Harris Co. judge sentenced to jail, posts bond

December 21, 2009 4:36:10 PM PST
A judge was led away from a courtroom Monday on his way to jail. He will spend the next 30 days behind bars, convicted of trying to solicit sexual favors from a defendant. On Monday evening, Judge Donald Jackson was granted what is called an appeals bond. Since his attorneys plan to appeal, everything is put on hold and the judge is free on $5,000 bond. His attorneys also told us that he will get a credit for one day served for his time spent in jail on Monday.

The sentence remains 30 days, but exactly when the judge will serve that time remains unclear.

For more than 12 years, Judge Donald Jackson presided over the freedoms of defendants who came across him in his court of law. Now it is his own freedom in jeopardy as he is prepared to spend the next 30 days in jail.

An angry Judge Mark Kent Ellis admonished Judge Jackson, asking him, "How stupid can you be?" That was before he sentenced Judge Jackson to 30 days in jail and two years probation for official oppression. It was a sentence that satisfied prosecutors.

"I think it tells the community that the ideal here, that he was held to the same standards, have the same trial as anybody here," said prosecutor Lance Long.

The judge was convicted of soliciting sexual favors from Ariana Venegas, a DWI defendant in his court, in exchange for help on her case. On Monday, Venegas' attorney says she is relieved by the outcome, and the harsh words Judge Ellis said in court.

"My client is grateful for that. The judge's words had a lot of iron in them, that are very much appreciated by my client," said Rob Todd, Venegas' attorney.

Judge Jackson was taken into custody after the sentencing, but he was free this past weekend after his conviction. When questioned about that, defense attorneys were not happy.

"He wasn't taken into custody immediately, he's back in a holding trial, he's not getting any special treatment, don't play that card with me, he's as about unspecial as he can get right now," said Dan Cogdell, attorney for Judge Jackson.

Cogdell says he will appeal and Judge Jackson does have his supporters, including his tearful wife who says she still supports her husband.

Judge Ellis suspended Jackson's pay during his time behind bars. It is up to county commissioners to appoint a replacement for him.


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