Leeds, Caballero Continue Contempt Defense
El Paso Lawyers present 80 defense witnesses in County Court
DOWNTOWN EL PASO — Back in the county court house for a second day as defendants in a contempt trial, El Paso attorneys Stuart Leeds and Theresa Caballero continued to call witnesses in their defense
Many of the reported 80 witnesses attended the trial of Judge Regina Arditti in May 2011. Leeds and Caballero successfully defended Arditti for bribery, but the Presiding Judge, Steve Smith of Brazos County, cited the pair 18 different times for contempt of court. The judge often referred to Leeds' and Caballero's attitude or tone of voice. In summary, he said their attormnety conduct was the worst he'd seen in 24 years, and he fined both lawyers.
But this week, defense witnesses like Roberto Morales, a member of the Arditti jury pool, portray Leeds and Caballero as calm and professiona during that trial, and instead use woirds like "loud" and "obnoxious" to describe Judge Smith. Morales says Judge Smith "had a vendetta" from day one of the Arditti trial, didn't want to listen to Leeds or Caballero, treated both defense attorneys "like dirt", and seemed transparently favorable to the prosecution of Arditti.
Arditti was acquitted on all fives counts in her trial. In an opening statement yesterday, Leeds told the court that Judge Smith was so eager for a conviction that he "turned purple with apoplectic rage" as he read the jury verdicts exonerating Arditti.
Today, another defense witnesses, attorney Judy Adams, who also attended the Arditti trial, said Judge Smith yelled at Caballero in a hostile way during a recess. She also complimented Leeds and Caballero for conducting their case "to the limit of what is appropriate and legal" in represetning their client Arditti.
Two of the 18 contempt charges are dropped. See the attached a summary of the remaining 16 counts againsrt Stuart Leeds and Theresa Caballero.
The trial on the seventh floor of the El Paso County Courthouse is expected to last into next week. Visiting District Attorney Henry Garza is leading the prosecution.