On July 30, Christopher Dupuy was scheduled to stand before a state district judge to show cause why he shouldn't be held in contempt for violating the court's gag order for allegedly commenting publically about his removal proceedings from Galveston County's County Court-at-Law No. 3.
Yet the day before that proceeding was scheduled to occur, Houston's 1st Court of Appeals granted an emergency motion filed by Dupuy that stays the contempt proceeding.
Earlier this year, Dupuy was indicted by a Galveston County grand jury on two felony and seven misdemeanor criminal charges related to actions he allegedly took on the bench, many of them related to disputes he had with family lawyers who appeared before him. After Dupuy was indicted, the State Commission on Judicial Conduct suspended him from the bench without pay. The Texas Attorney General's Office has also filed a civil petition in state district court seeking Dupuy's removal from office. [See "Judge Christopher Dupuy Indicted, Removal Petition Filed" Texas Lawyer, May 27, 2013, page 1.]
Dupuy has denied the allegations in both the criminal and civil proceedings against him.
On June 13, Robert J. Kern, a visiting judge who is presiding over the civil removal proceedings, signed an order preventing the parties or their attorneys "from disseminating information concerning the case to any reporter, newspaper, magazine, television station, radio station, other news media, or the internet."
On June 20, Kern also denied Dupuy's motion to dismiss the removal petition in which Dupuy alleged that Chapter 87 of the Government Code does not allow for the removal of statutory county court-at-law judges. While the statute lists 13 county-level offices that are subject to the removal statute, Dupuy alleged that his office is "exempt" from the statute.
And on July 5, the AG's office filed a motion before Kern requesting that he enforce the gag order and place Dupuy in jail for at least six months and pay at minimum a $500 fine for allegedly commenting about the case on Facebook between June 30, 2013 and July 2, 2013.
Then on July 29, Dupuy filed an accelerated writ of mandamus with the 1st Court alleging the removal statute does not apply to his bench. In that motion, Dupuy also asked for an emergency stay of the contempt matter, alleging Kern lacked jurisdiction to enter a gag order in the proceeding because he made that call "without any motion, hearing, notice or evidence" among other things.
The 1st Court granted Dupuy's writ of mandamus on July 30th. The order stays the mandamus proceeding and requests further briefing from the parties on "(1) the trial court's jurisdiction over the underlying civil removal suit, (2) real party in interest's authority to bring and prosecute the underlying civil removal suit, and (3) the propriety of the order prohibiting media contact."
Dupuy, who is representing himself before the 1st Court, says he hopes the appellate court will dismiss the contempt motion and the removal petition pending against him.
"I think the gag order is unenforceable. And on its face it allows the parties to discuss their filings and their settings, just not to share their opinion. Tell me what's the difference?" Dupuy says. "I think the whole case is ridiculous and we're one day closer to having it thrown out."
Kent Richardson, an assistant Texas attorney general who filed the contempt motion against Dupuy and is representing the state in the case, did not immediately return a call for comment.