HOUSTON (CN) – A Texas judge is facing a call for her suspension by a state ethics commission that claims she habitually bought prescription cough syrup on the black market, took marijuana that her bailiff seized from a defendant and paid female prostitutes for sex.
Hilary Green is a justice of the peace in Harris County with jurisdiction over minor misdemeanors punishable by up to a $500 fine, and civil matters with not more than $10,000 at stake.
She has presided over the court since June 2007 and retained the position through three elections, winning more than 80 percent of the vote in November 2016, despite media coverage of her nasty divorce from former Houston Controller Ronald Green that she filed for in April 2014.
The State Commission on Judicial Conduct filed a motion to suspend Green without pay with the Texas Supreme Court on Wednesday, a request largely based on the lurid testimony of her ex-lover Claude Barnes.
Green had a five-year extramarital affair with Barnes that ended in the autumn of 2015, according to Barnes’ deposition before the executive director of the judicial conduct commission.
Barnes admitted in the deposition he filed a complaint about Green with the commission in December 2015 out of spite because she led him to believe she wanted to have an exclusive relationship with him after she finalized her divorce, but caught her “cheating” and said she had “unprotected sex with numerous partners” behind his back.
“In January of 2010, I witness [sic] Judge Hilary Green smoke marijuana and illegally purchase Tussionex several times. Between 2011 I also witness her pay for sex from female escorts and consume the street drug ecstasy,” Barnes wrote in his complaint, using the brand name of the cough syrup he says Green became addicted to over the course of their fling.
Barnes said in his deposition that he got a bottle of cough syrup for Green six to eight times from 2010 to 2014, from his former coworker, who jacked up the price from $460 to $600 per bottle.
Barnes said Green initially told him she took a teaspoon of the syrup to help her sleep, but her usage steadily increased.
“At one point in time I just saw her turn the bottle up. There was no longer teaspoons. It was just a swig,” Barnes said in the January 2016 deposition.
According to the deposition, Green twice paid for female escorts off Backpage.com and she and Barnes had threesomes with the women at hotels in Houston and Austin, where Green was attending a conference for judges.
Barnes said in his deposition that Green once showed him a baggie of marijuana and told him she got it from her bailiff, who had taken it from a kid in her courtroom.
The commission states in its complaint to the Supreme Court that in response to ethics complaints, Green lied to it in 2014 and 2017 about her relationship with a convicted felon who remodeled her house, and that she had stopped taking cough syrup in 2013.
“Judge Green’s nature and frequency of misconduct and criminal activity in her own courtroom is incompatible with continuing to serve as a judge,” the motion to suspend states. “She not only misused Tussionex, but she illegally obtained and consumed marijuana and ecstasy with her former boyfriend, Claude Barnes. Judge Green also gave hundreds of dollars to her courtroom bailiff to purchase Tussionex for her.”
Green exchanged sexually charged text messages with the same bailiff, according to the commission, which faults Green for not reassigning the bailiff.
But Green’s attorney Chip Babcock with Jackson Walker in Houston told Courthouse News on Thursday she has no control over the bailiff.
“He doesn’t work for her and so she doesn’t have any personnel responsibility over him so she couldn’t fire him or reassign him if she wanted to,” he said.
Babcock said he will file Green’s response on June 2 with the Texas Supreme Court.
“We’re going to aggressively defend this,” he said, adding that he doesn’t believe many of the claims in the motion to suspend.
“They are in many respects untrue and in all respects they are from many years ago and they are the result of allegations made by her ex-husband in the context of a bitter divorce case, and allegations made by somebody who is admittedly angry and out to hurt her. So their credibility is not the best,” he said, talking about Barnes.
He said Green’s work is not the issue and voters agree.
“She has been an exemplary judge and was reelected in November of last year by a huge majority, over 80 percent of the vote, and won a contested primary in the spring so obviously the citizens of her precinct don’t think she’s doing a bad job,” he said.
The commission asked the Supreme Court to indefinitely suspend Green from the bench while its motion plays out, its executive director Eric Vinson said Thursday in a phone interview.
“This is the first step that they have to do before they can recommend to the Supreme Court to remove a judge,” he said.
Tussionex is a combination of the pain killer hydrocodone and chlorpheniramine, an antihistamine.