• October 24, 2014

Several file complaints against Grisham trial judge

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Posted: Thursday, June 12, 2014 4:30 am

TEMPLE — Months after the second trial of Master Sgt. C.J. Grisham was over and several complaints were filed against Judge Neel Richardson, several people attending the trials were called Tuesday by Katherine Mitchell with the State Commission on Judicial Conduct and asked to provide a written statement about the judge’s alleged misconduct.

But the commission wouldn’t confirm any investigation.

“I can’t confirm whether or not there is an investigation because of confidentiality. We can only comment if disciplinary action is taken,” Seana Willing, executive director for the commission, said Tuesday.

Richardson, a retired Harris County judge, was appointed as the trial judge after Bell County judges recused themselves with no known explanations. Richardson did not return a phone call for comment by press time.

Victoria Montgomery filed a complaint after the second trial.

“Several people have received calls from the review board about Judge Richardson. He is under investigation,” Larry Keilberg said Wednesday.

Keilberg is the national director for the National Association of Legal Defense Fund, which funded Grisham’s defense and his current appeal.

Also receiving a phone call was Blue Rannefeld, Grisham’s attorney, Keilberg said.

“In my opinion there’s a rats nest in Bell County and the voters should use an exterminator at election time,” Keilberg added.

Bell County Attorney Jim Nichols said Wednesday his office had not had any contact from the commission informing it of an investigation.

The case against Grisham began March 16, 2013, when he was stopped by Temple Police Officer Steve Ermis while he and his son, Chris, were on a 10-mile hike for a Boy Scout merit badge. Grisham carried an AR-15 rifle across his chest on a sling. Ermis testified he forcibly tried to take Grisham’s rifle because he was afraid for his own safety. He then told Sgt. Thomas Menix, who arrived at the scene later, that Grisham resisted arrest.

The resisting arrest charge was changed to interfering with the duties of a public servant after Menix watched the police dash-cam video, Menix testified.

The first trial, lasting four days, ended in a mistrial because of a hung jury. The second trial, lasting another three days, ended with a guilty verdict.

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