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Family Court Judge Presided Over His Own Divorce

Clarkston Legal March 25, 2016

Just when, really, we thought we had seen it all, here comes this report out of Texas. While the events transpired nearly 4-years ago, the fall-out for the transgressing judge took place just last month.

In 2012, El Paso family court judge Mike Herrera filed a divorce proceeding that was randomly assigned to his own courtroom. Rather than immediately seeking to have the case re-assigned for the glaring conflict, Judge Herrera instead attempted to work things out with his wife.

Sensing that she was out-gunned by her well-connected husband, the judge’s wife sought the advice and counsel of an El Paso divorce lawyer, Angelica Carreon-Beltran; the only lawyer she could convince to take her case. That’s when things started to slide south in the good judge’s divorce.

Eventually, with the benefit of counsel, Herrera’s divorce was transferred from his own courtroom. Rather than getting the case transferred, Judge Herrera responded to a discovery motion filed by his wife’s lawyer.

In his recently concluded judicial [mis]conduct proceedings, Judge Herrera asserted that he was not about to consider motions filed in his own divorce case; that the timing of the case transfer was all just a big misunderstanding.

The Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct disagreed, concluding in their public reprimand:

The Commission concludes from the facts and evidence presented that Judge Herrera failed to comply with the law, demonstrated a lack of professional competence in the law, and engaged in willful and persistent conduct that was clearly inconsistent with the proper performance of his judicial duties when he (a) failed to take immediate steps to disqualify himself and/or transfer his own divorce case out of his court, (b) filed motions in his own court in connection with the pending divorce action, (c) failed to timely rule on or refer the recusal motions filed by Carreon in the Moreno, Quezada, and Patriarchias cases, and (d) attempted to intervene in proceedings relating to his own recusal by having an attorney file motions asking the judges presiding over the recusals to reconsider their decisions or grant a new trial.

The judge may have prevailed over the heart and mind of his ex-spouse to the extent that she basically wound-up proceeding to judgment in pro per –an outcome that left her lawyer flabbergasted and surprised- but he faces voters this fall. Let’s see how they feel about a judge willing to temporarily preside over his own divorce proceeding.