Monday, June 30, 2008

Everyone's looking

Ah yes, the joys of living in a goldfish bowl.

Complaints against two high court justices set to be reviewed
Clay Robison: Express-News

AUSTIN — Ethics complaints against at least two Texas Supreme Court justices — Nathan Hecht and David Medina — aren't going away, at least not yet.

They have been scheduled for review the same day, Aug. 14, by the Texas Ethics Commission.

The 11-month-old complaint against Hecht alleges that a discount he received for personal legal services may have amounted to an illegal political contribution.

The complaint against Medina, filed with the commission in January, alleges he may have violated state law by paying himself nearly $57,000 from his political funds over three years as mileage reimbursement for commuting between Austin and his Houston area home.
(That apparently was the same house that burned down about a year ago, resulting in arson charges against the justice's wife.)

The Ethics Commission won't even publicly acknowledge that the complaints — which could result in fines against the justices — exist. But it notified the complaining party, the judicial watchdog group Texas Watch, of the pending “preliminary review hearings.”

Texas Watch also filed similar travel reimbursement complaints against Hecht for airline flights between Austin and Dallas and against Justice Paul Green for auto mileage between Austin and San Antonio. But the group hasn't been notified of any hearings on those.

Medina's attorney, Terry Yates, said earlier this year that the justice would repay the money to his campaign fund. Hecht and Green have said their trips were for legitimate political purposes.
The complaint against Hecht over legal fees stems from his representation by the Jackson Walker law firm in a dispute with the Commission on Judicial Conduct in 2006. Hecht won the dismissal of a commission order slapping his wrist for promoting President Bush's short-lived nomination of Hecht's friend, Harriet Miers, to the U.S. Supreme Court.

That complaint also has been reviewed by the Travis County district attorney's office, which hasn't had anything to say about it in months.