A Tarrant County judge is being exposed around the state for his record of abuse and error in his courtroom. The judge in question, George Gallagher, has been at the center of the politically motivated prosecution of Texas Attorney Ken Paxton.
On numerous occasions, a mail piece notes, the Fort Worth-based 2nd Court of Appeals has criticized Gallagher. In at least two instances, the appeals court ruled that Gallagher himself “abused his discretion” as a judge in legal proceedings.
Some Tarrant County political observers have suggested Gallagher has been aggressively aiding prosecutors in Paxton’s case in order to build a favorable name for himself with Democrats and liberal Republicans around the state. Gallagher was first elected to his post in 2000. He is not up for re-election until 2020.
Outlining Gallagher’s “long history of abuse & manipulation,” the anonymous mail piece relies on statements from appellate level courts criticizing his rulings and courtroom behavior to argue that he is, again, abusing his discretion in the Paxton case.
(While Empower Texans always puts its name on mail pieces it sends out, the organization has taken a strong editorial stance in support of those who choose to exercise their right to speak anonymously.)
A copy of the mail piece, sent to a Texas Scorecard staff member, can be found here. Reports from sources around the state indicate the mailer appears to have a wide geographic distribution.
While most district court judges find themselves overturned on matters of courtroom procedure or application of the law, the mail piece exposes strong appellate-level condemnations of Gallagher’s behavior as a judge.
For example, the mailer quotes the 7th Court of Appeals, which is based in Amarillo, as saying in 2012 that Gallagher “retaliated against” a defendant for successfully appealing a decision. The appellate court added that the justices and “the State” agreed that Gallagher had “wrongfully denied [a defendant] his constitutional right.”
The mailer notes:
“After Gallagher was overruled for sentencing a man to 50 years, he doubled down in the retrial, sentencing the man to 100 years for the same crime.”
Citing Dallas Morning News and Texas Monitor reports on the Paxton case, the mailer claims Gallagher “has been busted trying to fix” the case to help prosecutors. It accuses Gallagher of “shopping for a hostile jury and disregarding the law to rig the outcome.”
The Paxton prosecution is a travesty and an embarrassment to the Texas criminal justice system. Whatever the source, Gallagher deserves the criticism he is receiving for his role in it.