Elizabeth Coker, the four-term Texas texting judge, finally stepped down from the bench Dec. 6 after a 14-month investigation showed that she was helping prosecutors win cases in her courtroom -- in one case sending advice via text message.
Two days later, Coker was back. On Dec. 8 she announced that she was running for district attorney in Polk County, posting a message on her Facebook page.
“I am running for Polk County Criminal District Attorney!!!,” she wrote (exclamation points original). “The support and encouragement I am receiving has been overwhelming and humbling. I want to thank all my family, friends and supporters who still want me as a public servant.”
Coker, who still lives in Livingston where she graduated high school in 1985, made her announcement official on the Polk County Today web site, saying that as a judge, she had a reputation for being “tough on crime.”
Coker will run in the Republican primary. A lifelong Democrat from a family of Democratic jurists, she switched parties just eight months ago, offering no explanation other than to say, “Our conservative way of life here in East Texas is most reflected by the Republican Party.”
The Texas state legislature is heavily Republican and her own home district according to a report on her case in Time Magazine, has been shifting into the Republican camp, away from its longtime Democratic roots.
Coker (pictured) is married to another prominent judge. In 2007, the couple was to be the subject of planned reality TV show, “Relative Justice,” which its producers described as “a relationship-themed twist on the family court show genre.” But the show never made it on the air.
Meanwhile, despite her recently-announced campaign to become her home county’s top law enforcement official, the state continues to investigate other possible instances of Coker’s judicial misconduct.
The state commission looking into the allegations against Coker is investigating charges that she met with jurors “in an inappropriate manner” while they were still in trial deliberations, as well as charges that she showed favoritism to certain attorneys and held unauthorized meetings outside of the courtroom with prosecutors, as well as with defense lawyers whom she liked.
Perhaps most seriously, the commission is investigating whether Coker tried to influence a witness in a criminal trial, a charge which if substantiated could wind up with her law license being pulled.
And then there’s the matter of defendants who ended up going to jail in trials that Coker may have tried to rig.
“I expect many writs of habeas corpus in other cases to be filed based on her behavior in this case,” says Mark Bennett, a prominent Houston defense lawyer. “Whether any of them will succeed, I don’t know.”
SOURCES: Time.com, Polk County Today, Raw Story, Facebook