Friday, May 25, 2018
A censure and suspension without pay of a judge has been approved by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.
The stipulated facts are as follows. While Cagle was a member of the drug court team over which the Judge presided, the Judge and Cagle engaged in an undisclosed sexual relationship. Their sexual encounters began in November, 2016, and continued until July, 2017. From November, 2016, until March, 2017, while Cagle was an active member of the drug court team, Cagle and the Judge had sexual encounters both in Cagle's home and on several occasions in the Judge's lobby. Before or after some of their sexual encounters, they would have general discussions regarding the operation of the drug court. They also communicated about a particular defendant, although the Judge appears not to have taken any action in response to Cagle's request regarding that defendant. During some of the time period covered by their affair, the Judge attempted to mediate problems between Cagle and other members of the drug court team. The final sexual encounter between the Judge and Cagle was in July, 2017, by which time Cagle was no longer on the drug court team. The Judge used his official electronic mail (e-mail) account to communicate with Cagle and facilitate one of the sexual encounters.
The Judge admitted that Cagle participated in discussions regarding admission into drug court, referral for treatment, and termination from drug court during his undisclosed extramarital relationship with her. He also admitted that he and Cagle engaged in general discussions regarding the drug court before or after their sexual encounters. We have no doubt that the Judge's undisclosed sexual relationship with a member of his drug court team raises, at the least, the appearance of inappropriate influence and partiality his decisions regarding drug court participants and thus puts the integrity of the drug court during his leadership into question. Further damaging respect for his office, the Judge used his lobby in the court house for at least several of their sexual encounters, reflecting complete disrespect for the dignity and decorum of the court. He also used his court email account to communicate with Cagle, including communicating on a strategy to ensure that their text messages would not be seen by his family. It is beyond dispute that these egregious, deliberate, and repeated acts of misconduct severely diminished respect in the eyes of the public not only for this judge but also for. the judiciary.
As noted above, the Judge's performance evaluations suggest that he has been a conscientious judge who consistently received very positive ratings from attorneys, court employees, and jurors. The Judge's misconduct, however, is serious, and his prior positive evaluations cannot repair the damage to the judicial system caused by his grave,wilful, and repeated wrongdoing. The Judge's unwillingness to abide by the standards imposed on his office brought the office of the Judge, and by extension, the judiciary, into disrepute...
we conclude that Judge Estes shall be and hereby is publicly censured, and that effective June 15, 2018, he shall be suspended without pay indefinitely or until further order of this court, and it is so ORDERED.
From WBUR News
Tammy Cagle, who worked on the drug court where Estes sat, has accused him in a federal lawsuit of pressuring her into performing oral sex on him and then pushing her out of the drug court when she tried to end the relationship.
Estes says their relationship was consensual and denies harassing Cagle or playing a role in her losing her job. He says that Cagle initiated their first encounter and was the one who wanted to continue their relationship.
The Boston Globe reported today that he has resigned. (Mike Frisch)