Dallas Judge Reprimanded for Shaming Jury, Intervening in Relative's Case

Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct issues reprimand after investigation

A Dallas County judge has been reprimanded for using her influence to intervene in a relative's criminal case and for shaming jurors in a separate trial.

Judge Teresa Hawthorne of Dallas County's 203rd Judicial Court violated rules in both cases, according to a public reprimand by the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct released last week.

In September 2014, Hawthorne contacted a judge in Lubbock and asked that a warrant for her nephew's arrest be withdrawn, the commission said. Hawthorne later testified as a character witness in his behalf. The commission did not detail his criminal case.

In a separate case over which she presided in October 2016, Hawthorne told jurors she was troubled by their sentence of 99 years for a man they had convicted of aggravated sexual assault, the commission said.

"I am disturbed by the way you came back with such a harsh verdict and sentence for this man's life in such a short time," one juror quoted her as saying. "Did you even discuss the details of the case at all?"

In intervening in her nephews's case, the commission said Hawthorne violated a code which says, "A judge shall not lend the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of the judge."

In the sexual assault case, the commission ruled the judge "failed to treat jurors with patience, dignity and courtesy when she shamed and reprimanded them for their verdict."

The judge did not immediately return a phone call and email seeking comment.

But according to the commission, Hawthorne admitted that she told the jurors she would have found the defendant not guilty but denied the other comments and said she "never intended to upset anyone."

She also denied speaking with the Lubbock judge about her nephew's case, according to the commission, but acknowledged she testified at his revocation hearing without being subpoenaed.

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