Judge Mike Herrera was reprimanded by the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct in February for, among other things, keeping his divorce case in his own court for months. He received the state’s second-severest sanction and has ordered Herrera to seek six hours of “additional education.” According to the El Paso Times, “Seana Willing, executive director of the Commission on Judicial Conduct, said the only more serious punishment the commission could have given would be to begin a process that could end with a judge’s removal.” Was the more harsh punishment not pursued because his actions did not merit it? Probably not. According to Seana Willing the harsher punishment wasn’t pursued, “Because we elect our judges, it’s not going to be easy to reverse the will of the voters,” she said.” Anyone else see the issue with this logic? The “will of the voters” did not know any of this information about Judge Mike Herrera when he was elected. Who knows what the “will of the voters” is now that this information is available – nobody has asked them.
But wait, it gets even better (worse?). “On at least five occasions, the El Paso County Council of Judges has paid lawyers to support one of its own in a practice that a higher Texas court has called ‘blatantly improper.'” According to the El Paso Times, on at least five occasions, TAX PAYER dollars were used to pay lawyers to file motions on behalf of Judge Mike Herrera challenging his removal from cases that were being handled by lawyer Angelica Carreon-Beltran (the lawyer who was representing his wife in the divorce). “The commission also sanctioned Herrera for his behavior when Carreon-Beltran tried to have her other cases removed from Herrera’s court, claiming she couldn’t get a fair hearing before the judge. As evidence of bias, she cited the judge’s claim that she had participated in a break-in at one of his properties.”
So, this Judge keeps his own divorce case in his court for months, used tax payer money to hire lawyers to fight removal of cases from his court and accused his wife’s lawyer of a break-in. Oh, and he filed his campaign finance reports late in 2012. You tell us, Will of the Voters, what is say you now? We agree with the County Commissioners that funding for the defense of judges facing recusal should be removed from the budget, too bad they can’t take it away now.