Alleged judicial misconduct and a healthy portion of local politics are now blending at the Polk County Courthouse.
At the center of the evolving controversy is 411th District Court Judge Kaycee Jones. According to a pending complaint before the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct, Jones is accused of attempting to purposely and publicly prejudice a fellow judge against a defendant she claims once stole her property.
Multiple witnesses say it happened in Livingston February 3, during a trial scheduling conference conducted by 258th District Court Judge Travis Kitchens.
"411th District Judge Kaycee Jones was in the room and when I mentioned my client’s name she interrupted and said, ‘That’s the guy who stole my car’. I was stunned that she would say this in front of a Judge that would be hearing my client’s case," said John Wells, an attorney practicing in Polk, Trinity, and San Jacinto Counties.
It was Wells who filed the ethics complaint against Judge Jones.
"Even after I stated an objection she ignored that and continued to go on about my client’s criminal history. I think they (Jones' comments) were extremely prejudicial. Those statements tainted the judge that would be hearing the case," said Wells.
Backing Wells' version of events are two sworn affidavits from officers of the court.
FOX 26 legal analyst Carmen Roe serves on the Board of Directors for the State Bar Association. After reviewing the complaint and affidavits she says the misconduct case against Jones is strong, especially given the judge has been reprimanded for two high profile ethical violations in the past.
"This is outrageous behavior. It's a blatant disregard of the integrity of the judicial process. It's a blatant disregard to this defendant's right to a fair trial and it calls into question the integrity of the judge involved in the case. I think it is something we would never see here in Houston and I think it happens in smaller counties because no one is paying attention," said Roe.
Contacted by FOX 26 for this story, Judge Jones repeatedly declined comment.
On March 3, Judge Jones is running to retain her seat on the bench in the Republican primary. Her opponent is attorney John Wells. With no Democrat vying for the job, the GOP winner on Super Tuesday will preside over 411th District Court.