Harris County judge accused of unlawfully arresting former TV journalist

Saturday, July 2, 2022
Harris Co. judge accused of unlawfully arresting former TV journalist
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A Harris County judge is accused of unlawfully arresting and detaining a former ABC13 investigative reporter.

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- Late Friday afternoon, the Fort Bend County District Attorney's Office decided not to pursue the case against Harris County Judge Darrell Jordan.

In a statement, the DA confirmed the grand jury had returned an indictment but did not feel there was enough evidence to prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt at trial. Therefore, the DA is dismissing the case.

As of Saturday morning, Jordan remained suspended without pay. However, it is likely the State Commission on Judicial Conduct Commission will reinstate him now that he is no longer facing criminal charges.

Judge Jordan was out on bond, accused of official oppression. Judge Darrell Jordan is the judge in Harris County Criminal Court at Law Number 16.

Court documents show Judge Jordan alledged unlawfully arrested and detained former ABC13 Investigative Reporter Wayne Dolcefino in June 2020. At the time, Dolcefino was working for his own private company and sought to question Jordan about criminal complaints that weren't moving forward in Jordan's court.

Undercover video of the confrontation, provided by Dolcefino, shows he and the judge exchanged greetings, but as the pleasantries turned to questions, the judge told Dolcefino he couldn't talk. As questions continued, the judge warned Dolcefino to leave and then held him in contempt, jailing him for hours before a hearing at which Dolcefino was sent to the Harris County Jail for Direct Contempt. Dolcefino was sentenced to three days in jail, six months probation, and a $500 fine.

The indictment says the judge wrongfully held and punished Dolcefino without a hearing.

"The record is clear," Dolcefino told reporters Tuesday afternoon, "if I did not have a hidden camera on me that day, Judge Jordan would not have been indicted. No one would've been able to sort of argue about the violation of my rights that day within three hours I was convicted of, of this offense and thrown in jail and then put on probation."

Dolcefino urged the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct to suspend, if not completely remove, Judge Jordan from the bench. "They have the authority, they've done it in far lesser cases and it's time for the Judicial Conduct Commission to let the public know that this kind of stuff won't be tolerated."

Judge Jordan is out on bond for the misdemeanor charge of Official Oppression and is currently serving at the Texas border with the National Guard. Both Dolcefino and Jordan's attorney tell ABC13 felony charges were investigated, but not indicted.

The case is being handled by the Fort Bend County District Attorney's office, after the Harris County DA recused their office from the case.

Jordan's attorney, Marc Carter, denies Dolcefino's rights were violated at all and told us, "There's nothing here. This is absolutely absurd. There is no dispute the conduct was contempt. Without punishment for contempt, our courts would be chaos."