Saturday, December 19, 2015

Federal Judge Walter Smith's Formal Reprimand

In a news story that has been greatly under-reported, Federal Judge Walter S. Smith was reprimanded by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals last week. From a story by Tommy Witherspoon of the Waco Tribune:
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has formally reprimanded U.S. District Judge Walter S. Smith Jr. after finding he made “inappropriate and unwanted physical and non-physical sexual advances” toward a court employee in his chambers in 1998.
Sounds much like the kind of accusation that got former Federal Judge Sam Kent indicted, and, eventually, cost him his lifetime tenured bench. In Judge Walter's Smith's case, if the physical and non-physical advances were not bad enough, he lied to investigators.
'The Judicial Council also finds that Judge Smith allowed false factual assertions to be made in response to the complaint, which, together with the lateness of his admissions, contributed greatly to the duration and cost of the investigation,' the order, signed by 5th Circuit Chief Judge Carl E. Stewart, says.
And the coup de grace:
The order of the Judicial Council also said that Smith 'does not understand the gravity of such inappropriate behavior and the serious effect that it has on the operations of the courts.'
Yet this does not seem to justify an impeachment recommendation according to the 5th Circuit: : 
In spite of finding that Smith’s conduct 'was in contravention of existing standards of behavior for federal judges,' the Judicial Council of the New Orleans-based federal appellate court concluded that his actions do not warrant a recommendation of impeachment.
And the person who stepped up to challenge this judge?
Smith has been under investigation for at least a year by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals after former Dallas attorney Ty Clevenger’s complaint that Smith made improper sexual advances toward a former courthouse employee in his chambers in 1998. His complaint included a sworn deposition from the woman detailing the alleged groping encounter and a certified letter she wrote the judge describing the adverse effects the incident had on her. 
Ty has been the object of much wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth. As a muckraker he has no equal. Ty has had his problems, but in this instance he has brought light to conduct worthy of condemnation. A Google search reveals a lack of media coverage of this newsworthy event. Neither The Bryan-College Station Eagle nor the local television station, KBTX, has reported the story, even though jurisdiction of the federal court Judge Walter Smith presides over extends south to Robertson County, well within their coverage area.

Thanks Ty.

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