Texas Judge Blames Low Blood Sugar for Tirade Against Lawyer, Defendant
“This was wrong, and I am sorry. I have struggled over the past year over why I would act in such a manner, and have come to the conclusion that I was having ‘low blood sugar’ episode caused by my Type 1 Diabetes,” wrote Comal County Court-at-Law No. 1 Judge Randy Gray of New Braunfels.
Comal County Court-at-Law No. 1 Judge Randy Gray of New Braunfels received a public warning for an in-chambers tirade against a criminal-defense attorney, who had switched a client’s case from the plea docket to the jury docket.
According to the public warning, released by the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct, attorney Stefanie Collins was representing a man charged with possession of marijuana. The defendant was initially planning to enter a plea agreement, but later changed his mind. His attorney then appeared in Gray’s court in March 2018, asking for the defendant’s case to be placed on the jury docket.
Collins was told she needed to confer with Gray first. And back in the judge’s chambers, Collins perceived that Gray was angry at her client for changing his mind and wanting a jury trial. The warning said that Collins’ recalled Gray saying that he would allow the withdrawal of the plea, but that he was going to put the man in jail for “for wasting the court’s time.”
“Unless he gets a ‘not guilty,’ he should expect to go to jail for 10 days,” the warning recounts about Gray’s statement. “If the jury gives him 30 days, I will give him 40. If he pleads, he’s going in for at least 10 days as a condition.”
‘I have struggled over the past year’
Gray, who didn’t return a call seeking comment, told his court coordinator to make a note to give the client 10 days in jail. And there is a handwritten note on a case reset form that says just that, the warning said.
When he responded to the complaint before the judicial conduct commission, Gray denied saying he’d give the man 10 days in jail, or telling his court coordinator to write a note. He denied knowing who wrote the note at all, and suggested it was another person.
Yet the coordinator confirmed it was her own handwriting, and she had written the note because the judge told her to do so, the warning said. Later, Gray told the commission that the coordinator’s memory had changed. She gave a written statement to the commission saying she had written the note, but she wasn’t sure she was supposed to write it, or why she had done it.
Later, though, Gray confessed that he behaved badly towards Collins by threatening to put a defendant in jail for asking for a jury trial, according to the warning.
“This was wrong, and I am sorry. I have struggled over the past year over why I would act in such a manner, and have come to the conclusion that I was having ‘low blood sugar’ episode caused by my Type 1 Diabetes. This is not an excuse, but rather, an explanation,” Gray wrote to the commission, according to the warning.
When he appeared in person before the commission, Gray said his diabetes was inadequately controlled at the time, but since then, he’s taken steps to manage his medical condition during times he’s performing judicial duties.
The commission determined that Gray had violated judicial ethics rules that required him to comply with the law, maintain professional competence in the law, and perform his duties with no bias or prejudice.
It also found he had violated provisions in the Texas Constitution that prohibit him from willful or persistent conduct inconsistent with a judge’s duties, which include his lack of cooperation with the judicial conduct commission.