Friday, September 14, 2012 9:22 AM
Perkins, Tom; Bowers, Chris
Council Members; Council Assistants; Gonzalez, AC; Suhm, Mary
Questions regarding possible conflicts of interest of proposed municipal judgesGonzalez, Williams, and Logan
Mr. Perkins:The four judicial applicants who recently sued the City of Dallas for not beingreappointed are represented in their lawsuit by defense attorney Randall Scott.(
Timeteo Gonzalez, David Indorf, Ruth Logan, and Cheryl Williams v. Rawlings,et al.,
Case No. 12-09605-J.)News reports describe Mr. Scott as a “prominent traffic defense attorney,” and areview of Mr. Scott’s website indicates that his law practice is devoted almostexclusively to traffic tickets and class “C” misdemeanor cases which, as you areaware, are heard by Dallas’ municipal judges.Despite Mr. Scott’s specialty being traffic tickets, he nonetheless represents thefour judicial applicants/plaintiffs in their lawsuit against the city for alleged civilrights violations, appearing at one or more hearings on their behalf before aDallas County District Court. When asked about his involvement by
The DallasMorning News
, Mr. Scott stated, “I’m just a lawyer in the courthouse who sawsome bad stuff go down. When people are being wronged, I’m always happy totry to assist them.”The budget amendment approved earlier this week in a straw vote by sevencouncilmembers and the mayor reinstates three of the four plaintiffs by creatingnew positions for them in the 2012-13 City of Dallas Budget.Several questions arise:
What is the current status of the plaintiffs’ lawsuit? Has that suit beenwithdrawn? Have there been discussions with your office indicating that the suit willbe withdrawn pending final approval of the city budget (and their reinstatement)next week? Will the lone remaining plaintiff, David Indorf, continue the lawsuitregardless?
If the City Council votes to approve the budget with this amendment next week,will the three reinstated judges be required to recuse themselves from cases inwhich their attorney, Randall Scott, is representing defendants in their courtroom?
On this point, I spoke with Seana Willing, Executive Director of the StateCommission on Judicial Conduct, who referred me to the
Texas Code of Judicial Conduct,
Canon 2 “Avoiding Impropriety and the Appearance of Impropriety in All of the Judge’s Activities.”