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The criticisms surrounding the judicial system of texas

Share via Email Margaret Besen, 51, says that she was unfairly ruled against on multiple occasions by the judge in her divorce case. Alan Chin When Margaret Besen, a 51-year-old nurse from East Northport, Long Island, filed for divorce from her husband in March of 2010, she believed justice was on her side. Margaret and Stuart Besen, who agreed their marriage was beyond repair, would remain in their suburban Suffolk County house, living in separate rooms — and keeping away from each other — while sharing custody until a resolution could be reached.

But within weeks, the situation deteriorated. Stuart Besen, a politically connected attorney for the town of Huntington, had an anger problem, Margaret told authorities. So in August of that year she obtained an order of protection prohibiting Stuart from harassing her. They arrested him for violating the order, reporting that Stuart had stared down at Margaret with his arms folded on three consecutive nights.

What's The Deal With Texas' System Of Electing Judges?

She got temporary possession of the family home. Though she could never prove anything, she suspected that the scales had tipped for reasons unrelated to the evidence in her case. These links can be social — they may have been law school classmates or share common friends — political, financial or ideological. In some instances the two may have mutual investment interests. They might be in-laws. Occasionally they are literally in bed together.

A culture of judicial impunity

All too often, however, the conflicted jurist says nothing and proceeds to rule in favor of the connected party, while the loser goes off without realizing an undisclosed bias doomed her case. Some of the best-known cases involve judges who ultimately did suffer consequences for their behavior, including Texas judge Christopher Dupuy, who bullied four lawyers who filed conflict-of-interest recusal motions between 2011 and 2013.

But court critics say that one reason judicial violations are common is because they frequently go unpunished. The actions taken ranged from a letter of warning to censure, a formal sanction that indicates a judge is guilty of misconduct but does not merit suspension or removal.


Actually removing a judge was a rarity. Just 19 jurists in 12 states were ordered off the bench for malfeasance, which is about three per decade for each state. And even that result is becoming less common, with only one removal in 2014 and three in 2013 among all 12 states.

The states examined — California, Texas, New YorkPennsylvania, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Indiana, Minnesota, Colorado, Washington, Georgia and South Carolina — were chosen because they comprise a representative sample from different populations and areas of the country and because they had matching data for the years 2010 through 2014.

It did not suspend or remove a single judge in 2013 or 2014 and acted just once over the last five years, removing a sitting judge in 2012. Texas has not removed a judge in five years, though it has suspended 23 for varying lengths of time.

  1. The governor was empowered to convene the legislature in special sessions, to call out the militia to execute the laws, to suppress insurrections, to protect the frontier against hostile Indians, and to veto laws and items in appropriations bills; his veto, however, could be overridden by a two-thirds vote of both houses.
  2. They have no power of enforcement, no troops to carry out orders, no power of the purse.
  3. To promote the construction of new track, the document authorized the legislature to grant the railroads sixteen sections of public land for each mile of road constructed.
  4. Allegations against a judge are commonly kept confidential unless a sanction of some kind is imposed.

One discouraging factor is the secrecy under which these commissions operate. Allegations against a judge are commonly kept confidential unless a sanction of some kind is imposed. When conduct boards do act, the sanctions usually amount to an admonishment that may be embarrassing but costs the judge little. Among those still on the bench after ethical violations are Louisiana judge Robin Free.

Free oversaw a personal injury claim in 2010 by a man and his wife, Israel and Leslie Robles, who were hurt in an oil field run by Houston-based fracking contractor Integration Production Services, Inc. Raoul Felder, the well-known New York divorce attorney, served as a CJC board member between 2004 and 2008, helping the commission sift through thousands of complaints.

He came away from the experience perplexed by its decision-making. But only three judges were disciplined during those years and each got the mildest rebuke on the books: None was suspended or removed.

Nor did he act when Stuart honored only part of the support he owed, leaving Margaret, who was then unemployed, struggling to provide for her kids. It was extremely humiliating. Police and child protection service workers became involved.

  • What do other states do?
  • Several of those seats will be on the ballot this year;
  • That doesn't mean I have to agree with it.

Kent ordered her to undergo a psychological evaluation, which slammed Margaret as a danger to her children as she was allegedly alienating them from their father. No abuse by either parent was substantiated. Margaret won a court order of protection barring Stuart from contact with her children for a year. But when Kent issued his final decree less than six weeks later, he awarded Stuart full custody, while Margaret was allowed only supervised visits.

And he ordered Margaret to pay back half the cost of her nursing degree and to sell her diamond engagement ring and split the proceeds with Stuart. The judge also reversed the support arrangements. In 2010, Stuart was appointed as the Suffolk County representative on a statewide commission for vetting local judicial candidates. But her concern deepened when she made an additional discovery about her house. Kent had ordered the Besen home, the most valuable marital asset, to be sold and the proceeds divided, putting Margaret in line to receive possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Margaret was evicted from the house in 2013 and lives in a modest apartment a few miles away. She has yet to receive a penny for her interest in the property.

  • To support the university and its branches the constitution set aside one million acres of the public domain, with all sales and proceeds therefrom to be placed in a Permanent University Fund;
  • After the Supreme Court ruled that prisoners at Guantanamo Bay had the right to challenge their detentions in court, Bush said tersely, "We'll abide by the Court's decision.