On Wednesday, August 2, 2023, the State of Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct concluded its review of allegations against Joshua Ritter, Justice of the Peace, Precinct No. 4 of Tenaha, Shelby County, resulting in a public reprimand for violations of judicial conduct rules.

The case is entitled “In the Matter of Joshua Ritter,” with case no. 23-0336 & 23-0360.

The charges cited Texas Code of Judicial Conduct Canons 2A and 3B(2), Article V, Section I-a(6)A of the Texas Constitution, U.S. Const.amend.V, VI, XIV, and Texas Local Government Code Section 113.022(a), 114.044(a)(b)(c). 

During the investigation, it came to light that Justice Ritter engaged in conduct that raised serious ethical and legal questions. Some of the key findings include inadequate legal awareness, despite being a licensed Texas attorney since 2018. Judge Ritter had previously represented criminal defendants and handled various legal matters.

On November 28, 2022, Ritter visited the Shelby County Jail to speak with Ethan Myers, a murder suspect who was rumored to be part of a satanic worshipping group. Notably, Judge Ritter spoke with Myers without his attorney present, failing to follow proper legal procedures. He also neglected to inform Myers of his Miranda Rights, depriving him of his right to remain silent or have his attorney present.

Judge Ritter’s lack of diligence in verifying legal status is concerning, as he failed to review jail rosters or consult his county-issued cell phone to confirm whether Myers had already been magistrated and assigned an attorney.

In addition to the aforementioned violations, Judge Ritter failed to fulfill his reporting obligations outlined in the Texas Local Government Code. He did not adhere to the requirements for timely and accurate financial reporting, as per the statute.

The State Commission on Judicial Conduct determined that Justice Ritter should be publicly reprimanded for his actions, which were found to be in violation of several key standards.

The conclusion states:

“The State Commission on Judicial Conduct has determined that the Honorable Joshua Ritter, Justice of the Peace, Precinct No. 4 of Tenaha, Shelby County, Texas, should be publicly reprimanded for failing to comply with the law and maintain professional competence when questioning a defendant without his attorney present, and for failing to meet reporting requirements.”

Following the conclusion of the investigation and the Commission’s findings, Justice Joshua Ritter tendered his resignation from the position of Justice of the Peace, Precinct No. 4.

Joshua Ritter assumed the role of Justice of the Peace for Precinct 4 subsequent to his appointment during the Commissioners Court session convened on Wednesday, March 30, 2022. This appointment was made to complete the unexpired term of Judge Jackie Kirkwood, who sadly passed away on January 29, 2022. His info can be found on ballotpedia.org.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.