Local 2 Investigates: County judge impeachment effort

The embattled Polk County district court judge is already under investigation

By Joel Eisenbaum - Investigative Reporter

POLK COUNTY, Texas - An embattled Polk County district court judge already under investigation by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct could be removed from public office by way of impeachment, Local 2 Investigates has learned.

State Rep. Harold Dutton (D-142), who represents Northeast Houston and Harris County, has authored a resolution to impeach Elizabeth Coker, 258th Judicial District Judge, for "conduct unbecoming a judge by violating the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct."

The resolution calls for a new investigation and impeachment proceedings.

Dutton believes Coker should be suspended from the bench during the investigation, according to the H.R. 106.

Coker has been under fire for an August 2012 courtroom incident where she allegedly texted a Polk County assistant district attorney from the bench and during a trial, suggesting a specific line of questioning.

So-called "ex-parte" communications are prohibited.

The defendant in that felony child abuse trial was not convicted. 

Local 2 Investigates showed the resolution to State Senators Dan Patrick and Rodney Ellis.

"I don't think you have to be a lawyer or a judge to look at this and say this doesn't feel right," said Sen. Patrick, a Republican representing parts of west and northwest Harris County. "No one would think this was a good idea for the judge to do."

"People have to have confidence in our judicial system and you simply cannot have a system where a judge presiding over a trial is text messaging questions to ask," said Sen. Ellis, a Democrat also representing parts of south, southwest and northeast Harris County said.

Former prosecutor and now district court judge, Kaycee Jones, has admitted and regrets her role in the incident, according to a letter Jones sent to the Texas State Bar. Click here to read that story.

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