Texas judge is reprimanded following the shackling of 2 lawyers in courtroom

  • Print.

texas gavel

Image from Shutterstock.

A Houston family court judge has been publicly reprimanded for ordering two lawyers to be escorted to the jury box by a bailiff who shackled them to a chair while court proceedings continued.

Texas’ State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded Judge Barbara Stalder of the 280th Family Protective Order Court in Texas in an April 20 document.

Stalder was reprimanded for the two separate incidents in February 2020. Both incidents happened after Stalder lectured the lawyers about their behavior in the courthouse hallway. Stalder did not hold a contempt proceeding in either case.

In the first incident, Stalder called lawyer Derrick Saulsberry to the bench after being told that he had an exchange of words in the hallway with a relative of a his nephew, whom he was representing in a protective order proceeding. The relative told the judge that Saulsberry had cursed at her.

Saulsberry initially declined Stalder’s request that he respond to the allegation. He acknowledged that he had cursed, however, when Stalder threatened to hold him in contempt, according to findings of fact. Stalder lectured Saulsberry about his professionalism and ordered him to apologize, which he refused to do.

Stalder instructed the bailiff to escort Saulsberry to the jury box. The bailiff did so and shackled Saulsberry to a chair, where he remained for 20 minutes while Stalder discussed matters related to the protective order.

In the second incident, lawyer Samuel Milledge II went to court to support his client during a protective order hearing. Milledge represented the client in a different matter. Stalder asked Milledge to approach the bench after she heard about his exchange with a court staffer in the hallway.

Milledge said the court staffer had been disrespectful. Stalder nonetheless lectured Milledge about his behavior and ordered the bailiff to take him to the jury box, where the bailiff shackled Milledge to a chair.

Milledge contacted his son, who is also a lawyer, and asked him to come to Stalder’s courtroom to represent him. The son was confronted by the bailiff when he entered the courtroom and went to talk to his father.

Stalder released Milledge after the son explained he had another trial to attend. When leaving the courtroom, the son had another exchange with the bailiff. Stalder told the son “to never step foot in her courtroom again.”

Stalder apologized to Milledge and his son the next day.

In her response, Stalder said she was unaware that Milledge had been shackled.

The reprimand said Stalder failed to be patient, dignified and courteous; showed disregard for the lawyer’s rights, as well as the rights of Saulsberry’s client; and conducted herself in a way that cast public discredit on the judiciary.

Had tip to Law360 and the Houston Chronicle, which had coverage of the reprimand, which was released May 6. The Houston Chronicle reports that Stalder lost a March primary race when she sought reelection.

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.