BELTON — Bell County Justice of the Peace Claudia Brown — who made national headlines when she set a $4 billion bond for a Killeen murder suspect — was publicly reprimanded Thursday by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.

Bell County Justice of the Peace Claudia Brown

Bell County Justice of the Peace Claudia Brown

Brown, who faced a removal petition, will remain in her elected office and be required to have additional judicial education under an agreement between the commission and Brown, SCOJC Executive Director Eric Vinson told the Temple Daily Telegram on Thursday.

Brown will be required to spend two hours of instruction under the guidance of a mentor.

The mentor agreed upon to provide the additional education was Bell County Justice of the Peace Bill Cooke, Brown’s attorney, Buck Wood, said Thursday.

Brown said, “I agree with the commission. I respect them. Judges are held to very high standards, and I agree with the commission.”

Last week, Bell County Attorney Jim Nichols told the Temple Daily Telegram that a deal to keep Brown in office was underway.

Nichols said Thursday he wouldn’t comment until he had a chance to read the reprimand.

The judicial commission’s reprimand was accepted by Brown and Wood.

Brown, the county’s only elected Democrat, was sworn into office Jan. 3. One of her first decisions was setting a $4 billion bond for a Killeen murder suspect Antonio Marquis Willis as a protest against the legal system.

Brown’s case made national headlines after the Temple Daily Telegram reported the high bond.

Afterward, Brown reversed course and dropped some bonds below recommended levels for some defendants charged with violent felony offenses, prompting the Bell County District Attorney’s office to review her cases.

Like the $4 billion bond, those bonds were set aside by Bell County judges. A total of seven bonds set by Brown were changed.

On June 22, Brown arraigned her own son, Kevin Anton Davis, after he was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated. The judicial commission noted two Killeen Police officers advised Brown to have another judge do her son’s arraignment.

The incident added fuel to the case against Brown and prompted Nichols in October to say he would issue a revised petition against Brown to remove her from office.

Lawyer Jeff Parker filed the complaint in February with the State Commission on Judicial Conduct against Brown and filed an amendment to the complaint in June.

“The folks at the Judicial Commission are clearly a lot more qualified and experienced than I am to know what the typical corrective action should be in a case like this,” Parker said Thursday. “I will trust their decision if they believe that is what it will take to punish the past bad acts and to prevent any future ones by Judge Brown.”

Killeen lawyer Brett Pritchard filed the original court petition in February to remove Brown. He issued a statement about the commission’s decree.

“I applaud the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct for their decision on reprimanding Justice of the Peace Claudia Brown,” Pritchard said. “The role of judge in Texas is a sacred trust and all judges must be above reproach. Justice of the Peace Brown violated that trust and hopefully will do better moving forward.”

Nichols was appointed as the prosecuting attorney in the Brown case and at some point decided settling the case without a trial was the best decision. He said Brown wasn’t a criminal, she just used very bad judgment.

Pritchard commented on his disappointment that Brown won’t be tried in a court of law.

“I am disappointed by Bell County Attorney Jim Nichols’ lack of urgency in this matter. In March 2017, District Judge (Stephen) Ables heard evidence of JP Brown’s misconduct and ordered that a jury trial be held to determine whether she should be removed from office,” Pritchard said. “To date the jury trial has not been set and it now appears that Jim Nichols will never set it. The citizens of Bell County deserved to hear all the facts regarding JP Brown’s misconduct.”

It is Pritchard’s fear that Brown will continue her “unethical behavior” because the case was settled without a jury trial, Pritchard said.

Brown said on a Dec. 15 Facebook post, “It has been an interesting year. I am now an expert on the Bell County Judicial system. I am signed up to attend my second year judge training.”

Brown also has health issues, but hasn’t allowed that to interfere with her time on the bench, Wood said.

She said in the Facebook post that her stage four cancer is in remission.

(2) comments

eyewatchingu

This dimwit only got off, because she had the NAACP and their Lynch women Jones, threaten the state, county and city.
We the citizens need to stand up and start demanding that their is an outside source, one that the NAACP can not interfere with to get this dimwit off the bench. Some of her actions along with the naacp/ and other all black groups she belongs, have been working like a gang, and have broken many ricco laws.
So I ask this, if we can charge Bikers with ricco laws, why can we not go after the people that the ricco laws were created to go after. We need to demanded the records on this case opened to the public and a complete investigation into the local NAACP, many other cities and states have done this and have put the NAACP out of business so they could actually clean up their town.
We have naacp protacting gang bangers in our area and now they have started using the court system to help get more of the gang bangers off, by having family and friends in our police department and other areas, where they are passing on info to the gangs and helping and aiding them to hold cities across the USA hostage.

Hacksaw

JP Brown repeatedly demonstrated a total disregard for the law and endangered the public by ridiculously low bonds for violent criminals, arraigned her own family members in a drunk driving case, and brought disgustingly embarrassing attention to Bell county with her $4 Billion bond and all they're going to do to her is make her attend two hours of additional training!
It's certainly obvious the Bell Count District Attorney and the rest of the state board on judicial conduct have no intention of following the law but of merely protecting their own. Lyndon B Johnson would be most proud of them. And all this after a state district judge orders a jury trial be held. To say "she's not a criminal, she just made some bad judgements" is ludicrous. How many people has that prosecutor sent to prison for the same faults? How are the citizens of Bell County supposed to have any trust in the judicial system after this? Disgusting!!!

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