On Friday, November 3, 2023, the Special Court of Review in Texas issued a public warning against Judge Bonnie Rangel of the 171st District Court for conduct during court hearings that violated judicial conduct canons.
The case is entitled “In the Matter of Judge Bonnie Rangel,” with case number SCR 22-0004.
The case originated from four separate complaints filed against Judge Rangel with the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct between 2020 and 2021. After conducting hearings, the Commission found that Judge Rangel violated certain provisions of the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct and issued a public admonition and public warning against her.
Judge Rangel then requested a de novo review of the Commission’s decision by the Special Court of Review, as allowed under the Texas Constitution. The Court held its own evidentiary hearing in July 2023 to review the factual records and legal arguments.
In its ruling, the Special Court of Review found that Judge Rangel did not violate judicial canons by filing a written response to a motion seeking her recusal from a case, overturning one finding by the Commission. However, the Court did find Canon violations relating to Judge Rangel’s interactions in four separate court hearings held between 2020 and 2021.
The hearings involved extended criticism and raised voiced directed at attorneys in different cases. Judge Rangel’s comments ridiculed the medical condition of the defendant and made suggestions about his guilt. Her language and tone during these exchanges were found to violate the requirements of being patient, dignified, and courteous.
After considering various factors such as the nature, frequency, and impact of the conduct, the Court determined Judge Rangel’s violations of the canons warranted the sanction of a public warning. The Court also ordered Judge Rangel to complete specified hours of additional judicial ethics education and mentoring.
Judge Rangel, a member of the Democratic Party, has served as judge of the Texas 171st District Court since 2014. Her current term was set to expire on December 31, 2026. The judge’s courtroom is located at 500 E. San Antonio, Suite 601, 6th Floor, El Paso, TX 79901, and can be reached at (915) 546-2100.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.