For a second time, Judge Rick Davis will face formal proceedings for alleged wrongdoings. The 272nd District Court judge will face a public trial, with his judicial career on the line.
Back in 2002, the judge was given a public reprimand for making personal attacks against District Attorney Bill Turner and then-prosecutor Laura Cass.
But one of two charges levied against Davis in this second set of formal procedures concerns Turner, Cass, and Davis' now-infamous website, "The Texas Inquisition."
According to documents filed Wednesday afternoon, while the website said it was for the purpose of calling for changes in the judicial disciplinary system, the overwhelming majority of the content was both old and new attacks against Turner and Cass, as well as other judges.
The notice of formal proceedings references, "a 49-page manifesto from [Davis] renewing his previous attacks on Turner and Cass, as well as asserting new claims that the Commission members, Commission staff, and the justices on the Special Court of Review, were 'racists' and had engaged in 'intellectual dishonesty' in the proceedings leading up to the Public Reprimand."
Davis was later recused from presiding over cases involving Turner and Cass after both questioned Davis' ability to fairly decide those cases.
Some time later, Judge Davis would ask for and receive a court of inquiry against Assistant District Attorney Shane Phelps, saying Phelps had abused his power and affected a grand jury's decision. That grand jury was investigating Turner and alleged illegal campaign contributions.
Phelps ran against Davis in the 2004 election for the 272nd District Court seat.
The second charge revolves around Davis extending that grand jury, knowing what they were investigating, and who was providing information to them.
The commission report states that Davis' political supporter, local attorney Patrick Meece, had been supplying information to the grand jury. Meece had opposed Turner for the district attorney's position in 2004. In court proceedings later, Meece would admit to "dumpster diving" for documents to implicate Turner in a cover-up of illegal campaign contributions, a charge Turner was later cleared of.
The notice of formal proceedings states Davis, "had personal knowledge that Meece had met with the grand jury foreperson [Amanda Short] and delivered a packet of evidence against Turner and Phelps. [Davis] himself had possession of the same packet of information in early August 2005.
"Despite this knowledge," it continues, "or because of it, [Davis] privately communicated with the grand jury foreperson on two occasions about extending the grand jury term. Those communications were kept a secret from the grand jury's legal council, the Brazos County District Attorney's office, and from the Brazos County District Clerk's office, for more than two months, preventing both those offices from being able to perform their official duties."
The document goes on to address Davis' refusal to recuse himself from the grand jury when the DA's office filed a motion to recuse. "Such a failure to act," it reads, "demonstrated a willingness to allow Meece to use [Davis'] judcial office to promote the personal and political agendas of both Meece and [Davis]."
In a court of inquiry asked for by Davis against Phelps, the assistant DA was cleared of wrongdoing.
The commission on judicial conduct will likely hear this case sometime in the next six months to a year. They could drop the charges, sanction Davis as he was last time, or the Supreme Court could be petitioned to hear the case.
The Supreme Court then has the option of punishing Davis, including the possibility of removing him from the bench.
Judge Davis will continue with his normal duties in the meantime.
The DA's office chose not to comment, and Judge Davis has not returned calls.
The following are the laws Judge Davis may have broken according to the notice of formal proceedings filed Wednesday:
-Article 5, 1-a(6)A of the Texas Constitution provides, in relevant part, that any judge may be removed from office, disciplined, or censured for "willful or persistent violation of the rules promulgated by the Supreme Court of Texas, ... willful violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct, or willful or persistent conduct that is clearly inconsistent with the proper performance of his duties or casts public discredit upon the judiciary or administration of justice."
-Section 33.001(b) of the Texas Government Code defines "willful or persistent conduct that is clearly inconsistent with the proper performance of a judge's duties" as including, among other things: "[a] willful violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct; or persistent or willful violation of the rules promulgated by the supreme court."
-Canon 2A of the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct provides that "[a] judge shall comply with the law and should act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary."
-Canon 2B of the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct provides, in relevant part, that "[a] judge shall not allow any relationship to influence judicial conduct or judgment. A judge shall not lend the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of the judge or others; nor shall a judge convey or permit others to convey the impression that they are in a special position to influence the judge..."
-Canon 3B(1) of the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct provides that "[a] judge shall hear and decide matters assigned to the judge except those in which disqualification is required or recusal is appropriate."
-Canon 3B(5) of the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct provides that "[a] judge shall perform judicial duties without bias or prejudice."
-Canon 4A(1) of the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct provides, in relevant part, that "[a] judge shall conduct all of the judge's extra-judicial activities so that they do not cast reasonable doubt on the judge's capacity to act impartially as a judge."
-Canon 4A(2) of the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct provides, in the relevant part, that "...[a] judge shall conduct all the judge's extra-judicial activities so that they do not...interfere with the proper performance of judicial duties."
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