After a lengthy career working for the Texas courts and legislature, Jennifer Lundy recently made an announcement on social media.
“I’m happy to share that I’m starting a new position as executive director at Texans for Judicial Accountability!” she wrote.
The former court reporter, campaign manager, and recent director for State Sen. Drew Springer is not only the boss. She’s the founder. Lundy was inspired to launch her Flower Mound nonprofit by the numerous first-hand accounts of judicial misconduct she fielded over the past several years and her own experience being allegedly targeted by a Parker County judge. Lundy asked to conceal the names from her personal story to not disrupt her formal complaint against the judge now under investigation by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct (SCJC).
Early last year and while she was working on a different campaign, the candidate asked Lundy to attend a family court hearing in Parker County because a father involved alleged misconduct on the part of the presiding judge. Lundy said she was asked to go to be able to help her candidate with future complaints from constituents.
“I went to two of the hearings,” Lundy said. “Right before the actual trial began, the judge called the [candidate] I was working for and said if I came back to court that [the judge] would make sure that I do not work in that county again. That certainly upset me.”
The father, who was seeking reunification with his son, sent Lundy evidence of retaliation by judges, similar to Lundy’s experience.
“The father asked if I would get involved,” she said. “I thought about it for a while. I knew it was going to take all of my time, but we have to make changes. That is what got me involved.”
Among the accountability group’s six-part mission statement are calls for judges to be open, professional, and transparent in their dealings.
Judges “should not be swayed by partisan interests, public clamor, or fear of criticism,” part of the mission statement reads at TexansforJudicialAccountability.org, and should not “engage in behavior that is harassing, abusive, prejudiced, or biased.”
Lundy said the group’s long-term goal is to pass legislation that allows scofflaw judges to be easily reprimanded, removed from office, or sued if found to be in violation of ethics guidelines or criminal laws. The group’s proposals include the complete removal of judges from the investigatory process as a means of negating potential bias, the publication of all complaints filed with the SCJC, the placement of cameras in all Texas courtrooms, and the removal of judicial immunity for judges found guilty of misconduct.
The formation of Texans for Judicial Accountability comes as the Weekly is reporting on unprecedented levels of accusations of judicial misconduct. Those violations of ethics guidelines and state laws often go underreported or not reported on at all by daily papers across the state and online outlets. Last year saw around 1,700 complaints filed on a total judiciary of 3,700 judges, which is a pretty damning ratio.
Based on our reporting, judicial misconduct encompasses a wide range of actions, including arbitrary arrests, retaliatory rulings, assignments of unqualified judges, and falsified government documents, among others. SCJC does not disclose which judges are under investigation, but confidential sources have provided me with copies of filed complaints against Tarrant County judges David Evans and George Gallagher and visiting retired judge Daryl Coffey.
Those sources said the very legitimacy of Texas’ judiciary is at stake. Outrage over family court dealings has led to public outcry to boycott family court as a means of bankrupting a system viewed as corrupt and beholden to wealthy parents who can afford lawyers who donate heavily in judicial elections.
Lundy is aware of the enormity of her mission, but her years of networking with Texas legislators and faith that former defendants and parents across the state will join her give her hope.
As sweeping as her proposals are, Lundy is quick to note she is not out to bring down judges.
“There are a lot of good judges,” she said. “It is my goal to shine a light on the unscrupulous judges. They need to be removed, and people need to be able to sue them and press charges on them. There are a lot of things that have been pushed under the covers. They are in an elected position, but they are not any better than any of us.”
Lundy said her board includes an active Texas judge and that many judges have privately told her that her reforms are much needed.
“I’ve been talking to judges because I wanted to see how they felt,” she said. “I have several on our side. One, when he heard what we were doing, got very excited. The commission on judicial conduct will put out public reprimands if you are a judge and you go to someone’s fundraiser, but they will keep it private if you are caught drinking and driving. That’s not right.”
Based on the SCJC’s website, the commission — which, based on its 2022 annual report, has 13 full-time staffers — received more than 6,000 complaints over the past four years and substantiated fewer than 5% of the allegations. Even then, many reprimands were handled in private, meaning the public was never told which judge committed the offense or what punishment was meted out.
The entire judicial system has insulated itself from accountability, she said.
“Every complaint needs to be made public,” she said. “Every conviction needs to be made public along with the consequences.”
Lundy believes the greatest potential pushback from judges may come from her proposal that they publish a finding of facts and conclusion of law for every ruling made during a case, meaning judges need to cite the law and violation for defendants to understand what they are guilty of and why.
Family court judges are notorious for making rulings that routinely sever parental rights without so much as an explanation.
“It is necessary, if they are making rulings, that they need to say why,” she said.
Lundy said judicial misconduct is not a partisan issue and that she will seek political support from Democrats and Republicans. She hopes to work with state legislators to propose comprehensive reforms during the 2025 legislative session. Until then, she is soliciting support from across the state.
“If you want to help, contact me and donate,” she said.
Her email is Info@TexansforJudicialAccountability.org.
“We need to get the word out,” Lundy continued. “Self-governance has always failed. It is used to protect a system that is far past the need for reform.”