Monday, September 1, 2008

Brazoria County, TX judge resigns after pleading guilty to groping

61 year old Brazoria County Judge Court-at-Law Judge James Blackstock resigned Friday as part of a plea agreement where he was sentenced for groping 4 women employees who he came in contact with while serving as judge.

Judge George Goodwin, of Harris County, TX (which includes Houston) fined Blackstock $750 for the misdemeanor oppression charges, and $350 for each misdemeanor assault charge, for a total of $2150 in fines.

I'm just glad something was done about it," said Brazoria County Clerk Joyce Hudman, who said she also was a victim of the judge's unwanted advances but didn't seek charges against him.

In April 2006, Hudman said, Blackstock called her into his office for a meeting. As the two sat side by side, she said, "he held my face and kissed me." She said he then touched her breasts.
"I was so startled that I just got up and walked out," she said. As she walked away, the judge groped her bottom, she said.

Hudman said that although she had heard courthouse rumors about the judge groping women, she had never known him to act inappropriately before. She was his court clerk from 1995 to 1997 and never had any trouble, she said.

She said she told Brazoria County District Attorney Jeri Yenne about the incident, but decided not to file charges.

Yenne filed misdemeanor charges against Blackstock on Aug. 12 after what she said was an extensive investigation. The charges alleged that he groped several staff members of the county adult and juvenile probation departments between July 2007 and June of this year.
The judge also was accused of sending obscene photos to women from his county computer.

Chief Brazoria County Juvenile Probation Officer Diana CoatesChief Brazoria County Juvenile Probation Officer Diana Coates spoke about her ordeal at the hands of the predatory judge.

"James Blackstock not only disgraced himself and his family while subjecting numerous women, myself included, to unwarranted humiliation and assault over the years, but he tainted the bench from which he sat and violated the trust placed in him by the public"

Yenne stated that Judge Blackstock's victims "felt they couldn't do anything because of his powerful position," and that the plea was appropriate because he is permanently gone from the judicial bench. "He can't hurt anyone the same way again," Yenne said.

The day after the charges were filed, the State Commission on Judicial Conduct suspended him from the bench pending the outcome of the criminal case.

In 1997, the commission issued Blackstock a public warning after he sued someone while he was the judge in a criminal case in which that person was the defendant.

The commission also cited him for telephoning an appeals court justice who was considering a child custody case in which Blackstock was involved.

Blackstock will retain his pension.

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