|Trinity Standard - Local News
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Pct. 3 JP given reprimand
Trinity Standard -
AUSTIN — Pct. 3 Justice of the Peace Bobby Nicholds of Trinity has been given a "public reprimand" by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct. The local JP was cited for "unethical conduct" in his handling of a case involving a personal friend. The incident involved the Feb. 5 arrest of a woman on a driving while intoxicated charge. The following day, Pct. 2 Justice of the Peace Bernie Beard was preparing to magistrate the woman and set bond. Nicholds, who shares an office with Beard in Trinity, asked if he could conduct the magistration instead. In magistrating the woman, Nicholds granted her a personal recognizance bond allowing her to be immediately released from custody. Noting that while Nicholds did nothing that violated state law, his actions in the matter "created the appearance and the reality that he was allowing his relationship with her to influence his judicial conduct and judgment." Nicholds has acknowledged that he asked to magistrate the woman – which basically means he read her her rights – and then granted the bond. He denied that at the time of the incident he was dating the woman but said she was a personal friend. "What I did may not have been ethical but it was not illegal. I did not then and have never done anything to violate the law," he said. He said he granted the personal recognizance bond because he knew the woman was not going to try to run. "The purpose of a bond is to make sure someone is going to show up for court," he said. "I have granted PR bonds in the past when I knew someone wasn't going to try to run. That's what I did it in this case." Nicholds, who has held the JP post for the past 19 years, has previously announced he will be retiring when his current term ends next year. In the reprimand, the state commissioner noted that in December 2011, it issued a public admonition to Nicholds for attempting to assist the same woman's daughter in a pending criminal matter. The commission noted that the 2011 disciplinary action for "similar conduct" was an aggravating factor in determining the level of discipline in this case.