The Texas Bar Association has issued a public reprimand to state district Judge Kaycee Jones for her role in clandestine texting during a criminal trial while she was a prosecutor and before her election to the bench last year.
Jones, who oversees the 411th court in Polk, Trinity and San Jacinto counties, signed the agreed judgement citing her for “professional misconduct” just before she came in front of the bar’s grievance panel for a hearing this month.
Jones, 39, was an assistant Polk County prosecutor for 11 years before becoming a judge in 2013. She could not be reached for comment.
However, in a letter to the bar’s disciplinary counsel several months ago, Jones confessed to being an accomplice in a texting incident that she stated she knew was wrong, writing: “I deeply regret that I acted in this manner.”
The agreed judgment documented how Jones had received text messages from state district Judge Elizabeth Coker, while she was seated on the bench during a trial in a child injury case.
Jones, then an assistant prosecutor and observer during the trial, wrote down the message that suggested a line of questioning to bolster the prosecution’s case and relayed it to the lead prosecutor.
However, several whistle blowers in the investigation, including attorneys Cecil Berg and Richard Burroughs, said the state bar was far too lenient on Jones.
“I’m totally stunned and in disbelief,” said Burroughs of Cleveland. “I served on the state bar’s grievance committee for eight years and would have expected Jones to be suspended or disbarred when she has confessed to violating someone’s civil rights.”
He said Jones has since refused to recuse herself from overseeing his cases that come into her court and feels she is retaliating against him.
He and Berg wanted the state bar to expand its investigation to include multiple other “ex parte” texts between Jones and Coker involving other defendants which were given to the state judicial commission for review.
“We want to find a way to have the bar association look at them still,” Burroughs said.
See here and here for the background. I suppose the State Commission on Judicial Conduct can weigh in as well, since Jones is now a judge, but since all they did with her partner in crime Coker was make her resign, I don’t expect much. I still think a suspension of one year is the bare acceptable minimum punishment for what these two unethical idiots did, and disbarment would not have been too harsh. Why bother to behave if there are no consequences for breaking the rules? Grits has more.