Galveston DA Investigates Dupuy for Criminal Complaint
Dupuy Continues Bizarre Hearing
Posted: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 12:08 am
By Chris Paschenko
GALVESTON — Judge Christopher Dupuy voluntarily removed himself Tuesday from hearing an attorney’s family law case but not before finding the attorney in contempt for statements in her recusal motion.
Dupuy’s orders and rulings came amid a series of Monday and Tuesday hearings that attorneys characterized as bizarre.
The Galveston County District Attorney’s Office is investigating to learn if testimony in one of those hearings is connected with its criminal investigation on whether Dupuy abused his official capacity, Criminal District Attorney Jack Roady said.
On Tuesday, Dupuy held attorney Lori Laird in contempt and has recommended that an administrative court judge sentence her to 110 days in jail and fine her $250 for each of apparently 14 counts of contempt. The sentences should run concurrently, Dupuy stated in his Tuesday order.
Laird wasn’t arrested but was released on a personal bond as required by statute.
The contempt order came after a hearing in which Dupuy read allegations against Laird. Dupuy gave Laird’s defense attorneys opportunities to defend, explain or apologize for her statements, which Dupuy characterized as unprofessional pleadings that tended to disrespect authority and impede, embarrass or obstruct the court and its personnel.
With no prosecutor participating in the hearings, Laird’s attorneys, Tad Nelson, Cynthia Tracy and Greg Hughes, repeatedly responded that they would explain if they were presented with evidence against Laird.
Dupuy told the attorneys the evidence was Laird’s recusal motion, and he told the attorneys he wasn’t there to answer their questions. There were no witnesses to cross-examine. The attorneys complained Dupuy denied Laird due process of law.
“He has as much authority on what he’s doing as to show up at my house and tell me who’s going to cut the turkey,” Nelson said after the hearings. “We’re literally in bizarro world. There isn’t an explanation for it. Nobody has a good answer because there isn’t one. It’s the most mind-boggling thing.”
When asked to comment on the matter, Dupuy referred The Daily News to court documents on his orders and the applicable law.
“As with any other litigant, Ms. Laird was certainly afforded due process,” Dupuy said. “Through her counsels, Ms. Laird exercised her right to remain silent, so as not to further incriminate herself at the show-cause hearings.”
Dupuy declined to say what statute authorized his order, which states it is settled law that contemptuous statements and conduct in any form, including by way of motion, are punishable by criminal contempt.
“Indeed, no party or attorney is allowed a poetic license to take potshots at the judiciary or any trial judge in a motion to recuse on the theory that the trial court would lose jurisdiction to punish their bad behavior,” Dupuy stated in his contempt order.
Dupuy also cites “The Texas Lawyer’s Creed — A Mandate for Professionalism,” which he says the Supreme Court of Texas adopted 15 years ago. The provisions serve as a reminder and guideline for the profession, Dupuy wrote.
In a separate recusal hearing on Tuesday, Nelson said an administrative judge removed him and other attorneys and sealed the courtroom.
Attorney Greg Enos said the hearing involved a custody dispute between the judge’s fiancee and a man Enos said he is representing.
Last month, Enos sent a complaint letter to Roady’s office, claiming Dupuy possibly abused his official capacity. Enos claimed in the letter he had circumstantial evidence that Dupuy used county equipment or software to provide legal assistance to a woman he was dating. Dupuy might have used county equipment to help her in a family law matter, which would be a violation of the state’s penal code related to abuse of official capacity, Enos said.
Enos claimed in the complaint that his office received a faxed document on the custody case that listed Dupuy’s name and that could have come from the courthouse.
The judge’s fiancee testified Tuesday about who sent the fax and from where the fax was sent, Enos said. The testimony came from a hearing in which she sought to recuse a district court judge from the custody case, Enos said.
Dupuy, who was elected judge of County Court of Law No. 3 in a 2010 Republican landslide, denied the allegations.
Dupuy said Tuesday he couldn’t comment on testimony from a sealed custody matter. Enos’ allegations are founded upon politics and misconstrued information and are simply unfounded, Dupuy said.
A message emailed to an address believed to belong to the judge’s fiancee seeking comment wasn’t immediately returned.
Enos said a judge sealed the file, but law enforcement, the state bar and a state judicial ethics committee could view the case documents. Enos said he requested transcripts of the recusal hearing and notified the district attorney’s office.
Roady said his office didn’t participate in the custody hearing. Roady also said his office was looking into reports there was testimony related to the office’s ongoing investigation of Dupuy in connection with Enos’ complaint.
Contact reporter Chris Paschenko at 409-683-5241 or firstname.lastname@example.org.