Texas Judge Censored for Remarks to Tea Party

     (CN) – A Texas ethics commission on Friday censured a state judge who told a Tea Party group he had a gun in his lap during a sex offender’s testimony “because the man was ‘way out there.'”
     State Judge Michael Seiler presides over the 435th Montgomery County District Court in Conroe, an hour north of Houston.
     The Texas Legislature created the court in 2007 to hear cases that determine whether repeat sexual offenders should be deemed “sexually violent ‘predators'” and put in halfway houses upon their release from prison, according to the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.
     The commission issued a public reprimand of Seiler on Friday for his comments about his job at a Texas Patriots PAC meeting, and his alleged mistreatment of defense attorneys from the State Counsel for Offenders Office, who represent sex offenders in his court.
     At the Texas Patriots meeting in April 2013 Seiler referred to the sex offenders who appear in his court as “psychopaths.”
     “Seiler explained that he is the only judge in Texas that regularly deals with people who are psychopaths,” the public reprimand states. “While making this presentation, Judge Seiler displayed a photo of the fictional serial killer ‘Hannibal Lecter.’
     “Judge Seiler described a trial involving a psychopath and told the audience that he kept a gun on his lap as he heard the testimony of this individual because the man ‘was way out there.'”
     Seiler also told the Texas Patriots that it was hard to find halfway houses for sex criminals since “Nobody wants them. We don’t want them in our community, right, so we’re trying to figure out where they want to put them,” the reprimand says.
     The commission says Seiler admitted he shouldn’t have showed the Tea Partiers photos of three sex offenders or discussed the specifics of their cases.
     Under one of the photos Seiler put the caption “cheerleader killer,” and told the group the defendant was a former high school player who had sexually assaulted four cheerleaders from the school, the ethics committee claims.
     Seiler has earned a reputation for being rude to the state’s defense attorneys. Since August 2014 defense attorneys have moved to have him recused 16 times, citing his biased comments to the Tea Party PAC and combative demeanor on the bench.
     Eight of those recusal motions were granted.
     The State Counsel for Offenders Office declined to comment on the reprimand.
     The document cites two instances in which Seiler threatened to throw defense attorneys from the state office out of his courtroom.
     Seiler’s attorney, Thomas Watkins with Husch Blackwell of Austin, said of the reprimind: “We think it’s unfair and will likely appeal it.” The ethics commission ordered Seiler to take four hours of instruction with a mentor judge and to concentrate on “the appropriate treatment of attorneys…avoiding bias…and avoiding extrajudicial conduct that casts doubt on a judge’s capacity to act impartially.”
     Seiler signs the sex offenders’ civil commitment orders and decides who will get out of the program. No one has been released from the program since it started in 1999, the Houston Chronicle reported.

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