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El Paso County judge publicly reprimanded for courtroom behavior

An El Paso County district judge is publicly reprimanded for his actions and behavior with both attorneys and prospective jurors.

Judge Luis Aguilar is the judge for the 243d District Court.

In the space of a year and a half, the State Commission on Judicial Conduct received nine complaints against Aguilar.

Many of the complaints focus on Aguilar holding attorneys in contempt of court for failing to appear – even though the attorneys had the right to have other lawyers represent them.

Court documents show one Houston attorney was eight months pregnant and had a doctor’s order not to travel. In some instances the judge ordered a bench warrant for an attorney’s arrest.

One attorney complained Aguilar failed to follow proper procedure when asked to recuse himself from a case and instead pushed ahead with the legal proceeding.

One prospective juror reportedly saw the judge treat a woman in the jury pool with disrespect and claimed the judge said the woman could file a complaint with the commission, but such grievances did not concern him because he knew how to handle them.

In another instance an attorney claimed the judge make a prospective juror cry.

According to court documents the judge said: “What I am telling you is that in this great country of America, we take care of the disabled. This freedom is not free. This is one of the few things this country asks our citizens to do, come up here and pass judgment. And in return, we send you disability checks. And you turn around and come up to me and tell me, I don’t want to serve because I do not understand. You understand perfectly. Your English is no problem. Outside in the hallway, ma’am. Now. Now.”

In another case several prospective jurors indicated they could not sit in judgment of a defendant in a capital murder case on religious grounds.

Documents show Judge Aguilar responded: “Did you understand that question? Because it seems to me you pass judgment on people every single day. Single ladies, let me see your hands. Ever been asked out before in your life. Did you pass judgment. ‘He’s kind of ugly.’ ‘Not my type.’ ‘Doesn’t have a car.’ Did you not pass judgment on another human being?”

Court documents state Aguilar contends the complaints against his demeanor are politically motivated or brought by people who simply do not like him.

Aguilar was ordered at his own expense to take eight hours of instruction at the college for new judges in Austin. He must also take part in two hours of instruction in the area of contempt of court with a mentor chosen by the commission.

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