On Monday, October 24, 2022, the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded Bexar County Court at Law No. 2 Judge Grace Uzomba for detaining a defendant for not attending a religious retreat that wasn’t included in his probation agreement. The case is styled as ‘In the Matter of Judge Uzomba’ with case number #20-0623.
The judge was charged with violating Canon 2A, Canon 3B(2), and Canon 3B(4) of the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct, and Article V, Section t-a(6)A, Article 42A.108(a) and Article 424.75 1(b) of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, which state:
A judge shall comply with the law.
A judge should be faithful to the law and shall maintain professional competence in it.
A judge shall be patient, dignified, and courteous to litigants, jurors, witnesses, lawyers, and others with whom the judge deals in an official capacity.
A judge shall not engage in “willful or persistent conduct” that “is clearly inconsistent with the proper performance of his duties or casts public discredit upon the judiciary.
On violation of a condition of deferred adjudication community supervision …, the defendant may be arrested and detained as provided in Art. 424.751.
At any time during the period of community supervision, the judge may issue a warrant for a violation of any condition of community supervision and cause the defendant to be arrested.
According to the filing, on February 9, 2018, Dario Davis pleaded no contest to driving while intoxicated and was placed on probation for two years by Judge Uzomba. During a compliance hearing on August 5, 2019, Judge Uzomba amended Davis’ conditions of community supervision and ordered Davis to attend a Ministry of the Third Cross (MOTC) retreat in San Antonio on September 25-29, 2019.
During a compliant hearing on October 9, 2019, Judge Uzomba admonished Davis for completing a different retreat that she had not ordered. She told Davis he had to attend the MOTC retreat in San Antonio on December 5-8, 2019. However, the order was not completed because Gerald Wright, a Bexar County community liaison officer, had left the courtroom before the hearing ended.
Wright informed Andrew Froelich, Davis’ attorney, that Judge Uzomba had given the go-ahead for Davis to attend the MOTC retreat in Corpus Christi on October 24-29, 2019. Davis had begun the retreat when Judge Uzomba ordered him to be transported from MOTC in Corpus Christi to appear in her court on the basis that he did not have permission to attend the retreat in Corpus Christi. At the compliance hearing on October 25, 2019, Wright again stated that the judge had given Davis permission to attend the Corpus Christi retreat.
Judge Uzomba responded by amending Davis’ conditions of community supervision ordering an increase in urinalysis frequency, requiring him to acquire a portable alcohol monitoring device, and ordering him to attend and complete a specific substance abuse outpatient treatment program. The judge also reinstated a fine and ordered Davis to perform more community service.
When she learned that Davis was attending the retreat in Corpus Christi, Judge Uzomba said she did not remember authorizing him to do so and that she believed Davis was once again breaking the terms of his probation. Judge Uzomba stated that Davis’ permission to attend the MOTC retreat in Corpus Christi was unclear due to a failure in communication between her, Wright, and the probation officer assigned to Davis’ case. The judge added that she has never set conditions of community supervision as a “punishment” and the conditions she set for Davis were not “outside of the ordinary and common conditions of any other individual with similar circumstances.”
At a compliance hearing on December 9, 2019, Judge Uzomba asked Davis if he attended the MOTC retreat on December 5-8, 2019. Davis responded he had not, and Judge Uzomba ordered him taken into custody. For a few hours, Davis remained handcuffed and detained in the jury box and subsequently in a holding cell.
According to the filing, Uzumba told the Commission, “I willingly acknowledge that I have made mistakes as a new judge pursuing my belief of restorative and rehabilitative justice. However, I reaffirm that any mistakes I made were isolated and made in good faith, without any improper purpose.”
The Commission determined that Judge Uzomba should be publicly reprimanded for her failure to comply with the law and maintain professional competence in the law” for her handling of the Davis case, including detaining Davis for allegedly violating a condition of his community supervision regarding attending a certain MOTC retreat which was not ordered in the case. The reprimand also was for Judge Uzomba’s failure to be patient, dignified, and courteous to Davis.
Judge Uzomba assumed office in 2018. Her current term ends on December 31, 2022. The Judge’s Courtroom is located at Cadena-Reeves Justice Center 300 Dolorosa in San Antonio and can be reached at 210-335-2573.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.