I want to bring your attention to a case out of Polk County, significant not so much because of what happened, but because of the commentary on it.
A Judge Elizabeth Coker was caught texting pointers to prosecutors during a trial.
Not directly to the one prosecuting the case, but to another prosecutor, who helpfully wrote the text down on a piece of paper and passed it up.
Houston defense attorney Mark Bennett, over at the excellent blog Defending People, explains that a judge aiding the prosecution is not shocking; what’s shocking is that she did it in a way that could be tracked.
“In short, the judiciary acting as an adjunct to the prosecution shouldn’t surprise anyone. Elected judges identify with the state. There are very few who will decide close calls for the defense. There are many more who will bend over backwards to make sure the state wins.”
We don’t know what kind of contact Judge Ellis had with the prosecutors, but you may recall that he was willing to reverse a personal judgment call in favor of the prosecution at least once during the trial; no matter how much importance you assign to whether or not Jane Doe had seen a movie with a sex scene very similar to how she described her supposed assault, he does appear to be trying very hard to give assistance to the prosecutors in this instance:
I will admit, I tend to focus on the negative here; there may be a million judges making a million just and impartial decisions every day, but even one blatant instance of bias by someone like Elizabeth Coker overshadows and taints everything.