Criss: People are afraid of Dupuy

Criss: People are afraid of Dupuy

By Chris Paschenko | Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 1:00 am

GALVESTON — A district court judge said Tuesday that county employees have told her and others that they’re afraid County Court Judge Christopher Dupuy will become violent and hurt or kill someone.

Judge Susan Criss, of Galveston’s 212th District Court, also said County Court Judge Barbara Roberts asked for armed security for a judge’s meeting in January. Criss claims Roberts made the request because of concerns that Dupuy would act in a manner that threatened the safety of the judiciary.

Roberts, however, said in a Tuesday telephone interview with The Daily News that her request for a bailiff had nothing to do with Dupuy and that she made it for general safety reasons, as all the judges meet in one room of the Justice Center. Roberts said she was positive Dupuy didn’t attend the meeting.

Roberts also said she was not aware of any threats involving Dupuy and had a cordial relationship with him.

In an emailed response to The Daily News, Dupuy called Criss a “political nutcase” and an “embarrassment” and threatened to sue The Daily News if it published the story.

“I wonder what her story would be if she was under oath and subject to perjury,” Dupuy said. “Perhaps she and her ex-husband, (Greg) Enos, should simply grow up in lieu of their recent malicious political lies.”

In a subsequent email to The Daily News, Dupuy said, “Rest assured I will sue you, Criss and the paper if any of her false, malicious lies are published.”

Criss said she sent her concerns in a letter via email to county officials, including Criminal District Attorney Jack Roady, County Judge Mark Henry and Sheriff Henry Trochesset.

Criss claims Dupuy made statements on Facebook, an online social network, and to his children about acquiring and carrying firearms, including a rifle and a handgun, and concealing them in a zipped pocket in his jacket.

“I understand the district attorney has a taped recording of Judge Dupuy’s children discussing this,” Criss wrote in the letter.

Criss says she sent the email to ask what elected officials are doing to protect everyone at the courthouse.

DA to meet with sheriff, county judge

Roady declined to discuss specifics of the email.

“However, please know I do take her concerns seriously and will be meeting with the sheriff and county judge to address them,” Roady said.

Criss claims people she’s known for years have expressed their concerns.

“Courthouse employees and attorneys are discussing numerous accounts of erratic behavior and mood swings,” Criss wrote. “Media accounts are describing his behavior as bizarre.”

Criss said she never expected to have to write an email to elected officials, asking how they intend to protect the public, the other elected officials and courthouse employees from a member of the judiciary.

“When people are coming up to me unsolicited and making those comments, that’s a red flag to me,” Criss said in a phone conversation with The Daily News.

Criss voiced similar concerns with Jason Murray, a former district clerk, who resigned in April 2012 amid criminal charges related to family violence.

“And in the end, those in charge stepped up and did what was necessary to protect everyone from danger,” Criss wrote.

Both Criss and Roberts said they’d be willing to pass through metal detectors to enter the courthouse.

“I think all the judges have said they’re willing to go through that,” Roberts said.

Judge seeks to ‘tighten’ security

Roberts, however, said she believed there were things that could be done to tighten courthouse security.

The sheriff’s office provides security at the Justice Center. A sheriff’s office spokesman had no immediate comment on the matter.

Dupuy has garnered attention for actions both before and after he took office. He was under a six-month probated suspension from the state bar when he ran for election. The bar found he committed professional misconduct.

Dupuy is also named in a $500,000 fraud and malpractice lawsuit that accused him of engaging in conduct that resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars of damages against his own clients. A judge sanctioned Dupuy $7,500 in connection to that lawsuit, saying he filed motions solely for the purpose of delay and without evidence.

Dupuy has twice filed for bankruptcy, once in 2004, and again shortly after the sanction, but his last bankruptcy was dismissed in December on his request. Dupuy listed $299,772 as the amount owed to creditors, including attorney fees, credit card companies, four civil suits, two foreclosures, two repossessions and two student loans.

Earlier this month, Dupuy held an attorney in contempt in connection with motions she filed seeking to recuse the judge from her family law cases. The judge ultimately recused himself from one case but held her in contempt and wants an administrative judge to sentence her to 110 days in jail.

