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Pill-popping liberal judge suspended for drug abuse and sexting with bailiff

July 17, 2017

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The Texas Supreme Court on Friday issued an order to suspend Harris County Justice of the Peace Hilary Green from office immediately based on allegations that she illegally abused prescription drugs, sent sexually explicit texts to a bailiff while on the bench and paid for sex.

The state supreme court had been asked to take the unusual emergency action by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, which in May presented a 316-page document in support of an immediate suspension. That document summarized evidence it had collected in its own investigations of previously secret complaints made against Green from 2012 to 2015.

It’s the first time any Texas judge has received a temporary suspension in at least a decade in a contested matter, the commission says.

The commission alleged that in its own closed proceedings, Green already had admitted to many allegations against her, including illegally obtaining prescription drugs and using marijuana and Ecstasy while she was presiding over low-level drug possession cases involving juveniles in her south Houston courtroom. As a justice of the peace for Harris County Precinct 7, Place 1, Green handles thousands of low-level criminal and civil matters a year, including traffic tickets and evictions.

In its one-page ruling, the supreme court agreed with the judicial conduct commission that the evidence, including Green’s own admissions, justified her immediate removal as the state watchdog agency prepares for a longer civil trial that’s required under Texas law to remove any elected judge from office.

Related: Complaints allege Justice of the Peace abused drugs, lied and paid for sex

Commission lawyers also argued in court filings that there are ample grounds to conclude that Green brought discredit upon the judiciary and should permanently be removed from office, including evidence that she used “her assigned bailiff in an effort to illegally obtain prescription drugs.”

She’s also been accused of lying about allegations that she abused her authority in eviction matters to favor a friend — a con man and five-time felon.

In her own filings to the state’s highest court, Green complained that the commission practiced “assembly line justice” and treated her unfairly. She maintained she had stopped abusing prescription cough syrup about three years ago, and had provided evidence of having passed several recent drug-screening tests.

Green’s attorney, Chip Babcock, argued against suspension, noting that voters had a chance to review and “forgive” misbehavior outlined in the commission’s allegations, some of which were published in newspaper stories, before they opted last year to re-elect Green, a former trial attorney who first took office in 2007. She was previously elected in 2008 and 2012.

Related: Divorce turns ugly for Ronald Green and Hilary Harmon Green 

But commission lawyers countered that Green had made behind-the-scenes efforts to ensure the “public has no right to see the very best evidence of the worst of her conduct — the excerpted text messages on file under seal (with the Supreme court) that show her illegal and inappropriate conduct in striking detail.”

Green also has sought to discredit complaints based on information provided by her ex-husband and by a former extramarital lover.

Some of the evidence used against Green first surfaced in a contentious divorce filing by her ex-husband, Ronald Green, a former city councilman and ex-controller. A Chronicle story about allegations made in the divorce is the basis of one of the judicial misconduct complaints from 2015.

Another source of complaints against Green was Claude Barnes, a former boyfriend who Green accused in her supreme court filing of threatening to destroy her after their break-up.

Barnes provided details of Green’s alleged drug abuse, detailing where and when she allegedly obtained and used prescription drugs and illegal drugs. He also has alleged that he and Green paid call girls for three-way sex, including on one occasion when Green was out of town attending a judicial conference.

Related: Ethics issues arise in rulings by justice of the peace 

In 2012, the commission received complaints alleging that Green unethically ruled in eviction matters to help a five-time convicted felon. Green lied about her relationship with that ex-neighbor, a contractor who also renovated Green’s home, in responses she provided under oath to the commission, according to the agency’s supreme court filings.

The commission’s next move will be to prepare for a trial to remove Green permanently from office. Under Texas law, another judge will be appointed to hear that case and ultimately will make findings of fact and conclusions of law on whether Green should be formally removed from office.

Babcock said Friday he learned of the high court’s suspension order from the Chronicle and was surprised that there was no discussion in the order of any of the legal arguments he’d made on Green’s behalf.

“The Supreme Court’s order is very disappointing and it is surprising that on the face of the order it does not appear that they considered Judge Green’s response to the request for temporary suspension,” he said. “We are still looking into that issue and will determine what steps Judge Green takes when we have concluded our investigation.”

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From → World Watch

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