Harris County Judge Ed Emmett: Not an ethics case

February 24, 2012 4:06:26 PM PST
We're hearing more reaction to the recent arrest of the chief legal counsel to the Harris County Judge. He was charged with deadly conduct -- accused of hitting a woman with his car while trying to leave without paying his towing bill.

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett maintains that this particular arrest has nothing to do with the current ethics movement. But others say this has plenty to do with ethics.

Two days after his chief legal counsel was arrested and charged with deadly conduct, Harris County Judge Ed Emmett continued to defend his employee.

"This is not an ethics issue," he said. "This has nothing to do with county employment. It's no different than a traffic ticket."

But Wednesday's incident at a tow lot was not Bill Henderson's first brush with the law. In 1998, while still a family court judge, Henderson pled guilty to contempt of court and was sentenced to one year of probation. In 2003, he pled guilty to resisting arrest and had nine months of probation, but today, the Texas Bar Association said Henderson had no disciplinary history with the state bar.

Judge Emmett said, "It's still a misdemeanor, Miya. Who else have you talked to? I believe a number of people have told you the same thing, but you haven't shown them on air, why not?"

We have talked to a number of people who work in Harris County, all have declined comment citing the sensitive nature of the situation. Even the county attorney's office has not spoken.

But veteran criminal defense attorney Chip Lewis says the lack of an ethics investigation or even a concern relating to this case is troubling.

Lewis said, "When his lawyer, not just a private citizen, a lawyer, commits a deadly conduct, at minimum I would expect him to be the first person to say this person needs to be fired."

A lot of people are asking why there's not an ethics investigation. The judge maintains this has nothing to do with his ethics committee. We were not able to reach any of those committee members willing to talk on the record.