Accuser takes stand in judge trial

December 15, 2009 9:08:35 PM PST
A judge accused of offering to dismiss a case in exchange for a romantic relationship. And now, we have testimony from the woman at the center of the case. Shortly after 4pm, the prosecution's star witness in the case took the stand. Ariana Venegas was visibly nervous, and at times, choked back tears, as she testified that on February 19, hours after her DWI court appearance, Harris County Judge Donald Jackson called her and asked to meet up.

"She was approached and essentially propositioned by a judge and offered a chance to have her DWI case dismissed if she did so," said Vanegas' attorney, Rob Todd.

Venegas' allegations are at the center of the official oppression charge against Jackson. Prosecutors say Jackson met up with Venegas at a Starbucks, then took her to a nearby restaurant where he propositioned her. All the allegations were captured by investigator Dan McAnulty, who recorded a conversation he had with Judge Jackson about this incident.

"She got the impression that you wanted to have some sort of relationship with her," McAnulty could be heard saying on the tape to Jackson.

"I don't remember asking anybody ever that has been a defendant in my court to dinner," Jackson said.

Jackson initially denied meeting up with Venegas, but by the end of the 90-minute recording, he changed his tune.

On Tuesday, the judge's attorney turned the tables, alluding that the prosecutor's star witness is simply manipulating the system using her looks.

"We're not bashing the character of anybody," said Jackson's attorney, Dan Codgell. "We're trying to get to whether or not the women is capable of telling truth."

Venegas and her attorneys say she is indeed telling the truth and that Judge Jackson was the one who broke the law.

She doesn't deserve to have her character attacked," said Todd. "She's a good person."

Vanegas will be back on the stand on Wednesday.

If convicted, Judge Jackson faces up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine.


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