Randy Johnston has long demanded a certain standard of conduct from members of the justice system. This is at the heart of his dispute with District Judge Carlos Cortez that came to a head this fall.
The Sixth Court of Appeals in Texarkana ruled that Cortez’s deposition and two witness statements that he wanted to keep from public view are court records and, therefore, should be made public.
According to the Sixth Court’s opinion in Cortez v. Johnston, et al, this dispute “had its roots in the filing by Johnston of a complaint against Cortez with the State Judicial Conduct Commission, wherein Johnston alleged that Cortez had (among other things) publicly demeaned other judges and was rumored to have consorted with prostitutes and used illicit drugs.”
We find that the trial court, having reviewed the documents, had sufficient evidence to make the findings that they were, indeed, court records and did not abuse its discretion in making that finding.
The dispute has gone on for nearly two years, with various legal moves by both sides. Finally, it came down to whether the judge’s deposition and the witness statements would be made public. Intervening in the appeal were The Dallas Morning News, Texas Lawyer and Judge Marty Lowy, one of Cortez’s fellow judges that he verbally harassed to begin this entire process.
The dispute culminated in the opinion of the Sixth Court of Appeals. All that remains of the case is to release the documents.