14:19, May 22 53 0 abajournal.com

2019-05-22 14:19:06
Reprimands upheld for ex-judge accused of groping women, disparaging prosecutors

reprimand sign

A special court of review has upheld two reprimands for a now-former Texas judge accused of groping three women at a party, making disparaging remarks about prosecutors, and making a child custody ruling without a public hearing.

The former judge, Guy Williams of Corpus Christi, received two public reprimands after a de novo trial by the review court, report the Texas Lawyer, the Corpus Christi Caller Times and KRIS TV. Williams had asked the court to review two reprimands he received in December from Texas’ State Commission on Judicial Conduct.

Williams was a judge from 2011 to 2018. He did not run for reelection in November.

One of the reprimands was for the prosecutor comments and for the inappropriate touching at an August 2017 social function, according to the May 17 review court opinion.

A judge attending the event complained that Williams slid his hand from the side of her body to her buttocks during a group photo. The judge reported that Williams “literally grabbed and squeezed my butt,” and when she complained, he smiled and did it again.

Later that evening, Williams texted the judge the group photo and wrote: “Nice body for a 70 year old.”

Two court clerks also complained that Williams touched them inappropriately at the event. Williams had denied any inappropriate touching.

Williams made the remarks about the district attorney’s office in two family violence cases in October 2014 and May 2015, according to the review court. In both matters, Williams complained that the DA’s office moves forward with prosecutions even when the victim wants to drop the case.

“Let me just say for the record that I know the prosecution doesn’t really care what the victim wants,” Williams said in the October 2014 hearing. “The district attorney’s office manipulates and uses victims as to their advantage; that’s my position on the record.”

In the latter case, Williams said the DA “doesn’t really care about your wishes. I have no control over the district attorney’s office.”

The second reprimand was for a verbal order transferring custody of two children to their father. The father had not filed any motions seeking custody, and Williams did not conduct a public hearing before making the decision. Williams vacated the order the next day.

Williams testified that he issued the order to shock the two mothers of the children because he thought the mothers were alienating the children from their father. He acknowledged that he was not aware that a verified pleading was required before he could remove children from custody.

One of three judges on the panel disagreed that ethics regulators had proven misconduct with regard to Williams’ conduct in the child custody case and his comments about prosecutors.

The review court decision means that Williams will not be allowed to serve as a visiting judge. Williams needed at least four months of work as a visiting judge to qualify for retirement benefits, one of his lawyers told the Corpus Christi Caller Times.

Williams is also facing a June trial on misdemeanor charges in an unrelated matter, according to the Corpus Christi Caller Times. He was charged with public intoxication and resisting arrest after the vehicle he was riding in crashed.

Williams’ lawyers told KRIS TV that the result in the ethics case was not what they had expected or were hoping for.

In the custody matter, “We absolutely do not believe that Judge Williams’ ruling violated his judicial canons or the Texas Constitution,” the lawyers said in a statement. The statement noted that a dissenting judge on the panel agreed with their position.

The statement also commented on the reprimand for conduct at the party and the disparaging remarks about prosecutors. The statement said the evidence was insufficient to support the allegations, and “it is troubling that a lesser sanction such as a private reprimand or a public warning was not issued in place of a public reprimand.”