Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Dupuy is at it again on the island

It seems that Judge Dupuy has been tilting at windmills once again down on the island. First he went after associate judge Suzanne Schwab-Radcliffe, alleging that there was an inherent conflict of interest in her sitting part-time as the associate judge in the 306th Judicial District Court and practicing family law in the county courts at law.

While many attorneys down on the island were beside themselves when Judge Dupuy went after her - for once he got it right. My dad use to tell me that even blind pigs find an acorn every once in a while. The State Commission on Judicial Ethics agreed with Judge Dupuy and issued an opinion that it wasn't proper for Ms. Radcliffe to continue to sit as a judge in Galveston County while litigating divorce cases in the county.

I know several traffic ticket attorneys who sit as judges both in Houston and some of the surrounding municipalities. Their contracts with those courts state that while they can continue to defend folks who are cited for traffic violations (and other Class C misdemeanors), they cannot take any cases in the jurisdiction in which they sit. And that makes sense.

Of course that wasn't Judge Dupuy's motive. It would appear that he has a romantic interest in a person who is involved in domestic litigation in Galveston County. He is also under criminal investigation for using county equipment to assist his paramour with her suit. It should be pointed out that he decided to run for the bench in order to disqualify then-judge Roy Quintanilla from presiding over his divorce trial.

His latest crusade is against Galveston attorney Lori Laird. Ms. Laird (click here for Ms. Laird's blog) had the audacity to file a motion seeking to recuse Judge Dupuy in a family matter (I'm sure the fact she represents the judge's ex-wife in a custody suit has nothing to do with it). Judge Dupuy took umbrage at the suggestion that he could not sit on the bench impartially and preside over a trial. Instead of agreeing to recuse himself or sending the motion to Olen Underwood, the administrative judge for the region, Judge Dupuy tried to cite Ms. Laird for criminal contempt.

Apparently Ms. Laird's motion "tended to disrespect authority." He also alleged that it was unprofessional and obstructed the court's ability to do whatever it is his court does. I just wonder if he's going to seek contempt citations against the District Attorney for prosecuting cases that have no business in a courtroom.

I have yet to figure out what rule Ms. Laird broke by filing the motion. He may not have liked the allegations and the insinuations in the motion, but that is hardly a legitimate reason to try to cite an attorney for criminal contempt.

The other day on the second floor of the Galveston County Courthouse (not that this means anything, but the second floor of the Harris County Jail houses the psychiatric ward), a circus hearing was held. For almost two hours, Judge Dupuy asked Ms. Laird's attorneys if they would defend, explain or apologize for the allegations made in Ms. Laird's recusal motion.

The antics in Court Three would be funny, except that there are people's lives at stake. The man sits on the bench because Republican voters in Galveston County couldn't care less who's running for office - provided they have an "r" after they name on the ballot. These god-fearing, gun-loving wingnuts didn't care that Mr. Dupuy was suspended from the practice of law at the time he was running for the bench. They didn't care that he had faced numerous complaints of being incompetent.

I once represented an indigent client in Judge Dupuy's court. I had investigated the case and discovered that the arresting officer had lied about the circumstances surrounding the arrest - and I had the goods to take him down on the stand. My client missed court one day and was picked up when his bond was forfeited. The judge, despite my being the man's attorney of record, signed an order appointing one of the lawyers working the jail docket to represent him. That attorney (and I use the word lightly) dutifully pled my client out without conducting any investigation. I found out when I went to file a motion in the case and was told it was a closed case.

I spoke with Ted Weems, the misdemeanor chief in Galveston (and a good guy to boot), and he agreed that my client was entitled to a new trial. I drafted up an agreed motion for new trial, Mr. Weems signed it and we presented it to Judge Dupuy. He looked at it and asked me what he was supposed to do with it. I told him he was supposed to sign it. He disappeared in his chambers and we waited 45 minutes until he reappeared and signed the order granting my client a new trial. I then showed the "smoking gun" to Mr. Weems who promptly dismissed the case.

Christopher Dupuy has no business sitting on the bench. And the longer he sits there, the more reasons he gives us.


Lori Elaine Laird- Illegitimi non carborundum said...

Paul- Mel Brooks couldn't have written a better skit than my "hearing" turned out to be... I just still find myself shaking my head in disbelief... you were one of the first one's out there to identify this guy as a problem. Now that the AG's office is involved, I can only hope that us victims of official oppression and abuse of office will get some relief... keep up the good work you are doing on your blog. You are identifying important issues on many fronts... :)

Paul B. Kennedy said...

Thank you for the kind words, Lori. I am terribly sorry you had to go through the ordeal you've had to down there.