|Corrigan Times - Local News
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District Judge Jones given a public reprimand
LIVINGSTON— The 2012 judicial texting scandal continued to haunt the Polk County's judiciary when 411th District Judge Kaycee Jones of Livingston was given a "public reprimand" earlier this month for her part in the incident. In an agreed judgment issued May 5 by the State Bar of Texas' Grievance Committee, the judge was cited for professional misconduct under the Texas Rules of Disciplinary Procedure. At the time of the April 2012 incident, Jones was serving as a Polk County assistant criminal district attorney. According to the agreed judgment, which was signed by Jones, she engaged in "ex parte communications with (258th District) Judge Elizabeth Coker during a jury trial." At the time, Coker was presiding over a criminal trial involving an injury to a child charge and on April 7, 2012 sent a text message to Jones from the bench. Jones was in the courtroom as an observer and was not taking part in the prosecution of the case. "(Jones) then engaged in exparte communications with Judge Coker when she answered the texts and continued to text with Judge Coker. Additionally, on Aug. 8, 2012, (Jones) received more texts from Judge Coker and again engaged in ex parte communications. "Moreover, one of the texts from Judge Coker suggested a line of questioning for the prosecutor. (Jones) then handwrote a message which contained Judge Coker's text verbatim and had it delivered to the prosecutor during the trial," the judgment said. In addition to the reprimand, Jones will be required to pay $650 to cover the attorney fees incurred by the State Bar's counsel. Under the Texas Rules of Professional Conduct, except in specifi c instances allowed by law, judges and attorneys are only allowed to communicate about a pending case when both sides are present – meaning attorneys for both the prosecution and defense. Ex parte (Latin for "from one party") means that only one side was represented. When contacted last week, Jones declined to comment. However, in a letter to the State Bar, she admitted her involvement in the matter and issued an apology. "I deeply regret that I acted in this manner. It was wrong and I knew better," she wrote. At the time of the incident, Jones was a candidate for her current post, the 411th District Judge's offi ce, which she won in November of that year and took offi ce on Jan. 1, 2013. Her judicial district includes Polk, Trinity and San Jacinto counties. Other fallout from the August 2012 texting scandal came in December 2013 when Coker resigned after reaching an agreement with the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, which was investigating the incident. In that agreement, the commission made no fi nding of fault and Coker made no admission of guilt. However, in exchange for the judge's resignation, the commission agreed to drop their investigation.