HOUSTON (CN) – A state appeals court judge was publicly reprimanded for calling Brazoria County officials “a bunch of backwoods hillbillies” because they jailed a friend’s teen-age daughter overnight.
The State Commission on Judicial Conduct issued a public reprimand to Jim Sharp, claiming he used his position to try to get a friend’s daughter out of Brazoria County jail after she was arrested on suspicion of shoplifting.
The girl was arrested on Jan. 17 and charged with stealing merchandise from a department store. The 15-year-old girl’s mother asked Sharp to get the girl out of jail, so she would not have to spend the night there, according to the commission’s report.
So Sharp made “several telephone calls Juvenile Detention,” and spoke to two officers on duty and the county’s assistant director of juvenile probation.
According to the commission’s report: “During his conversation with the Assistant Director, Justice Sharp referred to the possibility of Brazoria County being sued for failing to release the juvenile that night, stating: ‘[Y]our county is going to be sued for hundreds of thousands of dollars for this. You’ll have picked the wrong little girl that has friends in high places to mess with.’
“Justice Sharp also stated to the Assistant Director, ‘Well, I can tell you this, things are about to change in Brazoria County. You guys are a bunch of backwoods hillbillies that use screwed up methods in dealing with children and I can promise you this, things are about to change in Brazoria County.”
In its Findings of Fact, the commission also noted: “In voicemail and text messages to the District Judge and the County Commissioner, Justice Sharp made the following statements concerning a Juvenile Detention officer, who Justice Sharp accused of being ‘rude’ to him:
“a. The officer was the ‘most arrogant little prick [he] had ever talked to in [his] life,’ and that if he had met with the officer ‘in person,” the officer would have known that he ‘had visited.’
“b. lf he had spoken to the officer ‘in person,’ and if Justice Sharp had been in possession of a ‘baseball bat … that son of a bitch would have been cracked upside the head. Fucking little cocksucker.’
“c. ‘Brazoria County Juvie Folks are [not] just arrogant but ignorant. When an Appeals Court Justice calls and identifies himself and then they refer to me as “Mr.” Sharp, it bespeaks a fundamental misunderstanding of respect and pecking order!’
“d. ‘[S]ome county paycheck functionary … call[ing] me “rude” also is totally unacceptable and that stupid asshole need find [a] new job that never has him communicating with appellate court justices. Had I been there personally, it would have been damn ugly for him.'”
Brazoria County District Attorney Jeri Yenne filed a complaint against Sharp with the commission, and asked that he be recused from cases involving her county.
In its conclusion, the committee wrote: “Justice Sharp’s inappropriate and unseemly extra-judicial behavior, which was extensively documented in public records and by the media, fell far below minimum standards of judicial conduct and clearly cast public discredit upon the judiciary. In addition, Justice Sharp’s conduct, including his inappropriate and abusive treatment of Brazoria County employees, had the direct consequence of causing his recusal from all pending cases in which the Brazoria County Attorney’s Office is a party, thereby interfering with the proper performance of his judicial duties.”
The commission issued its 5-page ruling on Aug. 30, stating that Sharp’s behavior “fell far below the minimum standards of judicial conduct and clearly cast public discredit upon the judiciary.”
Brazoria County is south of Houston’s Harris County.
(The committee’s public reprimand of Sharp can be found by searching for “Sharp” on the CNS document link.)
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