Galveston DA shifts judge probes to state

Galveston DA shifts judge probes to state

By Harvey Rice | February 18, 2013

GALVESTON – Investigations into the conduct of a Galveston County judge are being referred to the Texas attorney general, District Attorney Jack Roady said Monday.

Roady is asking the attorney general’s office to take over investigations into complaints against County Court-at-Law Judge Christopher Dupuy. If his office investigated, Roady said, he would have to ask Dupuy to withdraw as judge in hundreds of criminal cases pending in his court. It would be a conflict of interest for prosecutors to be investigating a judge while prosecuting cases over which the judge presides.

Dupuy’s withdrawal from so many cases would cost thousands of tax dollars to hire visiting judges to handle Dupuy’s criminal cases, Roady said.

“Judge Dupuy presides over one-third of the thousands of misdemeanor cases prosecuted by my office each year,” Roady said.

Roady also revealed that he had received more than one complaint against Dupuy meriting investigation.

“My office has received a number of complaints relating to Judge Dupuy,” he said, but he declined to say how many or reveal the nature of the complaints.

Last week Roady confirmed that he was investigating a complaint alleging abuse of official capacity after the attorney who filed the complaint made it public. Attorney Greg Enos accused Dupuy of improperly faxing legal advice to his fiancee from his chambers.

Dupuy has called the complaints against him politically motivated.

Any further allegations against Dupuy also will be referred to the attorney general, Roady said.

Original Source:  The Houston Chronicle, February 18, 2013, http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Galveston-DA-shifts-judge-probes-to-state-4288054.php

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Galveston DA Investigates Dupuy for Criminal Complaint, Fiancee Testifies

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.

‘Bizarro world’

“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.

Sealed hearing

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 chris.paschenko@galvnews.com.

http://www.galvestondailynews.com/news/local_news/article_b8b57ede-75a3-11e2-b1a3-001a4bcf6878.html

Dupuy holds bizarre criminal contempt hearing

Dupuy holds bizarre criminal contempt hearing

Judge asks attorney to explain, defend or apologize for statement; issues no ruling

Posted: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 12:00 am

By CHRIS PASCHENKO

Attorneys were at a loss Monday to explain the relevance or legality of a hearing called by a county court judge who has accused an attorney of committing criminal contempt.

In a roughly two-hour hearing, Judge Christopher Dupuy repeatedly asked attorneys representing lawyer Lori Laird to explain, defend or apologize for statements in her November motion that seeks to have the judge removed from hearing a family law case.

When the hearing concluded, Dupuy said he would make a ruling on the matter in the near future. A second but similar hearing involving Laird is scheduled to resume at 9 a.m. today.

Dupuy has come under scrutiny for incidents both before and after he was elected judge of Galveston County Court at Law No. 3 in a Republican landslide at the 2010 polls.

Laird was representing a client in a divorce case before Dupuy and filed motions seeking to have him removed from the case. Dupuy accused Laird of filing an unprofessional pleading that tended to disrespect authority and impede, embarrass or obstruct the court and its personnel.

Dupuy in January found Laird in contempt of court and requested another judge to have a hearing to confirm his finding. He also sought to have Laird fined and sentenced to not more than six months in jail and 50 hours of legal education on ethics.

Motion in question

In a 13-page motion filed in November, Laird leveled several allegations against Dupuy, claiming he was biased, in an effort to have him removed from a divorce case. Dupuy denied the allegations and claimed Laird’s recusal motion was frivolous.

Laird was forced to appear for Monday’s hearing because of a show-cause order filed by Dupuy in which he ordered Laird to appear in his court to show cause of why she should not be held in criminal contempt.

Although the Galveston County District Attorney’s Office had a prosecutor, Kevin Petroff, in the courtroom, he sat with spectators that nearly filled the benches behind the bar.

“I was only here to state that if the court were to ask us to participate, that we had no plans to participate,” Petroff said. “Nor were we asked to participate.”

Two tossed

from courtroom

Dupuy had two people removed from his courtroom during the proceeding, his ex-wife, Adrienne Viterna, for chewing gum, and one of Laird’s attorney’s, Tad Nelson, for interrupting the judge.

After Dupuy ordered Nelson out of his court, attorneys Cynthia Tracy and Greg Hughes became Laird’s attorneys of record.

Dupuy questioned the attorneys on more than 30 of Laird’s allegations in her recusal motion and whether she would explain, defend or apologize for the statements therein.

The attorneys responded that they would explain if they were presented with evidence against their client.

Dupuy claimed the evidence was Laird’s recusal motion — which was not entered as evidence — and that he wasn’t there to educate the attorneys or answer their questions.

Hughes said he believed the hearing was about indirect criminal contempt, which would require a prosecutor and evidence of any alleged contempt. The defense should also be able to cross-examine witnesses, he said.

Hearing a ‘charade’

‘We have no evidence and no witnesses to respond to,” Hughes said.

Hughes referred to the hearing as a “charade” that ignored rules of civil or criminal procedure.

Galveston County Judge Mark Henry and Sheriff Henry Trochesset were also present. Trochesset said he was there to make sure that if the judge ordered his staff to do anything, he would make sure it was done properly.

Nelson called the hearing the most bizarre he’d seen.

“What we’ve witnessed today has never happened in the history of Harris or Galveston counties,” Nelson said. “There was no due process. Literally all he did for the first 30 minutes was read allegations that he offered no evidence for.”

Attorney Greg Enos, who was in the gallery, questioned the timing of the hearing, as Laird has a hearing scheduled today that seeks to recuse Dupuy from a case.

