I got a text message last week from a friend of mine who is involved in the legal profession in another part of the state.
Normally when he and I talk (or text) it’s about college football or when he and his family might be planning to visit Galveston.
This particular text message, however, simply read:
“What the hell is going on with your judges in Galveston?”
Which is the same question a lot of people locally are asking in light of the controversy involving County Court Judge Christopher Dupuy and District Court Judge Susan Criss.
Criss claims individuals who work at the courthouse consider Dupuy a safety threat and sent an email to that effect to county commissioners recently asking they take appropriate measures to ensure the courthouse is safe.
“Courthouse employees and attorneys are discussing numerous accounts of erratic behavior and mood swings,” Criss wrote. “Media accounts are describing his behavior as bizarre.”
Dupuy, for his part, has denied Criss’ assertions, calling her a “political nutcase” and an “embarrassment” and threatening to sue The Daily News if it published the story.
These are but the latest concerns involving Dupuy, who has been no stranger to controversy since being elected to the bench as part of the local Republican landslide in the 2010 general election.
In fact, Dupuy was under a six-month probated suspension from the Texas Bar Association when he ran for election. The bar found he had committed professional misconduct.
Not long after taking office, questions began to surface over whether Dupuy even met the residency requirement to qualify for placement on the Republican Party primary ballot in Galveston County.
Dupuy has also been named in a $500,000 fraud and malpractice lawsuit that accused him of engaging in conduct that resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars of damages against his own clients. A judge sanctioned Dupuy $7,500 in connection to that lawsuit, saying he filed motions solely for the purpose of delay and without evidence.
Earlier this month, Dupuy held an attorney in contempt in connection with motions she filed seeking to recuse the judge from her family law cases. Dupuy ultimately recused himself from one case but held her in contempt and wants an administrative judge to sentence her to 110 days in jail.
Additional complaints against Dupuy, including one accusing him of possibly abusing his official capacity, were recently forwarded to the state attorney general’s office from the Galveston County District Attorney’s Office.
While you could certainly make the argument the allegations from Criss could be politically motivated (Dupuy is a Republican on the ropes, and Criss is a high-profile Democratic), it’s hard to imagine all of the allegations that have been made against Dupuy since he took office have a political agenda behind them.
Just over a year ago, Editor Heber Taylor wrote an opinion piece for the newspaper saying Dupuy should resign from the bench due to the controversy surrounding his relatively brief tenure.
Dupuy has done very little since then to change our position on that. In fact, we feel more strongly than ever that he should resign for the good of the county.