Sunday, May 15, 2022
An admonishment has been imposed by the Texas Commission on Judicial Discipline for a judge's misconduct in a divorce trial
Throughout the trial, in open court, Judge Wells expressed irritation at both sides’ lawyers, including slamming a book on the bench, erupting in anger, using a harsh and sarcastic tone of voice, abruptly announcing recesses, and walking off the bench in frustration and anger.
On April 17, 2019, at or near the end of proceedings, Judge Wells ordered Attorney Teresa Waldrop (“Waldrop”) to his chambers for “a discussion” while the parties and other counsel remained in the courtroom.
On entering his chambers, Judge Wells cursed and then continued to use profanity to express his anger to Waldrop about the presentation of the case.
As the in-chambers discussion with Waldrop progressed, Judge Wells confessed that he had lost his temper and created an irreparable mess of the trial, conceding he was known to “have a bad temper” and stating, “the reality has – has come to me that I may not be suitable for this.”
Waldrop was frightened and intimidated by Judge Wells’ conduct in chambers and repeatedly asked to leave or have witnesses present. The in-chambers meeting nevertheless continued for more than an hour.
During the in-chambers meeting, Judge Wells expressed being “horrified by this”; wondered if he should “fling himself out the window”; and said he would “crawl under [his] desk.” During that time, Judge Wells also called another lawyer by telephone regarding the situation he had created.
At one point Judge Wells expressed that it would have been easier if Waldrop had come into his chambers and “fussed at him,” continuing, “Then we could have rolled around on the floor and strangled each other…”
Judge Wells later invited the parties and other counsel into his chambers, expressed his apologies for the situation and suggested some procedures to complete the trial.
Judge Wells recused from the case the day following the in-chambers events.
The commission ordered two hours of education as well. (Mike Frisch)