Judge taking heat over 2-year-old emails

December 8, 2008 4:11:51 PM PST
A local district judge is being pressured by his own party to resign. The controversy stems from emails he sent two years ago, which community activists find offensive. [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

The emails were sent from Harris County criminal court Judge Larry Standley through his county email account. And now, the local Republican party is expected to ask him to step down.

Judge Standley is known for creative sentences. For instance, in 2004, he required a convicted wife abuser to attend a year of yoga. But he's now known as the judge who sent a several questionable emails.

One is a review of a short movie with the words "Gay" and an African-American slur in the title. Part of the email said "the narrator informs us that the gay ***** comes from the planet *****, where they have been able to create a male only way of living."

Fellow Republican Judge Michael Fields received the email.

"When you see something like that, your initial reaction is disturbance. You're disturbed by it and you're wondering why the person sent it and what's going on with the person who sent it," said Fields. "Then you take the action you believe is appropriate at the time."

Judge Fields spoke up about the emails, and as a result, he said other judges shunned him. And the issue didn't come up again until earlier this year when he was up for a judicial appointment.

Judge Fields didn't get the appointment. The resulting dust-up got the attention of the Harris County Republican chair, who saw the emails, and demanded action.

"This is an individual who has been given the trust of the people. The people have placed in him the honor of being a judge," said Harris County Republican Chair Jared Woodfill. "When you breech that trust, it's time to step down."

The party can't force the judge to resign, though public pressure is mounting. On Monday, a group of ministers said they also want Standley out.

"How can a man with that important of a position sit in judgment of people who come before him?" asked Pastor James Nash with Ministers Against Crime.

Members of the Harris County Republican party were meeting Monday night. They cannot force Judge Standley to step down, but they can censure him.

We tried to talk to Judge Standley on Monday. He refused to comment.

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