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


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.


Transcripts from Dupuy Hearings Now Available

The transcripts from the Dupuy “hearings” are now available online at the links below. Read them and decide for yourself whether justice was done.


Dupuy Hearing – Feb 11 part 1



Dupuy Hearing – Feb 11 part 2



Dupuy Hearing – Feb 12 part 1



Dupuy Hearing – Feb 12 part 2



Dupuy Hearing – SBOT grievance dismissal evidence


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


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.