HOUSTON – Earlier this year, the State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished the judge who presided over the case of “Jenny,” a mentally ill rape victim who was placed in jail.
Judge Stacey Bond appealed the commission’s findings to what is known as a Special Court of Review. The Texas Supreme Court’s chief justice chooses three justices to preside over these courts, which is the process by which commission findings are appealed.
"The judge is the one whose opinion matters," said KPRC legal analyst Brian Wice. “What you sign has no margin for error and a period, or comma, or phrase can make all the difference in the world."
Wice said the state admonishment of Bond is a mark on an otherwise stellar career. He adds what happened in Jenny's case should serve as a cautionary tale.
Channel 2 Investigates reported extensively on how a mentally ill rape victim was placed in jail to ensure her testimony against her rapist. Jenny suffered a mental breakdown during her first round of testimony. At the urging of prosecutors, Bond then signed an order to have Jenny taken into custody until she could complete her testimony. Jenny was at first taken to a hospital for treatment, then sent to the Harris County jail.
As KPRC has reported, Jenny got into fights with another inmate and guard. Some members of the jail’s staff were also confused as to whether Jenny was a victim or a defendant.
When upholding the Judicial Conduct Commission's original findings, the Special Court of Review wrote, “We conclude that Judge Bond made an egregious legal error and failed to act in a manner that promotes confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.”
The justices also noted during her appeal, "Judge Bond agreed on cross-examination that Ms. Doe was denied due process of law,” The court also pointed to a piece of testimony from Bond, in which she said, “I think the -- it was a perfect storm that denied her the due process.”
"That's merely a mitigating factor, I don't think it's an explanation," Wice said.
Jenny is suing Harris County and her attorney, Sean Buckley, believes Bond was duped by overzealous prosecutors.
“I regret that Judge Bond has been sanctioned, and continue to believe she was an unwitting participant in this horrible incident,” Buckley wrote in a statement to KPRC.
Wice contends it was Bond's responsibility to fully understand the order she signed.
"That to me ought to be the teaching moment in this case, that a really, really good judge had a really, really bad day and what happened was a rape victim spent 28 days in custody and for that somebody had to answer," Wice said.
KPRC tried to speak with Bond and her attorney, but did not receive a response.
The public admonishment of the judge does not affect her legal license and she is free to seek re-election to the bench. The prosecutor in Jenny’s case, Nick Socias, was fired after Kim Ogg defeated then District Attorney Devon Anderson during her bid for re-election. Sheriff Ron Hickman also lost his bid for re-election.
Following our reports, state law was changed to provide greater protections for witnesses of crimes who are taken into custody to ensure testimony.