Criminal Justice

Contempt Trial for 2 Texas Lawyers Follows Their Winning Defense of Municipal Judge's Criminal Case

A criminal contempt trial is under way against two Texas lawyers, concerning their winning defense of an El Paso municipal court judge in a criminal trial last year.

Theresa Caballero and Stuart Leeds have been attempting to show that local politics and claimed bias by a local newspaper may have played a role in the contempt counts each is now facing concerning their conduct in last year’s trial of 448th District Court Judge Regina Arditti before a visiting judge, according to KVIA, a local ABC affiliate.

A different visiting state court jurist, Judge Juanita Vasquez-Gardner, is hearing the criminal contempt case. An outside district attorney, Henry Garza, was brought in from Bell County to prosecute the two lawyers.

Articles in the El Paso Times on Tuesday and Wednesday say Caballero and Leeds have come out swinging, accusing Judge Steve Smith, who presided over Arditti’s trial, of “racist” and “deplorable” conduct.

Smith contended in his contempt citation that the two lawyers crossed the line of acceptable advocacy by continuing to argue after he made rulings and sustained objections and implying he had improper motives for ruling against them, according to the newspaper.

“We’re just doing what we’ve always done,” Caballero said Tuesday. “This is how we practice law. We had no trouble until Judge Smith rolled into town.”

In earlier posts on her Justice & Reform blog, Caballero offers further thoughts about the lawyers’ run-in with Smith.

El Paso News blog posts about the contempt trial provide additional details.

The contempt trial is expected to last all week.

Earlier coverage: “Lawyers’ Defense of Judge in Criminal Trial Leads to Contempt Case, Ethics Complaint”

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