More information has come to light in connection with a messy legal dispute at the courthouse. At the center of it all, a cell phone text message on a judge's phone.
Two local attorneys, Prosecutor Doug Mann and Defense Lawyer Eric Perkins, were reportedly caught reading text messages on a phone belonging to Judge Angelica Hernandez.
Both men said the cell phone issue has been blown out of proportion, denying there was ever any tampering with the judge's phone. They say they never scrolled through her text messages.
"This was an error," Mann said. "This was not intentional."
The incident happened two days ago when the judge left her phone on her court manager's desk. Mann and Perkins said the controversy surrounds a one-text comment Mann accidentally read on the judge's phone.
It was a text from the court manager to the judge, asking where Mann and Perkins should wait for her, or if she should ask them to leave.
"At that point, I also unfortunately made a comment," Mann said. "I accidentally picked this up, and it's not mine."
"Almost all of us have phones that look identical," Perkins said.
Mann and Perkins are involved in a capital murder trial which was set to get underway in the judge's 105th District Court, but Hernandez has recused herself from the case because of this controversy. The trial will be held in judge Jose Longoria's 214th District Court.
In the meantime, she has ordered that Mann and Perkins attend an ethics class. She also banned prosecutor Mann from her courtroom until he completes that ethics class.
According to Mann, the judge over-stepped her boundaries. He said the state has filed a motion to reconsider. Hernandez said that she is researching the matter.
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