Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Bob Hebert, Shelley Sekula-Gibbs and a little thing called the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct

Well, I told you all that you would be hearing from me only once a week, but alas, here I am. I really thought my posting would slow down, but it seems the local GOP cannot go two days without doing something illegal. Monday, it was bribery. Today, it's illegal use of office.

Well, first I suggest you check out this post by Muse, but for the lazy and those with too many Explorer windows open, I will summarize. In Texas, the conduct of judges and judicial candidates are policed by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct. The Commission established the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct, laid out in a series of Canons. Consider this provision from Canon 5:

Pretty clear right? This applies to all municipal, district and county court judges, as well as certain county judges, namely "consitutional county judges who perform judicial duties." Judicial duties include presiding over a court, but also more mundane things like signing birth and death certificates and performing weddings. Fort Bend has a such county judge. From the county judge FAQ on the county website:

"[T]he County Judge oversees all county government departments through the court's responsibility for approving annual budgets for the entire county. The County Judge, as an agent of the state, approves applications for beer, wine, and mixed beverage licenses. The County Judge also signs delayed birth and death certificates and may perform wedding ceremonies."

Mr. and Mrs. Bob Hebert, surviving an encounter
with infamous gunman Richard Cheney.

Our county judge is Bob Hebert. Apparently, Bob could care less about the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct. In under two weeks, he has violated Canon 5 twice. First, he endorsed a David Wallace write-in campaign, and now that Wallace has left the race, he is using his name and office to endorse Shelley Sekula-Gibbs.

So WTF? Why is Bob flagrantly ignoring the Texas Code on Judicial Conduct?

Possiblity 1: Maybe Bob just feels bad for cranky coot and District Judge Brady Elliot. After all, Brady Elliot has the lonely distinction of being the only Fort Bend judge to be censured by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct for "failing to act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary." Perhaps Bob justs want to give Elliot some company.

Possibility the 2nd: Bob Hebert has never heard of, much less read, the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct. Or perhaps he naively believes that he is a purely administrative county judge, and is exempt from the code, despite the fact that he performs judicial duties. In he really wanted us to buy this argument, maybe he shouldn't have specifically requested the ability to hear probate matters in exchange for a pay raise...

Hebert, shown here looking
suspiciously like a judge...

UPDATE: Or maybe he shouldn't have specificially claimed a boatload of judicial duties on his own campaign website! (And yes, I have a screenshot in case he changes it...Double update: He changed it like a moron.) Hebert claims that he performs "numerous other judicial duties" including (but not limited to) handling contested probate cases, setting and recieving bonds and sureties, performing medical committments, and more.

Possiblity v3.0: Bob Hebert simply doesn't care. He is used to Fort Bend County being a GOP stronghold with no checks and balances on county government.

But if you care, you can file a complaint against Bob.

New Possibility, 4th Edition: Bob is emulating one of his heroes, Iran-Contra scoundrel Oliver North. Seriously, you have to wonder how many other enemies of American democracy Mr. and Mrs. Hebert have gleefully posed with...

LAST UPDATE: Judge Hebert responds to our charges!


Anonymous Nate said...

Ooooooh, busted!

7:34 PM  
Blogger Capitol Annex said...

A first-class assessment. BTW, your blog has killer graphics.

9:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is anyone filing a complaint at the state level yet. I would be more than happy too.

2:10 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

I have filed a complaint, as have several others. But every letter helps and increases the chances of a more public censure.

The website for the SCOJC has PDF complaint form, but you can also just write a simple letter. The full text of my complaint letter can be found here:

Since I am a law student, it is written is a formal legal style, but feel free to use it as a template for other complaint letters.

Letters should be sent to:

State Commission on Judicial Conduct
PO Box 12265
Austin TX 78711

11:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You all just seem to be angry and onto nothing. Herbert is behind in the polls. The Democrats are not organized. This adds up to a Republican win whether we like it or not.

I wonder if my comments will be deleted by the blogster. . .

7:36 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

"You all just seem to be angry and onto nothing."

You seem to be clueless and on something...


"Herbert is behind in the polls."

Hebert is not running in an election.


"The Democrats are not organized."

Totally. I lost my car keys yesterday.


"I wonder if my comments will be deleted by the blogster. . ."

Never. You're so clueless that it's charming.

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