Federal judge is reprimanded for unwanted sexual advances 17 years ago

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A federal judge based in Waco, Texas, has been reprimanded for making unwanted sexual advances toward a court employee and failing to understand the gravity of his behavior.

The Judicial Council of the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued the reprimand last week for U.S. District Judge Walter Smith Jr., report the Associated Press, Waco Tribune and the KWTX. The order said Smith’s actions don’t warrant a recommendation for impeachment.

The Judicial Council found that Smith, 75, made “inappropriate and unwanted physical and non-physical sexual advances” to a court employee in his chambers 17 years ago. The council also said Smith “does not understand the gravity of such inappropriate behavior and the serious effect it has on the operations of the courts.”

The council also found that Smith “allowed false factual assertions to be made in response to the complaint, which, together with the lateness of his admissions, contributed greatly to the duration and cost of the investigation.”

The order also says Smith failed to recuse himself in a case involving the lawyer who defended Smith in the sexual harassment complaint.

The 5th Circuit order bars new cases from being assigned to Smith for a year and orders him to take a sensitivity course. It also said it had imposed unspecified “severe sanctions” available under judicial conduct rules and judicial disability proceedings, according to the Waco Tribune account.

Dallas lawyer Ty Clevenger, who was fined $25,000 by Smith for filing a frivolous suit, filed the harassment complaint against the judge. He took a deposition from the alleged harassment victim while defending an ethics case stemming from the tossed case.

The woman said Smith called her to his chambers, where he put his arms around her, kissed her, and said, “Let me make love to you,” according to the Waco Tribune story. She said she pulled away and left, but Smith later sent her flowers and continued to pursue her. She said she reported the incident at the time but nothing was done in response.

Smith declined to comment in response to a request by the Waco Tribune. Clevenger told the newspaper the reprimand was “a joke” and he will seek Smith’s impeachment.

“The Judicial Council found that Judge Smith committed a felony and all he got was a reprimand,” Clevenger said. “He gets to keep his job and now he has a smaller workload. The reprimand is further proof that federal judges cannot or will not police their own.”

Clevenger told the Waco Tribune the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., filed ethics charges last week seeking his disbarment, and he believes the charges stem from his website DirtyRottenJudges.com.

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