Roady announced Monday that his office is forwarding complaints against Dupuy to the state attorney general’s office, including one from Enos that accused Dupuy of possibly abusing his official capacity. Enos accused Dupuy of using county equipment to provide legal assistance to his fiancée, who was involved in a custody dispute. Enos represents the father in the dispute.

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Judge blasts judge: He could ‘hurt or kill someone’

Judge blasts judge: He could ‘hurt or kill someone’

By Harvey Rice | February 19, 2013 | Updated: February 20, 2013 1:48am

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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.

Facebook remarks

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.

http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Judge-blasts-judge-He-could-hurt-or-kill-4290657.php

Dupuy wants to replace county’s justice administrator

* County judge calls request ‘a waste of time’

 Posted: Tuesday, February 5, 2013 1:00 am | Updated: 7:26 am, Wed Feb 6, 2013.

By T.J. AULDS

 Embattled County Court Judge Christopher Dupuy has asked county commissioners to replace the county’s justice administration administrator.

But it’s unlikely the request will ever see the light of day. County Judge Mark Henry said he considers Dupuy’s request a waste of the commissioners’ time and, barring a request from another member of the commissioners court, the request won’t go anywhere.

 

Last week, Dupuy asked the commissioners to remove Bonnie Quiroga, accusing her of lying and misusing her office. He also said the move would save the county money.

Quiroga, in a complaint filed with the county’s human resources department, said Dupuy’s complaint is little more than retribution for her complaints to county officials and the district attorney’s office about Dupuy’s actions as a judge.

Records obtained by The Daily News show that Quiroga has reported to county officials concerns about Dupuy’s actions, which, she says, include harassing county officials and employees and threatening attorneys with contempt citations when they have complained of the way he conducts business.

Dupuy, who was elected in 2010 as part of the Republican landslide, also faces a criminal investigation on complaints that he misused county resources to help associates and has been the subject of several complaints with the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, as well as with the region’s administrative judge. He also faces an effort by attorneys who are seeking to remove him from the bench.

On Tuesday, Dupuy sent a request to Henry’s office asking for an agenda item to replace Quiroga.

Dupuy accused the justice administrator of lying about “a veteran issue” and claims she is about to be the subject of a criminal complaint that she “used her office and position” to misuse confidential information.

Dupuy also suggested the county would save money because Quiroga, who has worked for the county for years, “collects the maximum salary, wherein a new employees would significantly save the county money yearly in salary and benefits.”

The Daily News could not confirm or find the criminal complaint Dupuy mentioned.

When asked to clarify his request to commissioners, Dupuy accused Quiroga as using her office for political purposes, which “would be reason enough for her to step down” but would not clarify. Dupuy would not clarify what she had done within her office that was political

As for why he filed the agenda request?

“The public deserves accountability and the best person it can get for that position,” Dupuy said. “As a county, we are currently not getting what we are paying for.”

Henry, who is Quiroga’s boss, said: “Bonnie does a fine job. I (gave) Bonnie marching orders two years ago exactly what she is supposed to do in that job, and she’s done it. I have no knowledge of her ever lying to me about anything.”

Dupuy did not elaborate on what the “lie” was about, but Quiroga did raise a concern to Henry that she thought the judge was using a table he set up in the hall outside his courtroom with some veterans material that was not court-related, which is not allowed in the courthouse.

When told that was Dupuy’s reference, Henry scoffed.

“Calling that a veterans issue is a stretch, and she didn’t lie,” he said. “She brought up a concern, that’s all.”

Henry, Quiroga’s boss, said Dupuy would have to look elsewhere to get support for getting rid of Quiroga.

“I’m not interested in putting this on the agenda,” he said. “There are people who come to us all the time wanting stuff that would waste our time on the agenda. This would fall into that category.”

In her letter to the county’s human resource office, Quiroga said Dupuy was “acting out of retaliation for actions taken by me and my office with regard to possible wrongdoing … including making inappropriate purchases on the county-issued credit card, discussions regarding abuse of judicial authority, bullying and intimidation, retaliation toward both female employees and female private attorneys, security violations, misuse of county equipment for personal use (and) assisting a litigant and use of common areas of the courts building for non-court related matters.

