A Harris County civil court judge has resigned amid several allegations of judicial misconduct, including showing bias or prejudice toward litigants and attorneys on the basis of race, sex or socioeconomic status, according to the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.
George Barnstone, of Harris County Civil Court at Law No. 1, was the subject of six complaints encompassing at least seven allegations of misconduct. Those also included claims he used his judicial office to advance his private interests and made appointments violating the Texas Government Code, which bars conflicts of interest, the resignation agreement states.
He signed the agreement on July 12, records show, and state commission Chair David Hall approved the decision Monday.
Judiciary Wants Billions to Spend on Waste. They Should be Saving $$ by Abolishing Senior Status https://t.co/Xa3rNGjsTU
— LawsInTexas (@lawsintexasusa) July 22, 2021
Other complaints — all listed in the agreement — alleged the judge didn’t comply with the law related to awarding attorneys fees or statutory interest post-judgment; failed to give a defendant their right to be heard; failed to treat attorneys with patience, dignity and courtesy; and failed to require and maintain order and decorum in court proceedings.
The state commission had not made any findings related to the complaints, and Barnstone’s resignation will take place instead of disciplinary action, the document reads. The resignation, however, is not an admission of guilt.
Barnstone won’t be able to run for judicial office or sit in a judicial capacity again, the agreement stipulates.
We won’t get a lot of details because the Commission will not make any findings due to the resignation, but all of this sounds bad. I found this story from 2019 while image searching, and that isn’t a good look, either.
I’ve known George Barnstone for a few years – he’s a genuinely affable guy – and he made at least one other run for judge before winning in 2016, but it clearly wasn’t a good fit. I’m sorry it came to this, but it’s the right call.
Because this is a County court and not a District court, County Commissioners will get to name a replacement, as they have done before in recent years. Between this and the forthcoming replacement of Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, they’ll have some big decisions to make.
I would assume they’ll have a new judge on the bench in a couple of weeks. Get your name in the hat quickly if you think it should be you.