Texas AG okays State Commission on Judicial Conduct secrecy

Bad news to report.  And Texas Watchdog has it right:  “It is at great personal risk that Texas Watchdog discloses that Attorney General Greg Abbott agrees that Texas law allows the State Commission on Judicial Conduct to operate in utter secrecy.”

Click to read the full Judicial panel may keep records secret, Texas AG says story.

And though the Austin American-Statesman often espouses a point of view with which we don’t agree, it too gets this one right:

It could well be that the delegates to the 1876 Constitutional Convention agreed that the state’s judges – who they said should be elected – were entitled to a shield of secrecy when answering complaints of misconduct. It could well be that the framers of the Texas Constitution intended to create an agency that didn’t have to disclose its workings to anyone.

Because we don’t presume to read the minds of men long since dead, we can’t say for sure that delegates didn’t have secrecy as an agenda item. What we can say is that such a cloak isn’t appropriate in today’s Texas, despite the claim by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct to the contrary.

The judicial commission’s claim was upheld in an opinion issued last week by Attorney General Greg Abbott. As the American-Statesman’s Eric Dexheimer reported, Abbott ruled that strict confidentiality rules written into the Texas Constitution shield the commission from scrutiny – whether by the public or by state auditors responsible for evaluating the efficiency of state bureaucracies.

Abbott’s ruling caps, for now, a controversy that developed when Sunset Advisory Commission auditors were denied access to the judicial commission’s meetings and records.

The 13-member State Commission on Judicial Conduct is appointed by the governor and hears complaints brought against the state’s judges behind closed doors. Sunset auditors asked to sit in on commission meetings and were denied access. When sunset commission staffers asked to see memorandums about disciplinary rulings, the answer was still “no.” Attorney-client privilege, the judicial commission staff said.

It is a setup the late Joseph Heller wrote about in his classic “Catch-22”: You can’t sit in on the meetings because they’re secret. Why are they secret? We can’t tell you that. Why not? Because it’s secret.

Read more.

Attribution:

Open up Texas’ Catch-22 agency
Editorial Board
December 12, 2012
Austin American-Statesman
http://www.statesman.com/news/news/opinion/open-up-texas-catch-22-agency/nTStn/?utm_source=MRT+Morning+Email+List&utm_campaign=e1b111f03b-121312_4am_CT12_13_2012&utm_medium=email

Looks like the “lawyers first” mantra bore out again.

As we said before, bad news to report.

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  • Ed Cage

    12-20-12

    I have personally uncovered corruption on a grand scale within the SCJC – SCJC General Counsel Bob Warneke was apparently forced to resign for his part in an elaborate cover-up in which the SCJC claimed:

    1) After an 11 (eleven) month investigation I was incorrectly told by Warneke the case number I submitted was only a “date” and not a cause/case number. When I pointed out their error Executive Director Willing and attorney Bob Warneke opened a new
    “investigation.”

    2) SCJC Executive Director Willing’s second investigation incredibly found that my own personal records “never existed.” There were no sources, names of personnel at any
    level, names of judges, or even the name of the SCJC source (Bob Warneke) who
    came up with this bizarre yarn with the help of hired attorney Robert Davis who Lewis, Beaty and McCraw had hired.

    3) When I cornered Executive Director Willing and attorney Warneke he resigned only months before the end of his contract; calling it a “retirement.”

    4) My case was brought in JP Judge Johnny Lewis’s court in circa May 16, 2005. There was no sworn evidence or testimony of any sort. Additionally there was no testimony
    from any official from Collin County. I was never contacted nor did I testify
    on my own behalf nor was I even contacted by anyone by phone.

    5) My sister Veronica
    Jenkins of Plano filed an Emergency Mental Health Evaluation because I found
    out my wife had a long affair with my brother in law Robert Keen. They figured
    I was “crazy” and it sailed through the court system of JP Judge Lewis
    (a political adversary of mine) and was executed by Judge John L. McCraw of
    McKinney. I was arrested in my underwear and handcuffed during the day in front
    of my neighbors by 3 PPD officers. The
    lead officer was Plano Police Officer Burns who is still employed by the PPD.

    6) The unsworn complaint alleged I “thought my wife had been carrying on affairs for 210 years” in an unsworn and unsigned letter from my sister Cathy Cage Keen. Again there was no sworn testimony of any sort and I was never contacted nor was any
    attempt to contact me. Both visiting Judge John L. McCraw of McKinney and Judge
    Johnny Lewis very rapidly approved this unsworn court petition.

    7) IMPORTANT: Judge John Payton of Plano refused to approve
    this attempted legal action which had no affidavits of any sort, no sworn
    testimony from anyone or any agency, and no input from the accused. (Ed M. Cage)

    8) It was and is documented that I was released in what Green Oaks Hospital told us was
    “record time.” Even 8 hours less than the mandatory observation time.

    9) I have submitted 4 pages of a sworn affidavit under maximum penalty for perjury.

    10) No Statute of Limitations laws were ever violated.

    Again the case was recklessly rushed through by Misty Beaty who Judge Lewis used as a cover-up “buffer,” Judge Johnny Lewis and Judge John L. McCraw who all quickly hired attorney Robert Davis when they discovered I had learned that there was no sworn evidence by anyone and no input whatsoever from me. Lewis’s Court Director Administrator Misty Beaty was a driving force in the cover-up effort by Judges Lewis and McCraw and their attorney Robert Davis. It is my understanding that Misty Beaty, Judge Lewis, and Judge John McCraw will no longer be active in court. Further SCJC attorney General Counsel Bob Warneke has also resigned early, calling it a “retirement.” It is my belief attorney Bob Warneke was bribed in the SCJC cover-up attempt.

    Respectfully,

    Ed Cage / ecagetx@gmail.com / 972-861-9580 Toll Free