SEX, LIES, and a BAILIFF
In the header image, City Controller Ronald Green and his wife, Justice of the Peace Hilary Green, arrive for the public swearing-in of Mayor Annise Parker in January 2010.
The couple later divorced in a rancorous proceeding.
The Harris County justice of the peace, Hilary Green, accused of paying prostitutes for sex, abusing drugs while on the bench and sexting a bailiff officially resigned this week – although her attorney says it has nothing to do with the claims against her.
Hilary Green had already been temporarily suspended by the Texas Supreme Court and was headed for trial next month to determine her judicial future. But on Tuesday – even as lawyers worked to prepare for the upcoming Austin court date – the long-time Precinct 7 jurist sent a letter to Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, announcing her decision to leave the bench.
“Effective immediately, please allow this letter to serve as my formal resignation from my position as Justice of the Peace, Precinct 7, Place 1,” Green wrote. “Due to the unexpected death of my father and my mother’s newly diagnosed illness, it is important for me to focus all my attention on my family.”
Green’s attorney, Chip Babcock, emphasized that his client’s departure was motivated solely by personal considerations.
“It is totally unrelated to the charges which she continues to deny and contest,” he told the Chronicle Thursday. The pending proceedings to unseat her – and lack of income, given her suspension without pay – took a toll on her, according to Babcock.
“She was looking at years of additional litigation,” he said. “It’s sad because all these allegations that her husband and former boyfriend leveled against her were known by the voters when they re-elected her by an overwhelming majority. It’s a very, very sad case.”
Now, it will be up to county commissioners to appoint a replacement.
“The Party thanks Hilary for her 11 years of service on the bench,” the Harris County Democratic Party said Thursday in a statement, also offering condolences for the death of Green’s father. “Our hope is the Harris County Commissioners Court will appoint someone who is a representation of the people and will serve with dignity and honor.”
The county Republican Party offered a decidedly different response.
“It is sad that Democrat JP Hilary Green waited until now to resign, long after her admitted drug abuse and other sordid conduct came to light,” said GOP County Chair Paul Simpson. “Thankfully, our Harris County Commissioners Court can now appoint a replacement JP who can faithfully administer the justice our citizens deserve.”
The laundry list of accusations against Green was fully revealed last year in a 316-page court filing by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct. The document outlined four separate judicial misconduct complaints lodged against her between 2012 and 2016, including accusations lobbed by former lover Claude Barnes, who claimed he and the judge had hired call girls together for three-way sex on at least two occasions.
In her response to the commission, Green admitted to many of the allegations, including illegally obtaining prescription drugs and using marijuana and ecstasy at the same time she was presiding over low-level drug possession cases involving minors in her court, the records show.
Another misconduct complaint, initiated by the commission itself, was based on broader allegations published by the Chronicle in a May 16, 2015 article that described claims made in by her ex-husband, former city councilman Ronald Green.
In divorce filings, Green alleged that the judge had previously lied to the state commission when they investigated her relationship with a convicted conman.
Their 2015 divorce proceedings also revealed a series of other accusations as Ron Green – then Houston’s second-highest-ranked political official – accused his wife of being a “longtime drug addict” who abuses prescription pills, violating laws by “driving under the influence” and “operates daily with impaired judgment as evidenced by her presiding over cases in which she has ongoing sexual relationships with litigants and witnesses.”
Hilary Green accused her now former husband of concealing assets, and He admitted infidelity in court documents.
Last May, the state commission put out its lengthy finding in favor of an immediate suspension, and in the summer the state Supreme Court approved that action.
Had her removal trial in Austin moved forward as planned in April, she could have faced years of appeals ahead, Babcock said.
In light of Green’s resignation, county commissioners are expected to appoint a replacement who will serve until November 2018. Voters in the November election will then decide on her successor. Her term would have expired in 2020.
The political parties will in the coming months determine which candidates will be on the ballot.
Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis will likely select the interim appointment.
“Commissioner Rodney Ellis will consult with community leaders and legal experts to select a qualified candidate,” an Ellis spokesman said. “He plans to have a candidate to submit to Commissioners Court for approval on April 10.”
A Houston judge who traded sexts with a bailiff and admitted to past drug use has been suspended from the bench pending resolution of ethics charges against her.
The State Commission on Judicial Conduct had sought the immediate suspension in a filing (PDF) that said Green had admitted to using marijuana and Ecstasy and misusing prescription cough syrup; admitted asking her bailiff to help her buy prescription cough syrup; and admitted sexually explicit communications with the bailiff. During the time of her drug use, she had presided over misdemeanor drug cases in her courtroom.
She was also accused by a former boyfriend of paying prostitutes for sex and of getting marijuana from court officers, who took it from a detainee. The commission said Green had also been deceptive in earlier communications with the commission.
The allegations had surfaced during a divorce and following her relationship with the boyfriend.
Green was appointed to the bench in 2007 and re-elected three times, most recently in 2016 after many of the allegations had been made public. “She’s very popular in the precinct,” Green’s lawyer, Chip Babcock, told the Washington Post.
Babcock said Green had stopped taking drugs in late 2013 or early 2014, and doctors have testified she is drug-free.