KILLEEN — A Bell County justice of the peace arraigned her own son at 7 a.m. Thursday after he was arrested for reportedly driving while intoxicated.
Justice of the Peace Claudia Brown arraigned Kevin Anton Davis, 55, of Killeen and set his bond for the misdemeanor at $2,000.
Brown found that there was sufficient probable cause to support her son’s arrest, according to an arrest affidavit obtained Thursday by the Telegram. She signed the affidavit at 7:06 a.m., which is almost an hour before her office opens at 8 a.m., according to the Bell County website.
Brown did not answer calls from the Telegram Thursday evening.
Brown has been under a microscope since February, when the Telegram broke the story of Brown setting a record-setting $4 billion bond for a murder suspect. Brown then followed that action with very low bond amounts set for violent felony offenders.
In an interview with the Telegram, Brown said she wanted to make her point that the legal system is broken because bonds for suspects are set so high that they have to stay in jail until their cases go to trial.
During a March 9 petition hearing, a visiting judge decided there was enough evidence to bind Brown over for a jury trial to act on a petition to remove her from office.
Until Thursday, Bell County Attorney Jim Nichols was participating in discussions with Kerr County District Judge Stephen Ables and Brown’s attorney to see if there was a solution short of a jury trial to determine if Brown is fit to serve as a justice of the peace.
Nichols said he recently talked with Brown’s attorney, but this new situation will need to be addressed in connection with any pending or new litigation.
The Bell County District Attorney’s office monitors Brown’s bond-setting activity and filed several successful motions to have bonds raised.
Conflict of interest
The Texas Rules of Civil Procedure outlines the grounds for recusal and disqualification of judges in civil cases, but doesn’t so much deal with criminal procedures, Ken Vinson, the executive director of the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, said Thursday.
Nichols confirmed Davis’ arraignment by Brown to the Telegram and said that, in his opinion, it could be an ethics violation.
Nichols personally believes that what Brown did is a conflict of interest, but whether it is a violation or not is up to the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, he said Thursday.
“One should always try to avoid even the slightest appearance of partiality in proceedings. Ultimately, whether it is against her (Brown’s) oath or a canon of ethics, the commission will be responsible for deciding that,” he added.
Nichols was positive the new information will be brought to the commission’s attention, he said.
Vinson referred a Telegram reporter to Rule 18B, which outlined the grounds for both disqualification and recusal. Two of the reasons a judge must disqualify in a proceeding are if the judge knows that, individually or as a fiduciary, the judge has an interest in the subject matter in the controversy or if either of the parties may be related to the judge by affinity or blood relation within the third degree.
A proceeding includes pretrial, trial or other stages of litigation. The degree of relationship is calculated according to the civil law system.
Rule 528 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure states that a justice should transfer any suit where it’s believed that the justice can’t give a fair and impartial trial. The suit could be transferred to the nearest justice within the county not subject to the same or some other disqualification.
A Killeen Police officer was sent at about 2:11 a.m. to assist another officer on a reckless driver call. The driver, later identified as Davis, was driving eastbound on West Elms Road in a black 1999 Jeep Cherokee. The vehicle was on its rims and shooting sparks from the front tires, a probable cause affidavit said.
When the Jeep stopped in the 4700 block of West Elms Road, the right front wheel was ground almost in half from being driven on and the front left headlight wasn’t working.
The officer said he smelled a strong odor usually associated with alcoholic beverages coming from the inside of the car, and then he saw an open container of alcohol within an arm’s reach of Davis, just behind the front passenger seat. Davis’ eyes were glassy and his speech was slow. He told the officer that he didn’t know his vehicle was damaged. Davis said he was trying to get home and the open container didn’t belong to him, the affidavit said.
Davis said he would take the field sobriety tests, and the officer saw several things that made him believe that Davis was impaired. He arrested him for driving while intoxicated, and Davis provided a breath specimen but not a blood specimen.
The intoxilyzer results were 0.0, which made the officer believe that Davis was under the influence of something other than alcohol. Also found in the vehicle were eight bottles of prescription medicine Davis admitted to taking. He said the medications didn’t affect his driving, the affidavit said.
Davis was not taken to the Bell County Jail after the arrest Thursday, but was probably taken to the Killeen City Jail, Bell County Chief Deputy Chuck Cox said.
Killeen Police Department spokeswoman Ofelia Miramontez didn’t respond Thursday to a phone call or email to ask questions about Davis’ arrest and if he spent any time in jail.
Davis has a record of felony and misdemeanor convictions, according to the Department of Public Safety criminal records website.
He was convicted on Feb. 4, 2009, in Bell County for the Dec. 15, 2008, forgery of a financial instrument charge, a state jail felony. He received a two-year suspended sentence and five years probation for the felony. However, his probation was revoked on May 16, 2012, and Davis was sentenced to 21 months in jail after a conviction for theft of property more than $500 but less than $1,500.
Davis was last discharged from prison on Nov. 15, 2013, records indicated.