Saturday, August 26, 2006

County Judge Bob Hebert responds to our charges: "I was lying."

An artist's impression of Hebert and the current state of his pants.

That's right. Because of a certain pair of blog posts, Bob Hebert felt obliged to emerge from his undiclosed location and tell the whole world he is a liar.

The problem was that if Hebert is the kind of the County Judge that has judicial duties, he cannot legally endorse candidates. Which he did. Twice. In the same race. In under 2 weeks. But even though he brags on his own campaign website about having "numerous judicial duties," don't worry, says Hebert: He was just lying. See? No more problem, right?

Seriously. That's the bulk of his explaination -"I may have listed all those judicial duties, but I was lying. I don't actually perform them. And some of them aren't, in my opinion, judicial duties. I just called them that to look cool."

So ends the tale of Fort Bend County (Not a) Judge Bob Hebert: A man truly unafraid to have his judicial ethics and eat them too. Or does it? Click here for a full text copy of my complaint letter to the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, one of many being sent, I am told.

UPDATE: It looks like Judge Hebert committed a felony. Consider this law from Title 8 of the Texas Penal Code, Offenses Against Public Administration:

(a) A person commits an offense if he:

(2) knowingly purports to exercise any function of a
public servant or of a public office, including that of a judge and
court, and the position or office through which he purports to
exercise a function of a public servant or public office has no
lawful existence under the constitution or laws of this state or of
the United States.

(b) An offense under this section is a felony of the third

Hebert claims on his website to currently exercise judicial functions, namely, that he handles contested probate matters. But according to Mr. Hebert's statements today, that is a function of judgeship that has no current lawful existence - It will not exist until January or February of 2007. His misrepresentations are therefore in violation of 37.11, and constitute a third degree felony. And in any case, as he indicated in today's statements, he will never handle "contested probate cases," despite purporting to do so on his website.

Insteading of being in danger of a private slap on the wrist from the SCOJC, Hebert has now thrown himself into the chasm of criminal liability. Judge Hebert, allow me to give you some friendly advice a good lawyer once gave me: "When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging."


Blogger muse said...

You know, I keep thinking things can't get any more fun around here, but it just keeps getting better and better.

To think that Hebert felt the need to respond to us - magnificent!

9:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some from our group would like to get involved Mark. Please re-post how or a template complaint letter with the contact info and I will send it out over our e-mail list (almost 2000 strong). You need to watch out for the Texas Safety site and Chris Elam's bunch because Hebert is one of his clients and released the smears on Mr. Small back in the democratic primaries. Keep us posted and thanks for keeping the heat on this EDC guy!!!

5:02 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

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

11:56 AM  
Anonymous Kenneth Fair said...

A few points on constitutional county courts:

1. Texas Constitution article V, section 15 creates a single court in each county known as the "county court" or "constitutional county court." The Fort Bend County Court, Judge Robert Hebert presiding, is a constitutional county court. Among other duties, the judge of the constitutional county court is the executive officer for the county.

2. Constitutional county courts have the jurisdiction to hear cases; that jurisdiction is granted to them by Texas Constitution article V, section 16 and by Texas Goverment Code chapter 26. By default, constitutional county courts have original jurisdiction over cases between $200.01 and $5,000.00, probate & guardianship matters, juvenile matters, and misdemeanor criminal matters, as well as appellate jurisdiction from justice, municipal, and small claims courts. Tex. Gov't Code §§26.041-26.046; Tex. Prob. Code §4.

3. Constitutional county courts can have their jurisdiction modified or removed on a county-by-county basis. For instance, the Aransas County Court has no probate, juvenile, civil, or criminal jurisdiction. Tex. Gov't Code §26.104. As far as I can tell, there is no corresponding statute removing jurisdiction from the Fort Bend County Court. See generally Tex. Gov't Code ch. 26.

4. In addition to the constitutional county court, Fort Bend County has four county courts-at-law (a.k.a. statutory county courts). Tex. Gov't Code §25.0811. The county courts-at-law share probate jurisdiction with the constitutional county court. Tex. Gov't Code §25.0003(d). At the beginning of each year, the constitutional county court in counties such as Fort Bend County can submit a statement to the county clerk by January 15th each year electing not to hear probate matters (resulting in them being heard by the county courts-at-law instead). Tex. Gov't Code §26.052(b). I don't know if Judge Hebert did so this year or not. If not, his court does have jurisdiction over probate matters.

5. Constitutional county courts that have jurisdiction over probate matters do have the jurisdiction to hear contested probate matters (e.g., will contests). If a probate matter in constitutional county court becomes contested, the judge may on his own motion, and must on the motion of a party, transfer the case to a county court-at-law. Tex. Prob. Code §5(c). Otherwise, the contested matter remains in the constitutional county court.

6. Whether Judge Hebert is a "County Judge who performs judicial functions" such as would subject him to the Code of Judicial Conduct is to me unclear. I can't tell whether that means any county judge with jurisdiction over cases (which Judge Hebert appears to have) or only county judges when they are exercising their judicial functions. I would lean towards the former, given that endorsements are unlikely to happen from the bench but judges are prohibited from making them elsewhere.

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