On Wednesday, December 6, 2023, the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct concluded a review of allegations against Justice of the Peace Israel B. Garcia Jr. of Precinct 5, Place 1 in Houston.
According to the document which the state agency released on January 12, 2024, the Commission found that Judge Garcia had advertised his wedding services in an attempt to solicit paying customers. He distributed business cards featuring a picture of himself in judicial robes and mentioning his title. Judge Garcia also ran advertisements in Spanish newspapers that showed a photo of him on the bench in robes under the Harris County seal with his name and title.
During his appearance before the Commission, Judge Garcia provided inconsistent testimony regarding his advertising efforts. He confirmed distributing the business cards and running the newspaper ads but could not provide clear details on how, where, or how long they were used. The Commission found his testimony to be contradictory and not fully truthful.
The Commission determined that by advertising his wedding services using images of himself as a judge, Judge Garcia violated the canon of the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct prohibiting using the prestige of office to advance private interests. As a result, the Commission issued Judge Garcia a public admonishment and ordered him to obtain three additional hours of instruction on not using his judicial position improperly. The mentor-led instruction must be completed within 60 days.
The Commission took this action under its authority to protect the public and promote confidence in the judicial system. Judge Garcia will have to complete the additional education in addition to his normal annual training for the next fiscal year.
Judge García started his legal career as a solo practitioner with offices in Austin, Dallas, and Houston. He has handled a wide range of cases, including traffic tickets, divorces, commercial litigation, criminal cases, and serious personal injury cases. In the 2020 Presidential election, he ran for the first time and was elected as Justice of the Peace Precinct 5, Place 1.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.