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Do Judges Ever Get Into Trouble?

In an earlier post, I detailed an example of a lawyer who got herself into some trouble in an incident involving alcohol, police, and a whole bunch of negative publicity. That fiasco was the result of a series of poor decisions regarding her personal life that unfortunately affected her professional career. But certainly any attorney—or even a judge, for that matter—would never allow a lapse of professional conduct in the courtroom to jeopardize his or her career, right?

Prosecutors, district attorneys, and judges like to be viewed as “tough on crime.” In the case of judges, that’s how many of them get elected to their positions. Although many are objective, fair, and just in their rulings, there are some who secretly challenge the “innocent until proven guilty” paradigm of criminal proceedings. An unfortunate few officials have convinced themselves that anyone who stands before their bench must somehow be guilty; the question is, “how guilty?

Texas judge Elizabeth E. Coker recently agreed to resign from her position in lieu of disciplinary action. She was allegedly caught texting instructions from the bench to the district attorney about how to best proceed in prosecuting a case in her own courtroom. The text messages Coker supposedly sent suggested questions that the prosecutor may want to ask during the trial, how to get a witness taking the stand to refresh his memory, and the discussion of legal issues pertinent to the case. All these messages were sent in a sneaky attempt at getting a guilty verdict against the defendant.

When Coker realized she was being investigated by the Judicial Commission, she reportedly discussed this investigation with a material witness, before this witness had testified to the Commission about Coker’s involvement!

“…I have not admitted guilty, fault, or liability in my voluntary resignation,” Coker said in a public statement afterward. She went on to say how fighting the allegations would not be “in the best interests of the taxpayers, our court system, my family or myself.”

While Coker’s voluntary resignation may prevent her from being disciplined by the Judicial Commission, it leaves several questions unanswered about the impartiality of certain judges, and how many other situations like these may be happening in courts around the nation that have not yet been discovered.

If you or a loved one are charged with a crime, contact Orange County criminal attorney Staycie R. Sena immediately at (949) 477-8088 for a free consultation.