Judge facing complaint after outing domestic violence victim

A Dallas judge previously disciplined for 2014 comments saying a 14-year-old rape victim in her court wasn’t the “victim she claimed to be” is facing another complaint after calling out a domestic violence victim during a re-election event.

The interaction happened Monday night at a candidate forum between state District Judge Jeanine Howard and her opponent in the Democratic primary, Alison Grinter, at the African American Museum in Dallas.

Before her closing remarks, Howard saw Keisha Nixon in the audience, identified her by name, and after a moderator tried to calm the situation proceeded to tell the audience that Nixon’s “boyfriend was sent to prison for assaulting her numerous times.”

Nixon appeared at a news conference Tuesday with a representative from the Next Generation Action Network, a social justice activism group based in Dallas that has sought police and criminal justice reforms. Nixon and the group are calling for Howard to resign over the interaction, and Nixon said she has filed an ethics complaint with the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.

“I am still shocked, humiliated, embarrassed that a sitting judge would re-victimize me in public and use my status as a domestic violence victim to humiliate and criticize me, to discredit me because she is angry,” Nixon said. “I am not the 14-year-old victim that unfortunately she shamed. I am a grown woman, and I do not deserve to be treated like this.”

From a video of the interaction posted on Facebook, it was unclear whether Nixon had asked a question or interacted with Howard beforehand.

Howard’s court assistant, reached by phone Tuesday at her judicial office, said the judge had no comment.

Eric Vinson, executive director of the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, said he could neither confirm nor deny the existence of a complaint against a member of the judiciary. He said the only time he could discuss a complaint would be if the commission had ruled to issue a public sanction.

Vinson confirmed that the commission had issued a public warning against Howard and ordered four hours of additional education after four complaints were filed over the remarks about the rape victim.

According to that warning, Howard had been heavily criticized for a lenient sentence against Sir Young, who pleaded guilty to second-degree sexual assault after being accused of forcing a 14-year-old girl to have sex with him in a room at a Dallas high school. The judge spoke to a reporter about the case and made the comments about the victim having a sexual history. The warning also notes that she misread the girl’s medical history during an in-chamber meeting and incorrectly thought she had given birth before the assault.

A call to a previous number listed for Howard’s campaign went unanswered, and her campaign website appeared to be taken down Tuesday.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Texas News & Politics

Beto O’Rourke nearly triples Ted Cruz fundraising in 2018
Beto O’Rourke nearly triples Ted Cruz fundraising in 2018

U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke has raised nearly three times as much money as U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018. O’Rourke, a third-term Democratic congressman from El Paso, has raised $2.3 million through Feb. 14 toward his U.S. Senate campaign. Cruz, a Houston Republican seeking his second term, raised $800,000. While O’Rourke touted his bounty...
Workers gather at state Capitol to defend labor unions’ rights

More than a dozen people marched Saturday from the Capitol to a statue of Martin Luther King Jr. on the University of Texas campus to defend workers’ rights to organize and collectively bargain. The event, called the Working People’s Day of Action, was held in conjunction with similar marches across the country Saturday, which was the 50th...
George P. Bush absent from candidate forums as rivals gun for a runoff
George P. Bush absent from candidate forums as rivals gun for a runoff

In 2014, the future belonged to George P. Bush. Elected to statewide office his first time out, out-polling even Greg Abbott, he was the scion of one of America’s great political dynasties. He was the grandson and nephew of presidents and the son of someone who, at that moment, looked like he might have been about to become president. Young and...
Advocates join effort to fix Austin police DNA lab problems
Advocates join effort to fix Austin police DNA lab problems

As lawyers and scientists continue to review hundreds of criminal cases that might have been affected by the Austin Police Department’s now-shuttered DNA lab, members of a stakeholders advisory group have started meeting to evaluate what went wrong and how to avoid mistakes in the future. The lab shut down in 2016 after a state audit found problems...
Perilous times for historically black colleges
Perilous times for historically black colleges

Two years ago, Amelia Smith received the one thing she thought she always wanted – a blue envelope from Spelman College. She had been accepted to what many consider the finest black college in America. Her grandmother went to Spelman. So did her mother. And her aunt. And her sister, who’s a senior there now. So Smith wasn’t surprised...
More Stories