Houston, Texas – February 26, 2016 – The Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association (HCCLA) is pleased to announce its complaint against sitting judge William “Bill” Harmon has been sustained with a private reprimand being issued.
For years, Judge William “Bill” Harmon arrogantly and inappropriately displayed his Mother’s Against Drunk Driving award on the bench in Harris County Criminal Court at Law #2. Despite requests from HCCLA and lawyers that it be removed, especially during DWI trials, Judge Harmon persisted in its display. During at least one trial, the potential jurors seated in the gallery responded they could see and read the M.A.D.D. plaque; they knew the meaning of the acronym so prominently displayed on the plaque; they even found its display ironic and uncomfortable. The display represented exactly what judges are supposed to avoid – an appearance of bias or impropriety.
The courtroom is a public place to be free of special interests, especially where the court appears to be aligned with the special interest. Our judiciary must be vigilant in its fairness to all parties appearing before the court and must not align itself with special interests that cast doubt on the court’s impartiality.
HCCLA’s complaint also included other inappropriate conduct.
HCCLA filed a judicial complaint with the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct on April 14, 2015. On February 19, 2016, the Commission confirmed its private reprimand of Judge Harmon via written letter (received today).
Because the Commission has issued a private reprimand, rather than a public sanction, we do not have any additional details as to what may have transpired between the Judge and the Commission. We do know that a condition of the reprimand was that Judge Harmon remove the offending display from the public courtroom.
A complete copy of the judicial complaint can be found at: https://hccla.org/madd-about-bias/