DWI case dismissed because judge listed as witness

Judge Kaycee Jones was at scene of DWI, issued blood draw

HOUSTON – A District Court judge, previously reprimanded by the Texas State Bar, is also the subject of a formal complaint to  the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct, Channel 2 Investigates has learned.

Judge Kaycee Jones was elected in 2012 to Texas 411th District Court. Jones is tasked with dispensing justice in felony criminal cases and child custody matters, among other duties, in San Jacinto, Trinity and Polk counties.

Channel 2 Investigates recently uncovered documents that showed a DWI case in which she issued a blood draw warrant had to be dismissed, because Jones was also listed as a witness in the case.

“Well, it was just unfortunate that the case had to be dismissed under those circumstances,” San Jacinto County Judge John Lovett said.

Lovett said he had no choice but to dismiss the criminal case, because the state’s primary piece of evidence was inadmissible.

“You can’t be a judge in a case where you’re a witness,” Brian Wice, a former judge and KPRC Channel 2 legal analyst, said.

On the night of April 20, 2014, Jones was the on-call magistrate during a DWI “No Refusal” weekend when she volunteered to ride-along with a DPS trooper, looking for DWI offenders.

Documents obtained by KPRC Channel 2 showed the trooper listed Jones as a witness to an arrest, while at the same time, she was charged with impartially determining whether blood should be drawn from the person stopped.

“District Court judges have no business sitting inside a DPS squad car on a ‘No Refusal’ weekend,” Wice said.

Jones declined KPRC’s interview request and offered no comment at the San Jacinto County Courthouse.

Also at issue is whether the judge specifically instructed the trooper to leave her name off the application for the blood draw warrant.

The trooper offered testimony on the matter during a motion to suppress evidence in the DWI case.

"She instructed you not to put her name as a witness?" the defense attorney asked.

"She told me she was not needed, so I didn’t list her," the trooper said.

Channel 2 Investigates has uncovered paperwork that showed at least one person has filed an official complaint with the Texas Commission on judicial conduct because of the matter.

The state panel looks into allegations of wrongdoing by judges. The panel conducts business largely out of the public eye, and most of the group’s investigative work is not subject to open records.

It is possible Jones could be disciplined to some degree without the public’s knowledge. Channel 2 Investigates has no evidence the judge has sustained any complaint against her.

But the Texas State Bar had previously disciplined Jones following an on-the-bench texting incident involving Jones and her predecessor, Elizabeth Coker.

Coker resigned her seat after it came to light that she had secretly texted Jones during a trial, and seemed to suggest the prosecution pursue a certain line of questioning.

In a 2013 apology letter to the Texas State Bar, she promised it would never happen again.

“I fully appreciate the importance of impartiality of a judge in a trial,” Jones wrote.