No Ethics To Be Found

From Holden:

Remember last October when Harriet Miers was proclaimed to be the best qualified person in the land to take Sandra Day O’Connor’s seat on the Supreme Court? Chimpy rolled out a pack of Texas judges to vouch for her including Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht.

Nathan Hecht, the Texas Supreme Court justice who publicly supported the nomination of his close friend Harriet Miers for the U.S. Supreme Court last year, has been admonished by the Commission on Judicial Conduct for using his office to promote her nomination.

By telling White House staff to send media inquiries about Miers’ career to him and discussing her qualifications in about 120 newspaper, radio and television interviews, including her religious background and views on abortion, Hecht improperly used his position, the commission found.

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Texas judicial conduct rules prohibit judges from lending the prestige of their office to boost the private interests of themselves or others.

They also prohibit judges from allowing their names to be used to endorse candidates for office.

“Justice Hecht allowed his name and title to be used by the press and the White House in support of his close friend, Harriet Miers, a nominee for the office of United States Supreme Court Justice,” according to the commission’s report.

His statements “would be construed as an endorsement of Miers’ candidacy, as those terms are commonly used and understood,” the report states.

More from Texas Lawyer.

At that time, Hecht jokingly said to Texas Lawyer that he had been acting as a “PR office for the White House” and had been filling in gaps about Miers’ background to the press, countering some conservatives’ skepticism about her qualifications — statements that were referenced in the commission’s admonition.

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In its May 10 admonition, released today, the commission found that Hecht’s actions constituted “persistent and willful violations” of two canons of the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct. Canon 2b states that “a judge shall not lend the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of the judge or others.” And Canon 5(2) states that “a judge or judicial candidate shall not authorize the public use of his or her name endorsing another candidate for any public office, except that either may indicate support for a political party.”

“The commission concludes from the facts and evidence presented that Justice Hecht allowed his name and title to be used by the press and the White House in support of his close friend Harriet Miers, a nominee for the office of United States Supreme Court justice.”