HOUSTON (CN) – The Texas Supreme Court suspended a justice of the peace without pay for allegedly lying to a state ethics commission about her abuse of prescription cough syrup.
Hilary Green is a justice of the peace in Harris County, Texas with jurisdiction over misdemeanors punishable by up to a $500 fine and civil matters with not more than $10,000 at stake. Traffic cases and evictions are the most common cases on her docket.
She had 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, 2014 divorce from former Houston Controller Ronald Green.
The Texas Supreme Court suspended Green from office without pay on Friday with a one-page order.
It came in response to a request to suspend Green that the State Commission on Judicial Conduct filed in May. The commission is now preparing for a civil trial in which it will argue that Green should be permanently removed from office.
Green’s attorney, Chip Babcock, of Jackson Walker in Houston told local media on Friday he was disappointed the state Supreme Court didn’t grant his request for a hearing.
Babcock said in court filings that Green’s alleged misconduct happened years before her November reelection, and Texas law “prohibits removal when the conduct predates an election where the voters knew about the alleged transgressions and ‘forgave’ the officeholder.” (see attached Hilary Green response, pg. 1 into 2)
The state judicial watchdog began investigating Green in 2012 in response to an ethics complaint.
It claims she 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.
The commission included a deposition of Green’s former lover, Claude Barnes, in its 316-page motion to suspend Green in which Barnes lays out the gritty details of her alleged drug abuse and affinity for group sex.
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 January 2016 deposition he filed a complaint about Green with the commission in December 2015 out of spite because she told him she wanted to have an exclusive relationship with him after she finalized her divorce, but she had “unprotected sex with numerous partners” behind his back.
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.
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 told Courthouse News in May 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,” Chip Babcock said.
Babcock told the Houston Chronicle on Friday the Supreme Court’s decision blindsided him and questioned whether the court considered Green’s side of the story, given that it provided no explanation in its one-page order.
“The Supreme Court’s order is very disappointing and it is surprising that on the face of the order it does not appear that they considered Judge Green’s response to the request for temporary suspension. We are still looking into that issue and will determine what steps Judge Green takes when we have concluded our investigation,” he told the Chronicle.