Collin County Judge Chris Oldner, who unethically procured the indictments of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, will be facing an investigation from the State Commission on Judicial Conduct. Facing a tough reelection in Collin County, Oldner is instead attempting to “fall upward” by running for the Court of Criminal Appeals.
A complaint filed by Tarrant County resident Aaron Harris alleges that Oldner violated several canons of judicial ethics by disparaging Paxton’s defense team in media interviews and leaking confidential grand jury information to his wife, amongst other offenses.
“Judge Oldner’s actions violate terms of good government, judicial impartiality and restraint, and prohibitions on the use of government power for political purposes,” said Harris. “Judge Oldner should be held accountable for his improper conduct.”
Under Judicial Canon 4A, “A judge shall conduct all of the judge’s extra-judicial activities so that they do not: (1) cast reasonable doubt on the judge’s capacity to act impartially as a judge; or (2) interfere with the proper performance of judicial duties.” Under Judicial Canon 3B, “A judge shall abstain from public comment about a pending matter or impending proceeding which may come before the judge’s court in a manner which suggests to a reasonable person the judge’s probable decision on any particular case.”
By commenting publicly about Paxton’s case, Oldner has not only biased the pool of potential jurors, he has done so on a case that may eventually appear in front of the Court of Criminal Appeals, to which Oldner is seeking election.
Harris’ complaint asks the Commission on Judicial Conduct to investigate Oldner and hold him responsible for his violations. The Texas Constitution authorizes the Commission to take appropriate disciplinary action, including issuing sanctions, censures, suspensions, or recommendations for removal from office.