In an unusual move, Galveston County District Attorney Jack Roady says he has referred several complaints against Galveston County Court-at-Law No. 3 Judge Christopher Dupuy to the Texas Attorney General’s office for investigation.
Roady declines to describe the nature of the complaints he’s received. Complaints against Texas state and county level judges are usually handled by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct. Roady declines to say why he forwarded the complaints against Dupuy to the AG’s office.
Dupuy did not return a call for comment. But in an e-mail, Dupuy writes that he believes the complaints against him that Roady forwarded to the AG’s office will be found to be "baseless."
Dupuy, who was elected to the bench two years ago, has been the subject of controversy inside the Galveston County courthouse ― most recently when he disqualified a part-time associate judge from practicing as a family lawyer in his court. That part-time associate judge recently stepped down from the bench. [See "Ethics Advisory Opinion Prompts Associate Judge to Resign" Texas Lawyer, February 18, page 1.]
"My office has received a number of complaints relating to Judge Dupuy," Roady writes in a Feb. 18 press release. "Several weeks ago, I contacted the Attorney General’s Office to assist with investigating these allegations. Judge Dupuy presides over one-third of the thousands of misdemeanor cases prosecuted by my office each year. In light of recent events, our office would have to seek Judge Dupuy’s recusal from hundreds of criminal cases if we were to continue investigating these allegations. Doing so would cost thousands of tax dollars to hire visiting judges to handle Judge Dupuy’s docket in the meantime."
"I’m really not elaborating because the matters have been turned over to the AG," Roady says.
"[A]lthough the story has a good headline, as it pertains to my actions, it simply lacks factual merit," Dupuy writes in his e-mail. "As Mr. Roady’s office has privately confirmed this week, they have complete confidence in this Court and how it is managed, and they recognize that the complaint(s) are politically motivated."
Thomas Kelley, a spokesman for the Texas Attorney General’s office, refers questions about the DA’s investigation referral "to the DA and his statement."
Complaint to SCJC
On Feb. 19, 212th District Court Judge Susan Criss sent an e-mail to numerous Galveston County public officials, including Roady, over "security concerns" related to Dupuy.
"I have been informed of the following: A county court judge requested armed security for the afternoon of judges’s meeting in January from the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office due to concerns that County Court Judge Christopher Dupuy would act in a manner that threatened the safety of the judiciary," Criss alleges in her email.
"Courthouse employees and attorneys are discussing numerous accounts of erratic behavior and mood swings," Criss alleges in e-mail.
"I think what I wrote is self explanatory. These are things that I’m hearing. They are red flags, and we have a responsibility to deal with it," Criss says in an interview. Criss provided a copy of that e-mail to Texas Lawyer.
In response to that e-mail, Dupuy on Feb. 19 filed a formal complaint against Criss with the judicial conduct commission in which he alleges that the e-mail Criss sent to county officials was "slanderous." Dupuy attached a copy of Criss’ e-mail to the judicial conduct commission complaint.
"Judge Criss’s knew her email was slanderous. She knew it was false. And she still knowingly emailed it to members of the Bar and the newspapers anyway. This is NOT unusual behavior at all from her," Dupuy wrote in the complaint. Dupuy provided a copy of the complaint, with the attached email to Texas Lawyer.
"Judge Criss’s intended purpose was to cause misleading news and to blatantly disparage a member of the judiciary," Dupuy wrote in the complaint.
Galveston County Court-at-Law No. 2 Judge Barbara Roberts says she asked for a bailiff to attend that January meeting as a security measure, and her request had nothing to do with Dupuy.
"I asked for it. It’s general security, and it just makes good sense to me," Roberts says. "A bailiff was there outside the hallway, just to give a presence of security. And Judge Dupuy was not even at the meeting.”
"I office next to him, I walk in with him in the parking lot, and we’re real cordial," Roberts says of Dupuy. "I have no real or perceived threat by him."
Criss did not immediately return a call for comment about the judicial conduct complaint Dupuy filed against her.