A Polk County district judge is accused of sending text messages from the bench to an assistant district attorney to help bolster the prosecution's case during a trial, according to an investigator's report.Regrettably, this only came to light after the communications were discovered by an outsider - the prosecutors receiving these ex parte messages didn't report the judge on their own. Moreover, it appears to have gone on in other cases. The lead prosecutor, Beverly Armstrong "advised it was not the first time, as [assistant prosecutor Kaycee] Jones is in her ear all the time regarding information she believes to be given her by Judge Coker via text during trial," according to an investigator's report quoted by the paper. Pretty brazen, it seems.
State District Judge Elizabeth E. Coker declined to return phone calls to comment on the allegations laid out in a report by Polk County investigator David Wells.
Wells was Polk County District Attorney Lee Hon's criminal investigator when he made the report, but he now is a detective with the Angelina County Sheriff's Department.
After reviewing the report written five months ago, Hon issued a statement this week saying he had found no communications from Coker that had influenced a trial's outcome. He added that he expects the case to be reviewed by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct for possible ethical violations that could require disciplinary action against the elected judge.
Houston attorney Mark Bennett at Defending People claims such behavior is common among Harris County judges, declaring "On more than one occasion I’ve seen Harris County judges coaching prosecutors during breaks in trial." Bennett said he's less surprised at the "underlying contempt for the adversarial process" so much as the use of an "easily documented" means of communication. Experienced judges giving ex parte advice, he seemed to imply, would never leave a paper trail.
If the allegations are true, what are the odds the judge and/or the prosecutors involved will be sanctioned? Suggest betting lines for each in the comments.