KTSM Newschannel 9 has learned that District Court Judge Luis Aguilar has been publicly reprimanded and ordered to take additional judicial education classes for the way he treats lawyers and prospective jurors in his court.
The State Commission on Judicial Conduct said it is Judge Aguilar’s public reprimand is the most severe disciplinary sanction a judge can receive. It released its report earlier this week. It says between July 2015 and December 2016, 9 complaints were filed against Judge Aguilar. While investigating those complaints, the commission said it found more.
KTSM reached out to Judge Aguilar for comment. He did not return our calls.
The commission concluded that among the issues, Judge Aguilar failed to comply with his handling of contempt of court proceedings against lawyers appearing in his court. In one example, Judge Aguilar issued a bench warrant for an attorney who failed to appear in his court due to her scheduled c-section.
The commission also found that Judge Aguilar treated those he deals with in an official capacity with a lack of patience, dignity, and courtesy. The report shows the commission received a sworn statement from a sexual assault survivor who, after identifying herself that way, felt shamed by the judge for trying to get out of jury duty.
In another example, the judge dressed down a prospective juror and made her cry because he did not believe her when she said she had limited English. The report shows Judge Aguilar questioned the disability benefits the woman’s family received. Judge Aguilar 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.”
And in another example, several jurors indicated they couldn’t pass judgment in a case due to their religious beliefs.The judge said:
“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?”
Judge Aguilar appeared before the commission last month and testified that complaints about his demeanor are politically motivated or brought by people who don’t like him.
Aguilar has been ordered to take 8 hours of educational courses to include a class on ethics in and out of the courtroom as well as complete instruction with a mentor in the area of contempt of court.
The State Bar of Texas shows that this is not Judge Aguilar’s first reprimand. According to their web site, he also received one in 1999. However, the State Commission on Judicial Conduct tells us Judge Aguilar was not reprimanded then but in 2004.