Thursday, October 24, 2013

Former prosecutor, now a judge, embroiled in Elizabeth Coker texting scandal

Following Polk County District Judge Elizabeth Coker's resignation in the wake of revelations that she'd texted advice to prosecutors during trials, the prosecutor in the watershed case, Kaycee Jones, who was since elected to a judgeship, also finds herself in hot water, AP reported Oct. 23. In a letter to the state bar's disciplinary counsel:
Jones acknowledged passing along the texts, designed to bolster the prosecution's case, to the lead prosecutor during a child abuse trial. "It was wrong and I knew better," she wrote.

Jones' name was prominently mentioned three times in Coker's resignation agreement. The signed document refers to the so-called "texting and judging" incident as well as allegations of other improper communiques and meetings between Jones and Coker involving additional cases that were not specified.

Her then-boss, Polk County District Attorney Lee Hon, said he was only aware of one incident involving a child abuse case that ended with a not-guilty verdict. He said he chastised Jones for acting inappropriately, and she had promised that it would not happen again.

Hon said he has since cooperated with the commission and the bar association investigations.
Added the Chronicle:
Neither the judicial commission nor the bar's grievance committee will acknowledge or comment on pending investigations.

But Cecil Berg and Laura Prigmore, attorneys who have pending complaints against Jones, said they have been told by investigators the Jones investigation was shelved until Coker's was resolved but now it will move forward. Prigmore said a grievance committee hearing on Jones is slated for March 21.
MORE: From Simple Justice.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am amazed and disgusted at corrupt officers of the court receiving immunity for their transgressions. Especially in Texas! Both of these women should be removed in disgrace.

Front row seat said...

Coker did not receive immunity. You might compare her resignation conditions to deferred adjudication - if she doesn't meet the conditions, the Commission on Judicial Conduct will move forward with their allegations (which, given the amount of evidence they have, won't take much effort). There are three other entities that can take action against her - the State Bar of Texas (SBOT) (which already has received multiple complaints against her as well as all the info from the Commission being forwarded to them), the Office of the Attorney General could file charges for jury tampering, and the Feds could follow up with civil rights violations. Just wait until everyone that Coker locked up comes forward asking for a new trial.

Kaycee Jones will go in front of the SBOT on Friday, March 11, 2014 at 9:00 a.m. at the Montgomery County Law Library. Not sure if this is open to the public, but I will keep Grits readers up to date on that. Additionally, in her short tenure as District Judge (January 2013 to the present), she has also racked up at least 3 complaints to the Commission. She thought she could do what Coker did for 14 years and get away with it. She didn't even make it 12 months.

Rest assured, this is not over. Many people are glad that Coker is gone (ecstatic even), but are still very angry over what these two judges and the Polk County DAs did or allowed others to do.

Front row seat said...

Coker did not receive immunity. You might compare her resignation conditions to deferred adjudication - if she doesn't meet the conditions, the Commission on Judicial Conduct will move forward with their allegations (which, given the amount of evidence they have, won't take much effort). There are three other entities that can take action against her - the State Bar of Texas (SBOT) (which already has received multiple complaints against her as well as all the info from the Commission being forwarded to them), the Office of the Attorney General could file charges for jury tampering, and the Feds could follow up with civil rights violations. Just wait until everyone that Coker locked up comes forward asking for a new trial.

Kaycee Jones will go in front of the SBOT on Friday, March 11, 2014 at 9:00 a.m. at the Montgomery County Law Library. Not sure if this is open to the public, but I will keep Grits readers up to date on that. Additionally, in her short tenure as District Judge (January 2013 to the present), she has also racked up at least 3 complaints to the Commission. She thought she could do what Coker did for 14 years and get away with it. She didn't even make it 12 months.

Rest assured, this is not over. Many people are glad that Coker is gone (ecstatic even), but are still very angry over what these two judges and the Polk County DAs did or allowed others to do.

Anonymous said...

These two Judges as well as the prosecutors in Polk county who acted so cavalierly in prosecuting in a now documented biased system deserve to now suffer the same distress they inflicted on their innocent victims. This should give voters pause about putting prosecutors on the bench so they will be tough on crime. Judges need to make sure both sides follow the law and realize that they don't have a dog in the hunt or legitimate interest in the outcome of a jury trial. Their only interest is to insure that the process is fair and consistant with the law. Too many judges feel that an acquittal is a failure on their part, probably because too many continue to internally identify as the prosecutor they once were even after the role should have changed. The criminal justice system is supposed to presume innocence and honor exclusionary rules of evidence. Judges who only give lip service to this presumption and easily disregard this entitlement due to bias or because they have become privy to evidence which should be suppressed, need to reconsider their fitness and follow the law or resign. I have been on the wrong end of denied suppression hearings too many times and watched too many others where judges bias toward the prosecution causes them to "believe" prosecution witness testimony even when it is contradicted by credible testimony and hard evidence demands suppression because of laws being broken to obtain evidence. They cut state witnesses so much slack in laughable assertions that it is shameful. Voters should ask themselves if they were charged with a crime they did not commit, would they rather have a judge who had been a career prosecutor or someone a little more likely to accept reasonable doubt and presumption of innocence based properly admitted reliable evidence. Coker, Jones and their prosecutor accomplices deserve to lose their licenses and try their hand making a living where they can't prey on the public with their lack of ethics and disregard for the law, justice and fair play. By the way Judge Harmon in Harris County has reportedly engaged in similar behavior during trial except that he did not bother to use a texting device, he just spoke directly to the prosecutors giving them advice on how to counter a defense attorney's points. Obvious appearance of bias and refused to recuse himself when caught. Defense still won an acquittal so no harm was done, but how many trials have gone the otherway because of his bias?

Anonymous said...

Hoping that Jones will either resign or be removed. How can she possibly serve on the bench? Please keep us posted.

Anonymous said...

Rumor has it that now Coker is going to run for District Attorney. Unbelievable.

Anonymous said...

It is TRUE. Elizabeth Coker has announced her candidacy for Polk County District Attorney.

Anonymous said...

When Coker wins DA, which is likely with the political machine she has, then DA Coker can text Judge Jones to continue to screw Justice for those unfortunate souls who have to be in Jone's court....Pinewoods justice Clusterf...

Anonymous said...

Any word about Jones' hearing?