A once heard a great lawyer talk about how a jury is smart enough to know that the prosecutor is there to try and persuade them to their side, the defense attorney is there to persuade them to their side, and the only person that they can trust is the Judge. When I heard this, I pretty much agreed, because I was drawing from my knowledge of the County Judges in Travis County, Texas. It Travis County, Defense Attorneys can and do make it on the bench. This is not the case in all counties, and in fact many lower court judges are not even licensed attorneys in Texas.
I mention this because it was recently reported in the Houston Chronicle that a Judge Coker has resigned due to a texting controversy. That controversy involves a sitting District Judge in Trinity, Polk, and San Jacinto Counties texting questions to an Assistant District Attorney to relay to the Prosecutor in the middle of trial.
Other news outlets have voiced their disgust for this type of behavior, but it holds a special area of hatred for this Defense Attorney for many reasons. The job of a Criminal Defense Attorney is to push back against the system, but it is often one of mitigating damages. That job is hard enough when you don’t have any facts on your side, which is often the case. That job is also harder when you think about the enormous amount of resources used to gather facts and evidence against defendants. That job becomes even more difficult when you have someone on the bench, someone that the jury trusts, acting like an advocate for the state.
It is this lawyer’s opinion that this judge should not only resign, but should face public discipline for her actions, so that it is known that this type of behavior is not allowed in Texas.