Judge blasts judge: He could ‘hurt or kill someone’
By Harvey Rice | February 19, 2013 | Updated: February 20, 2013 1:48am
GALVESTON – The veil of decorum that normally shrouds the judiciary at the Galveston County Courthouse slipped away again Tuesday as one judge accused another of posing a violent threat.
The email from state District Judge Susan Criss urged county officials to take action to protect others from County Court-at-Law Judge Christopher Dupuy. Criss said Dupuy could “become violent and hurt or kill someone.”
The email to top county and courthouse officials led to an emergency meeting of the sheriff, district attorney and county judge, who were unable to find enough evidence to take action.
“I can’t see where he has threatened anyone, I can’t see where he has made any acts of aggression against anyone, at least at this point,” Sheriff Henry Trochessetsaid.
Criss, however, wrote that Dupuy is a feared presence at the courthouse.
“County employees, family members of county employees, litigants and attorneys are expressing concern to those in authority, such as judges, the sheriff, the district attorney and to me that they are afraid Judge Dupuy will become violent and hurt or kill someone,” Criss wrote in her email, provided to the Houston Chronicle by one of its recipients.
Dupuy responded via email: “Ah, Judge Criss. What a political nutcase and embarrassment. I think that completely sums up her ridiculous statements to you in six words. I wonder what her story would be if she was under oath and subject to perjury?”
Dupuy said he would file an ethics complaint against Criss for making knowingly false statements. Criss could not be reached for comment.
The email prompted District Attorney Jack Roady to call a meeting with Trochesset and County Judge Mark Henry. Roady confirmed that others had expressed concerns similar to those mentioned in Criss’ email.
Criss said in her email that Dupuy had published remarks on Facebook and made statements to his children “about carrying and acquiring firearms, including a rifle and handgun, and concealing them in a zipped pocket in his jacket.”
Dupuy unlocked his personal Facebook page to allow the Chronicle access. The only reference to a weapon was about a gun show in Houston “for my munchkins.”
Criss’ email also said that a judge asked the sheriff’s office for armed security during a meeting of county judges at the courthouse in January because of concerns about Dupuy.
However, County Court-at-Law Judge Barbara Roberts said she had made the security request because all the judges would be in one place and “easy to take out,” not because she feared Dupuy, who did not attend the meeting. “I’m not worried about Judge Dupuy at all,” Roberts said. “I have a very cordial relationship with him.”
Other courthouse regulars feel differently.
Attorney Tad Nelson said he asked the sheriff to appear at a hearing last week because he feared for his safety and that of his client.
“I was nervous about him being in there,” Nelson said. “He scares me.” The sheriff said several other attorneys expressed similar fears.
Trochesset said he searched the judge’s bench for a weapon, finding none, before the trial at Nelson’s request. The sheriff said he agreed to the search because it was a reasonable request, not because he believed the judge was a threat.
Trochesset said he ejected Nelson from the courtroom during the hearing at the judge’s request.
Dupuy has clashed previously with Criss and other judges. Early last year he threatened to have a bailiff yank an attorney out of Criss’ court for a scheduled appearance in his court. Criss retorted by email that attorneys believed Dupuy treated them with disrespect.
‘Family court secrets’
Dupuy in October sent an email titled, “Investigation of Galveston County’s Dirty Little Family Court Secrets,” accusing Family Court Judge Janice Yarbrough of benefiting financially from her appointment of an associate judge. Dupuy never produced evidence backing up his allegations against Yarbrough.
Dupuy also raised eyebrows by citing Associate Family Judge Suzanne Radcliffeand a lawyer sharing her office for contempt. His ethics complaint that Radcliffe should not be a family court judge while practicing family law was upheld and Radcliffe resigned.
Roady previously confirmed that Dupuy was the subject of multiple complaints meriting criminal investigation. Roady asked the Texas attorney general to take over the investigations. Dupuy called the complaints politically motivated.
Dupuy has been accused of improper behavior since his election in 2010 in a Republican sweep. His controversial actions include phoning an attorney at home and threatening judicial consequences for calling the judge’s wife to testify in a hearing. A judge fined Dupuy $7,500 in January 2012 for improperly trying to remove the judge overseeing a malpractice suit against him.
A group of attorneys is trying to oust Dupuy.