White-Collar Crime

Judge is criminally charged with misusing his official powers against lawyers

A Texas judge has been criminally charged after allegedly misusing his official powers against lawyers.

In an action-packed day on Wednesday, a civil lawsuit was initially filed by a local lawyer accusing Galveston County-Court-at-Law Judge Christopher Dupuy of incompetence and oppression and petitioning for his removal from office, reports the Houston Chronicle.

Then within hours the state attorney general’s office presented indictments against Dupuy, the article continues. Additionally, the judge’s ex-wife sought an emergency protective order on Wednesday after an affidavit was taken earlier in the week from the judge’s former fiance claiming that he planned to kill his ex-wife, Adrienne Viterna, and flee with their children to New Zealand.

The judge, who was arrested at 3 p.m. and posted bail of $19,000 within hours, couldn’t be reached by the newspaper for comment, but a local television station says his lawyer refused to comment. Dupuy was indicted on two counts of obstruction or retaliation, both felonies, and a total of six misdemeanor counts of official oppression and abuse of official capacity, all misdemeanors.

“He has ruined dozens of lives over the last two years with ridiculous, horrible rulings he has made,” said attorney Greg Hughes, who filed the removal petition against Dupuy. It is going to be handled by the attorney general’s office, the Chronicle says.

The indictment does not provide many details, but accuses the judge of criminal conduct concerning three attorneys (none of them is Hughes). One, Lori Laird, whom Dupuy allegedly used his office to oppress, represents Viterna in a child-custody case against Dupuy. After she tried to record his deposition testimony, the judge “held me in criminal contempt and gave me 120 days in jail,” she told the Chronicle. The contempt order was overturned on appeal.

Fox 26 says the judge was arrested at the Galveston County Courthouse, where he and Viterna were about to take part in an emergency custody hearing, and provides further details about allegations being made against Dupuy.

Attorney George Parnham represents Dupuy and told the station only “We are awaiting our day in court.”

A show-cause hearing is scheduled on June 7, at which the judge can present arguments against his removal.

If Dupuy is convicted on any of the criminal counts, he will automatically be removed from office as a judge, the newspaper says.

See also

ABAJournal.com: “Controversial judge is target of complaints; DA asks state AG to investigate”

Daily News (sub. req.): “Dupuy fines lawyer $25,000”

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