Off-Color Remarks Put Texas Judge in Hot Water

     (CN) – A Texas judge who called a district attorney a “New York Jew” and said a prosecutor’s beard made him look like a Muslim was censured by a state judicial-ethics watchdog.
     Carter Tinsley Schildknecht presides over a state court in Lamesa, Texas, the seat of Dawson County. She was in court Monday morning and unable to comment on the reprimand, her secretary said.
     The Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct’s censure of Schildknecht today found that she called Gaines County District Attorney Michael Munk a “New York Jew” during a July 2014 conversation with Munk’s secretary in the judge’s office.
     Schildknecht reportedly explained the comment to Munk later that month, stating: “When I tell people why you [Munk] are different and have different thoughts, I explain because you are from New York and because you are Jewish.”
     The commission noted that Schildknecht said in a letter to it: “the statements were not made with bias or prejudice, or to disparage Munk; rather, the statements were an attempt by the judge to explain that Munk’s ‘background is that from a culture of a New York Jew,’ and that his approach and perspective ‘may be different from that of someone who has been reared in West Texas.'”
     The commission found that Schildknecht also violated the state’s “Open Courts” doctrine by having her bailiff block Munk from entering her courtroom on July 15, 2014.
     On this point, Schildknecht told the commission she didn’t see any reason for Munk to be in the courtroom that afternoon because “the business of the court had concluded.”
     Schildknecht also cited jail overcrowding in holding court from 1 p.m. on July 2, 2014, until 4 a.m. the next day without giving litigants any meal or bathroom breaks, the commission found.
     The commission likewise criticized Schildknecht for her remarks on a district attorney’s beard.
     “On September 30, 2014, at the conclusion of a criminal docket in her courtroom, Judge Schildknecht criticized an assistant district attorney about his beard by stating, ‘You look like a Muslim, and I wouldn’t hire you with it,’ or words to that effect,” the public reprimand states.
     Schildknecht told the commission she couldn’t remember saying that and admitted “she did not know ‘that there is a specific look of a Muslim.'”
     The commission ordered Schildknecht to take four hours of classes with a mentor about the open courts rule and the need to recognize and eliminate bias.

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