Shazam! Like The Juice said, the Judge was fortunate to only receive a public reprimand. You’ll find the full document here.