This post has been updated.
A Texas judge has been suspended amid accusations that she sexted in the courtroom, used her bailiff to buy drugs, hired prostitutes and once brought home marijuana seized from a defendant.
Hilary H. Green’s lawyer called the ruling by the state Supreme Court “frustrating and surprising.” He pointed out that many of the accusations had long been public, and yet voters overwhelmingly reelected Green as a Harris County justice of the peace.
“She’s very popular in the precinct,” Chip Babcock told The Washington Post. “Lots of communication in the community is about how horrible this is.”
Green, who has not been charged with a crime, was immediately suspended Friday from the Houston court where she oversaw misdemeanors, traffic cases and small civil suits since 2007.
She was once married to one of Houston’s most powerful officials, City Controller Ronald C. Green, with whom she has a child.
Their divorce battle gave rise to allegations that ultimately led to her suspension.
Accusations of threesomes, drugs and black market cough syrup
The Greens accused each other of various misdeeds in their filings, the Houston Chronicle reported in 2015.
While the judge claimed her husband had cheated on her and concealed assets, according to the paper, Ronald Green called his wife a drug addict who “operates daily with impaired judgment as evidenced by her presiding over cases in which she has ongoing sexual relationships with litigants and witnesses.”
As the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct would later explain, those accusations prompted it to file a formal complaint against the judge — the first of several that informed its 316-page recommendation to suspend her this year.
More allegations came from Claude Barnes, whom Green acknowledged as her ex-lover — though she denied his testimony that they had hired prostitutes for threesomes.
When he appeared before the commission early last year, Barnes recalled an alleged rendezvous in a Crowne Plaza hotel room.
An escort walked in, Barnes said. “Well, she’s cute,” the judge remarked, according to his testimony.
“The three of us sat,” Barnes testified. “We smoked marijuana. We had a couple drinks and then three of us had sex.”
The couple did ecstasy on other occasions, Barnes said.
And, he added, he repeatedly helped Green buy prescription cough syrup on the black market.
One time, Barnes alleged, the judge came to his house with a bag of marijuana and “told me they took it off a kid in her courtroom … one of the bailiffs gave this to me.”
The commission said it obtained hundreds of texts between Green and a bailiff. (Green’s lawyer would later argue that her husband broke into her phone and stole texts.)
Many of the messages excerpted in court records are explicitly sexual — “That sounds like a very good dream/fantasy,” Green admitted writing to her bailiff. “You know I’m all about oral.”
At least one text appears to describe a drug purchase by the two court officials, according to court records.
“Had to marry some folks outside yesterday,” Green wrote to the bailiff in 2013. “On another note, did you hear back from ‘lover boy?’”
In a letter to the commission, Green acknowledged sending the text and clarified that “lover boy” was a supplier of cough medicine, which she said she later gave the bailiff $500 to buy.
While she denied hiring prostitutes, Green admitted to abusing drugs “almost every night” for several years, according to court records.
Once she paid her bailiff to get them, she wrote; sometimes she went herself — sometimes to “a gas station on the southwest side of Houston.”
The commission briefly questioned Green in person in February.
“I’m just thinking that you’re the judge and here you are abusing drugs,” an interrogator told her. “Judging these people for the crimes that they have committed, and yet you were committing that same crime.”
“Yes, ma’am,” the judge replied.
‘She was willing to fight this thing’
In May, the commission asked the state Supreme Court to suspend Green while it prepared a case to permanently remove her from the bench.
“To this day, Judge Green has apparently made no attempt to reassign the bailiff with whom she actively participated in an inappropriate sexual texting relation and whom she recruited to assist in illegal drug activity,” wrote the executive director of the commission. “She engaged the services of a peace officer to commit a criminal act, and indeed he was apparently willing to do so. Incredibly, Judge Green sees nothing wrong with the arrangement.”
As Green tried to head off the suspension in a filing last month, her lawyer argued that the accusations had been improperly filed, and mostly stemmed from bitter ex-romantic partners.
The challenge also accused the commission of being “the anti-democratic specter of a government agency overriding the will of the people without so much as a nod or even apparent awareness of the implications of its doing so.”
Babcock told The Post that Green would have debunked many of the accusations, had she been given the opportunity. And what the judge had done wrong, he said, had been aired publicly in last year’s reelection and forgiven by the public.
“It all ended in late 2013 or early 2014,” Babcock said of the drug abuse. “She sought help and her doctors testifies she was drug free and didn’t have any problem. And then she got reelected with 86 percent of the vote.”
He said he had been looking forward to presenting his arguments in person to the state Supreme Court — until he found out late Friday it had made its ruling.
“The Court evidently disagreed” with the request for oral arguments, a spokesman for the court wrote to The Post.
The spokesman couldn’t recall another case when the judicial commission had asked the Supreme Court to suspend a judge.
The spokesman said the Supreme Court last suspended a judge at the commission’s request in 2011 — and had done so about a dozen times in the past 15 years.
Green’s suspension will last until a civil trial can be held to consider whether to remove her from office.
Babcock said that could be years away — by which time another judge will probably be elected to Harris County’s Precinct 7.
“This is a human being with a 11-year-old child, and she was willing to fight this thing,” Babcock said.
An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified the executive director of the judicial commission as the executive director of the State Bar. It has been fixed.
This article quoted a spokesman for the Texas Supreme Court who said he couldn’t recall it having suspended a judge before Green’s case. The spokesman later advised The Post that multiple judges have been suspended before. The article has been updated with this information.