“His attempt to terminate my employment with Galveston County is a veiled threat, as he alone does not have any power with regard to my employment.”

Attorney Greg Enos, who is leading a charge to have Dupuy removed from the bench and who is also Quiroga’s attorney as part of the criminal complaint against the judge, said he expects that by the end of the month a lawsuit will be filed to remove Dupuy from his post.

“We have a core group of 14 lawyers working on it,” Enos said. “We have expressions of support from dozens of lawyers. We think it will be filed in conjunction with some county (elected) officials.

“I think it’s safe in stating that everyone at the courthouse wants to see him gone.”

Dupuy claims complaints against him are political attacks.

“The political disruptions of my ex-wife and her attorneys are nonsense,” Dupuy said. “Every reasonable attorney in the county knows it. Indeed, the facts and evidence have always shown that every political allegation made has never had any factual basis. I am not calling these handful of people liars — just that they have an awful time with being truthful.”


Judge resigns after judicial ethics opinion

Posted: Thursday, February 7, 2013 12:00 am

GALVESTON — An associate judge has resigned her post of 16 years after Wednesday’s release of an opinion by the Committee on Judicial Ethics.

The opinion titled “Practice of Law by Part-time Judge” states a family law jurist cannot also practice family law as an attorney in the same county or in surrounding counties that use the same appeals courts.

 

Suzanne Schwab Radcliffe was appointed as an associate judge in 1997 to hear child abuse cases and earned $38,000 annually with no benefits.

“I was working for 16 years under a signed agreement by all the judges who heard family law cases, allowing my private cases to be transferred to their courts to avoid the appearance of impropriety,” Radcliffe said. “In all the years, I only had two attorneys complain, and I immediately withdrew from those cases. It is because of the new opinion that I am resigning immediately.”

Commissioners likely to vote on contract

Galveston County Judge Mark Henry said county commissioners would likely vote to end Radcliffe’s contract during a specially called Monday meeting and then reauthorize a contract for another appointed judge.

Family Court Judge Janis L. Yarbrough of Galveston’s 306th District Court said her predecessor, Judge Susan P. Baker, appointed Radcliffe after receiving a grant to pay a part-time judge to hear cases involving Child Protective Services.

“They agreed other county courts would transfer their CPS cases to county court 1 and county court 2,” Yarbrough said. “county court 3 had not yet been created.”

The commission continued the contract after the grant expired, Yarbrough said.

Dupuy requested opinion

Judge Christopher Dupuy of Galveston’s County Court at Law No. 3 said he requested the opinion in the fall. Dupuy held Radcliffe in contempt in November, claiming there was a conflict of interest in her dual role as a family law attorney and judge. Dupuy ordered Radcliffe disqualified from a divorce proceeding in his court and held her in contempt, but the contempt order was reversed on appeal.

Dupuy said he single-handedly spearheaded a drive to remove cronyism and friendship from the county’s judicial decisions.

The statewide ethics opinion made public Wednesday was the first one issued since 2009.

“In essence, what has been transpiring for more than a decade in Galveston County has been unethical,” Dupuy said.

When questioned by other lawyers in the past about the matter, Yarbrough told them to ask for an opinion, a mandamus or seek an appeal, she said. Family law attorney Greg Enos, who has practiced for 27 years, raised the issue last summer, Yarbrough said.

“I have been the lone wolf in the wilderness arguing for years with Yarbrough about this,” Enos said. “They should have done this a long time ago.”

Opinion a surprise

Radcliffe called the committee’s opinion a surprise. She had one raise in 16 years and had no choice but to continue her law practice, she said.

“I find it questionable that I have practiced in front of Dupuy for two years before he suddenly had a problem with this,” Radcliffe said.

Radcliffe also said she was saddened that she would have to resign because she did the job not for pay but because she was passionate about helping children.

“There is a reason why the Texas Commission for Children advocate for specialized abuse and neglect courts with judges who are experienced in the area,” Radcliffe said.