On Thursday, November 30, 2023, KSAT reported that an administrative judge granted recusals in three felony cases being heard by 187th District Court Judge Stephanie Boyd. According to court records obtained by KSAT Investigates, the administrative judge recused Judge Boyd from an injury to a child causing serious bodily injury case and two indecency with a child cases.

The recusals came following complaints about Judge Boyd livestreaming courtroom proceedings on her personal YouTube channel and allowing viewers to comment in real-time. Defense attorneys expressed concerns to KSAT and in a formal complaint filed with the State Commission on Judicial Conduct. They argued that the live commenting subjected lawyers and clients to abusive and disparaging remarks from online viewers.

One case involved defendant Wilberth Villamil, who was originally scheduled to plead no contest to aggravated sexual assault of a child in Judge Boyd’s court in exchange for a 15-year sentence. However, during the July 6 hearing when comments insulted Villamil, Judge Boyd questioned whether she should accept the plea deal. When Villamil described the assault, Judge Boyd said she would accept 20 years instead of 15. The hearing was subsequently delayed and the case transferred to the 227th District Court, where Villamil later pleaded no contest and received the original 15-year sentence.

The formal complaint against Judge Boyd claimed her statements and allowing live commenting violated the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct. While Judge Boyd said she could not comment on sealed matters, the incident highlighted defenses’ issues with her courtroom’s YouTube livestreaming and the potential for commentary to inappropriately influence proceedings.

 

Source: KSAT