GALVESTON — A judge on Tuesday dismissed five criminal charges — two felonies and three misdemeanors — against a county court judge accused of abusing his office to harm or retaliate against family law attorneys.
The hearing Tuesday at the Galveston County Justice Center, however, involved only seven of the 11 charges against Judge Christopher Dupuy, who was suspended without pay from County Court at Law No. 3.
Although Dupuy still faces six other felony and misdemeanor charges, he left the courtroom smiling Tuesday afternoon with his defense attorneys Adam Banks Brown and M. Fox Curl.
Judge Ryan Patrick, who was assigned to preside over Dupuy’s criminal charges, issued a gag order that prevents the parties from discussing most aspects of the cases with the media.
Two charges stand
The cases Patrick dismissed pertained to allegations, lodged by the state through charges of official oppression and abuse of official capacity, that Dupuy harmed family law attorneys Lori Laird, Greg Enos and Suzanne Schwab-Radcliffe. The attorneys filed motions seeking to have Dupuy removed from cases. Dupuy filed orders that sought jail time and fines for Laird, $26,000 in fines for Enos and to remove Schwab-Radcliffe from a family law case.
Patrick let stand two misdemeanor indictments of official oppression, which accuse Dupuy of subjecting Laird and Schwab-Radcliffe to mistreatment that Dupuy knew was unlawful while acting as a public servant.
Brown argued that none of Dupuy’s acts broke judicial immunity. In order to break the immunity, the state would have to show Dupuy committed a nonjudicial act and that the act was absent of all jurisdiction.
“You don’t prosecute someone because you don’t like them,” Brown said. “We don’t do that.”
Brown claimed Dupuy could not be deprived of his immunity because of an error or malicious or corrupt acts.
“Judges are immune from criminal prosecution for acts performed in their official capacity, period,” Brown said. “No courts have allowed criminal prosecution for a judge acting in jurisdiction.”
David Glickler, an assistant attorney general, is prosecuting Dupuy’s criminal charges. Glickler told Patrick that when Dupuy was recused from cases, he then lost jurisdiction, which pierced his judicial immunity. Glickler also accused Dupuy of exercising outside his jurisdiction his bullying power from the bench and subjecting lawyers to harassment, harm, public humiliation and the loss of time and money.
‘He’s committing a crime’
“When he’s violating the law, he’s not committing a judicial act,” Glickler said. “He’s committing a crime. That’s what this case is about.”
Glickler also told Patrick that the case was of monumental importance.
“It would send a message to every judge in the state, in the country, that judges can do absolutely no wrong from the bench,” Glickler said.
Patrick, in making his ruling, said the remedy in the dismissed cases was not a criminal action. Patrick also said there was no case law on the matters and invited both sides to appeal his decision to one of the Houston appellate courts. Both sides were expected to appeal.
No more motions
Patrick also ordered Dupuy to stop filing motions on his own behalf and to abide by the gag order. Patrick accused Dupuy of editorializing in his motions as a way of working around the media control order.
Dupuy still faces charges that were not part of Tuesday’s hearing, including two felony counts of aggravated perjury and two misdemeanor counts of abuse of official capacity.
Dupuy also faces a civil suit, brought by attorney Greg Hughes on behalf of the attorney general’s office, seeking his permanent removal from the bench.