Explaining the hearing would be akin to asking farmers to, “explain a three-headed cow that whistled Dixie,” Enos said.

Contact reporter Chris Paschenko at 409-683-5241 or chris.paschenko@galvnews.com.

http://www.galvestondailynews.com/news/local_news/article_d9f54e64-74d4-11e2-8093-0019bb30f31a.html

Galveston DA investigates county judge

Galveston DA investigates county judge 

By Harvey Rice | February 14, 2013 | Updated: February 14, 2013 10:29pm 

GALVESTON – The Galveston County district attorney is investigating a criminal complaint that a county judge improperly used his office to give legal advice to his fiancée.

The complaint by attorney Greg Enos accuses Judge Christopher Dupuy of abuse of official capacity for sending a fax from his chambers offering legal advice to his fiancée.

District Attorney Jack Roady confirmed that his office is investigating Enos’ complaint but declined further comment.

Dupuy accused Enos of filing the complaint for political and professional purposes. “Nevertheless, his allegation is so frivolous that now, months after Enos’ complaint, the DA has not seen a need to even ask me a single question,” Dupuy said.

The abuse-of-official-capacity law prohibits a public official from using government property for personal benefit. The crime can be a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the value of the violation.

Enos said the fax may also violate ethics rules. “Ethics rules say that when you are a judge you cannot give legal advice,” he said.

Although the complaint was filed Dec. 27, Enos said he was present Tuesday when a woman testified under oath in a custody hearing that she was Dupuy’s fiancée and that he had faxed her legal advice from his chambers in the courthouse.

Enos said he became aware of the issue when he received a copy of the fax in December.

Dupuy has been embroiled in controversy over his alleged mistreatment of attorneys, accusations against fellow judges and his conduct as judge since his election in 2010.

A group of attorneys led by Enos has been leading efforts to have Dupuy removed from office.

http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Galveston-DA-investigates-county-judge-4279744.php

DA investigating complaint against Dupuy

Posted: Thursday, January 17, 2013 12:15 am | Updated: 7:18 am, Fri Jan 18, 2013.

GALVESTON — The Galveston County District Attorney’s Office is investigating a county court judge after receiving a complaint that claims the judge possibly abused his official capacity.

The complaint stems from a Dec. 27 letter from attorney Greg Enos, who urged an investigation into Judge Christopher Dupuy of County Court at Law No. 3.

 

Enos claims in the letter he has circumstantial evidence that Dupuy used county equipment or software to provide legal assistance to a woman. Enos says Dupuy is dating the woman and might have used county equipment to help her in a family law matter, which could be a violation of the state’s penal code related to abuse of official capacity. 

Dupuy, who was elected judge in a 2010 Republican landslide, denied Enos’ allegations in a statement to The Daily News, calling them ridiculous and baseless.

“There’s no need to respond to ridiculous, baseless allegations made by a partisan Democrat to a socialist newspaper,” Dupuy said. 

Dupuy also said he was saddened Enos would chose to fabricate allegations when he has no proof.

“I am thankful that the county provides all offices a floor-based receptacle for the receipt of such nonsense,” Dupuy said.

‘Not a party issue’

Enos responded to Dupuy’s comment, saying that although he supports U.S. President Barak Obama, he has also recently battled against two county Democrat judges.

“Being a good judge, being ethical and following the law is not a party issue,” Enos said.

In the letter to Criminal District Attorney Jack Roady, Enos says he represents a father in a child custody modification case. Enos says Dupuy is dating the mother in the case.

The mother’s attorney was disqualified from the case, so she represented herself, Enos says.

On Dec. 17, Enos claims in the complaint that his law office received faxed documents on the case that said they are from Christopher Dupuy. The faxes came from a phone number that is apparently associated with an Internet-based fax service that allows subscribers to email their documents to the service, and the service faxes the documents to designated clients.

Other attorneys have confirmed Dupuy used this service to send faxes that are clearly from the judge, such as state bar grievances, and those faxes have the identical number and name at the top, Enos claims.

The documents were clearly drafted by an attorney and not the woman, who works as a dental hygienist, the letter claims.

County-purchased software

Enos claims the county recently purchased the legal document assembly program Pro Doc for Dupuy. Enos’ office uses Pro Doc extensively to prepare legal documents in his family law practice of 27 years. Enos said he is very certain the documents he sent to Roady were prepared using Pro Doc.

Judges generally have no need for the software, as attorneys create legal papers for judges, Enos said.

Enos had a hearing before Dupuy on Dec. 19 from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m., and at 3:32 p.m., Enos’ office received a fax on the woman’s case. The fax listed Christopher Dupuy’s name, Enos claims.

“Given that I had just concluded a hearing before Judge Dupuy at roughly 3 p.m., it seems almost certain that this fax was sent by him from the courthouse,” Enos’ letter states.

Although the custody modification case is sealed, the judge will allow Enos to send the documents to the state bar and State Commission on Judicial Conduct, Enos said.

No ‘smoking gun’

“I don’t have a smoking gun or direct proof he did any of that,” Enos said. “It’s just circumstantial and makes it highly suspicious.”

Enos speculated Dupuy could have used his own laptop from the courthouse or allowed the woman or an attorney to use the software.

Enos also said he hoped Dupuy had not committed a crime, but he felt it was his duty to bring the facts to Roady’s attention.

The Texas Penal Code says offenses under the abuse of official capacity statute range from Class-C misdemeanors to first-degree felonies based on the value of the what government property could have been misused.

“I can confirm that we’ve received Greg Enos’ complaint and are investigating it,” Roady said.