Order: Former Judge Guy Williams’ reprimands are valid for conduct off, on bench

A panel of judges that upheld reprimands against former Judge Guy Williams found his behavior both on and off the bench “cast public discredit on the judiciary.” 

Williams on March 18 went before a special court of review to appeal two reprimands. In them, Williams stood accused of groping three women, including a sitting judge, making disparaging comments about Nueces County prosecutors and mishandling a family law case. 

“Viewing Judge Williams’ conduct in all three scenarios as a whole, it creates a significant negative impact on the integrity of the judiciary and the public’s respect for the judiciary,” the Friday order states. 

The judges were tasked with considering what to do with the reprimands previously handed down by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct. 

The Caller-Times is not naming the three women because of the nature of their complaints.

When reached by phone, Amie Augenstein, one of Williams’ attorneys said they were still reviewing the opinion and didn’t have an immediate comment. B

THE HISTORY 

The commission in December first concluded Williams’ behavior violated both the Code of Judicial Conduct and the Texas Constitution. The code is what governs how judge’s should act.

He “failed to follow the law and failed to be patient, dignified and courteous” with both legal colleagues and parties who appeared before him in court.

Williams presided over the 148th District Court in Nueces County starting in 2011. He didn’t run for reelection in the most recent election cycle. BY OPTIMUM NUTRITIONAmin.O Energy + ElectrolytesSee more →

The reprimands prevent Williams from being a visiting judge, something he needs to do in order to get his retirement benefits, his attorney Chris Gale said in March.

“If he can’t be a visiting judge for at least four months, then he loses his entire retirement, which to say the least seems a bit unfair,” Gale told the Caller-Times in March. “That’s one of the reasons we’re doing this, but also because it’s just the right thing.”

Williams and the three women were among those that testified in the March hearing. 

One woman testified she was “absolutely stunned” by the inappropriate touching.

“I mean, I’m 70 years of age. I don’t think that’s ever happened in my lifetime,” she said. 

Williams denied he inappropriately touched the women.

Former Judge Guy Williams stands while attorneys confer during a hearing before three judges at the Supreme Court of Texas. The hearing deals with three public reprimands handed down by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.

Former Judge Guy Williams stands while attorneys confer during a hearing before three judges at the Supreme Court of Texas. The hearing deals with three public reprimands handed down by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct. (Photo: Eleanor Dearman)

THE ORDER

The order states that Williams failed to comply with the law when he “engaged in three separate instances of assault by offensive touching.” They also noted there were two witnesses that backed up the three women’s accounts. 

 “Each of the complaining witnesses are public officials who testified they had known Judge Williams in a professional capacity for many years and felt offended and disrespected by Judge Williams’ inappropriate touching at the function, leading them to each make the decision to speak out and file a complaint with the Commission,” the order states. 

It’s rare cases make it to this level in Texas. Since 2000, 13 special court of review opinions — aside from Williams’ — have been handed down, commission records show. 

His “disparaging” comments about the Nueces County District Attorney’s office were biased and prejudiced against the office, according to the opinion. 

The order also states that in the family law matter, Williams made an admission he didn’t know the applicable law in the case. 

“It is incumbent on a trial judge to determine the scope of his lawful authority before exercising it,” the document states. 

One judge issued her own opinion stating she didn’t believe it had been proven he was biased or prejudiced on the bench. 

The public reprimands are not related to former Judge Guy Williams' other legal troubles.

B

CRIMINAL MATTERS 

The reprimands are not related to Williams’ other legal troubles. 

He’s set to go to trial on charges of resisting arrest and public intoxication in June. He was also arrested in November on suspicion of driving while intoxicated and unlawful carrying of a weapon. 

He was cleared on two counts of aggravated assault with deadly weapon in connection with road rage allegation.