18:12, July 11 230 0 abajournal.com

2017-07-11 18:12:04
Lawyer says judge’s Facebook comment about being ‘tortured’ by trial lawyer was just a joke

A Texas judge who wrote on Facebook that she was being “tortured” by a lawyer at trial was just joking, according to a lawyer’s statement.

The statement by Judge Nancy Hohengarten of Travis County raised some eyebrows among Austin criminal defense lawyers, the Austin American-Statesman reports.

Hohengarten had commented in response to a friend of the judge—who doesn’t practice law—who said he was home with a cold. Hohengarten said she was also sick, but had gone to work.

Hohengarten wrote: “I’ve had the worst cold but instead of staying home I’m being tortured by an attorney in a trial. So, I’m actually jealous of you!”

The issue was placed on the agenda for the monthly meeting of the Austin Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, according to the article. The association president said lawyers want to get a transcript of the drunken driving trial Hohengarten was hearing at the time of the comment. The lawyers will look at the transcript before deciding whether to file a grievance.

In a statement released on behalf of the judge, lawyer Brian Roark said Hohengarten’s comment was intended to make a sick friend feel better. Hohengarten didn’t name the lawyer, and she wrote the comment during a trial break, Roark said. Hohengarten “did not have any bad feelings towards the lawyers who appeared in her court that day. The comment should be viewed as it was intended, which was merely as a joke,” Roark said.

Lawyer Skip Davis’ drunken driving client was on trial before Hohengarten when she made the comment. Jurors later found his client guilty. He didn’t think Hohengarten’s comment was funny.

“Her decision to make that post during trial is eye-popping,” Davis said in a statement published by the American-Statesman. “It’s disrespectful, it’s unprofessional and to top it all off, it’s unethical. It violated my client’s constitutional rights to a fair trial before a fair and impartial judge.”