Former Dallas Court of Appeals Justice David Lewis. Courtesy photo

David Lewis, a former justice on Dallas’ Fifth Court of Appeals who battled alcoholism and resigned from the bench last year after his colleagues concluded he’d become too mentally impaired to continue his duties, was found dead in his home by police.

University Park police found Lewis’ body on June 14 after they entered his townhouse to inquire about his welfare after friends hadn’t heard from him in days.

“We did not see anything suspicious to lead us to believe his death was anything other than from natural causes,” said University Park police public information officer Lita Snellgrove. The Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office has not yet determined Lewis’ cause of death.

Lewis was elected to the Fifth Court in 2012. In 2015, he agreed to a six-month voluntary suspension to receive treatment for alcoholism after Fifth Court Chief Justice Carolyn Wright complained to the State Commission on Judicial Conduct that Lewis was not capable of performing his duties.

Lewis voluntarily resigned last year after the Judicial Conduct Commission filed removal proceedings against him. A complaint filed against Lewis alleged he’d become too impaired to comprehend legal issues and his erratic behavior and abusive treatment of court staff contributed to a hostile and unsafe work environment.

Lewis underwent a physical and mental health evaluation conducted by Dr. Dennis Dalton, according to Judicial Conduct Commission’s removal notice. Dalton concluded that Lewis had cognitive problems beginning as early as 2013 and that the justice experienced intense feelings of anger the following year.

In January, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott appointed Jason Boatright, a lawyer who once served as chief of the opinion division during Abbott’s tenure as Texas attorney general, to replace Lewis.

Before taking the bench, Lewis served as a federal prosecutor and later worked as a special prosecutor on Dallas’ so-called fake drug scandal in which police knowingly arrested immigrants for possessing phony planted drugs. He was also a member of Dallas’ William “Mac” Taylor American Inn of Court.

“He was an active member and valued member before his demons took him,” said Chad Ruback, a Dallas appellate attorney who knew Lewis from Inn of Court meetings.

“He seemed like a bright man, like an honest man, like a hard-working man and it’s so sad to learn how his life changed over the last few years,” Ruback said.