Legal Ethics

Judge, 68, Abruptly Retires; Former Court Reporter May Have Helped with Cases


When veteran court reporter Don Rymer was indicted (and eventually agreed to a plea bargain) over a missing trial transcript, it wasn’t just his own career that was adversely affected.

A 68-year-old Texas judge who abruptly resigned this week after, observers say, experiencing problems with dementia, may have relied on Rymer to help him handle his court call before Rymer was indicted last year and retired, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Observers say Rymer not only helped Judge Reagan Helm handle daily business on his Harris County criminal Court-at-Law call but apparently even assisted the judge in reaching rulings, the newspaper reports.

Defense attorney Vivian King says she sought Helm’s recusal after he granted a mistrial in one of her cases last summer, saying that the lawyers were “all too difficult.”

“I don’t think if Don Rymer was there, we would have had a mistrial in my case,” she tells the Chronicle.

Helm did not respond to the newspaper’s requests for comment.

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “DA: Judge’s ‘Deep-Seated Bias’ Requires Recusal in 74 Domestic Violence Cases”

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