Sunday, May 15, 2005
Christo-Republican judge apologizes
According to the AP,
"You just made my day when I heard you had finally come home," Judge Faith Johnson told Billy Wayne Williams, who had been convicted in absentia of aggravated assault after he disappeared a year ago. "We're so excited to see you, we're throwing a party for you."
Before he was brought into the courtroom on Monday, the judge directed staff members as they placed balloons and streamers around the courtroom. A colorful cake was decorated with his name and one candle to signify the year he spent on the lam.
"It seems like everyone wants to have a party, and it's fun for you people, but not for me," Williams told reporters as he was led away in handcuffs.
Seana Willing, executive director of the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct, said she found the incident troubling. "It's the kind of thing I look at and scratch my head and wonder, `What was she thinking?'" Willing said.
She questioned whether the party violated standards of decorum and impartiality.
"The whole purpose of it was to mock him, to make him feel bad. I guess she could have put him in the stockade, in the pillory, in front of the town square and let people mock him," Willing said.
That would have been the Christian thing to do.
According to a follow-up yesterday, The State Commission on Judicial Conduct has since admonished her and "also discovered that Johnson had planned for a TV crew to capture Williams' expression when he entered the courtroom."
The judge has issued a qualified apology—
"If my celebration of the return of fugitive Billy Wayne Williams offended any member of the community, I deeply apologize," Johnson wrote in a statement released Thursday.
This is not the first time Judge Johnson has been a newsmaker. Michael King of the Austin Chronicle repeated an account of the way she was carrying on back in 2002 at the Texas Republican Convention (you just knew she was a Republican, didn't you?)—
... the Saturday morning prayer rally devoted specifically to that purpose featured Dallas District Judge Faith Johnson proclaiming, "Father, draw the unsaved judges unto you. Then, and only then, Father, will they be able to truly be the righteous judges that you would have us to be." Afterward, Johnson conceded that such a measure, however desirable, is not quite yet legally enforceable....
Well, the Republicans are going to be working on that this week in Washington.