Former Fifth Court of Appeals Justice David Lewis, who resigned from the bench after his colleagues complained he became too mentally impaired to function as a judge, died from chronic alcoholism that was complicated by heart disease and diabetes, according to the Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office.
After friends hadn’t heard from him in days, police in University Park entered Lewis’ townhouse June 14 and discovered his body.
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.