Many lay persons have this idyllic view of the judicial system that judges are sober, thoughtful and the jury members even more so. But, judges and jury members are human, after all. Indeed, many members of the jury, like many citizens at large, are skeptical about claims of discrimination. Judges are no different. In fact, some judges are harassers themselves. Judge Sam Kent in Houston was forced out as judge after he harassed two female clerks. That investigation lasted years. I wrote about that legal odyssey here and here.
Judge Walter Smith in Waco has also been found guilty of harassing a female deputy clerk. In 1998, he groped and tried to kiss an unidentified female deputy clerk. See Austin American-Statesman report. Judge Smith has been serving as judge since 1984. Now, he has been sanctioned in the sense that he will not be assigned any new cases for a year. See San Antonio Express News report. It was just a few years before 1998 when he granted a motion for summary judgment in one of my cases. I do not recall the details. I only recall that he seemed to take some delight in granting the motion against my client, thinking perhaps that our case was frivolous.
It is one thing to have a judge who is skeptical about discrimination cases. It is another thing entirely to have a judge who himself harasses members of a minority.
1998 is too far back for any clerk to file a discrimination complaint. It is far too late to file any sort of civil action. In fact, the lawyer who filed the complaint regarding Judge Smith only learned about the harassment as part of his own legal problems. Judge Smith had granted sanctions against a lawyer for allegedly filing a frivolous lawsuit. As part of defending himself, the lawyer, Ty Clevenger, deposed that deputy clerk and learned about the harassment. See ABA Bar Journal report.
Judges are human, too. Our legal system is flawed. Some clients refuse any settlement discussions. They do so at their peril.