Claudia Brown — the Bell County justice of the peace who set a record-breaking $4 billion bond she knew was unconstitutional — was offered a deal by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, Bell County Attorney Jim Nichols confirmed Friday.
The commission is investigating complaints against Brown, including a court petition that seeks to remove the Democrat from her elected position.
“The commission considered the initial complaints and some additional complaints,” Nichols said, adding that the preliminary findings would be up to Brown and her attorney to accept or decline.
The terms of the deal weren’t confirmed by Brown’s attorney, Buck Wood, who only said a hearing originally set for Friday with the commission was postponed.
“We’re still in the process of negotiations,” Wood said. “I expect to be successful and there is every reason to believe this will soon be amicably resolved.”
Wood said he believes a resolution could be found in about a week.
Brown, who was sworn into office on Jan. 2, made national headlines after her first month in office when she set a $4 billion bond Feb. 3 for Antonio Willis, a Killeen murder suspect. She told a Temple Daily Telegram reporter she set it to draw attention to what she called a broken legal system and admitted she knew it was unconstitutional.
Brown said she deliberately set the record-setting bond to show “how ridiculous it is for us to be setting bail too high for people to get out of jail.”
“I set it as high as I could to illustrate the fact that it’s ridiculous how we are railroading people without them even having their constitutional rights to a fair trial to determine if they are guilty or innocent,” Brown told the Telegram.
Later, Brown reversed course. She then set much lower bonds, including one for $1,000 on a sexual assault suspect. Continual low bonds led to monitoring by the Bell County District Attorney’s office. Motions from the DA’s office were filed in seven cases to increase the bonds, and each motion was successful.
Brown said she set the bonds low on purpose to allow accused inmates not yet found guilty or innocent to get out of jail faster.
In June, Brown arraigned her son, Kevin Anton Davis, 55, of Killeen, after he was arrested for reportedly driving while intoxicated and set his bond for the misdemeanor at $2,000.
Killeen lawyer Brett Pritchard filed the petition in February to oust Brown from office, which was followed by a complaint filed with the State Commission on Judicial Conduct by Jeff Parker, another lawyer.
In a March 9 hearing, a visiting state district judge ruled there was substantial reason to send Brown to a civil jury trial.
Nichols was named the prosecutor if the case went to trial, and Judge Stephen Ables from Kerr County would be the presiding judge. Ables ruled Brown would continue to serve as justice of the peace pending the case’s final outcome.
Since that time, Nichols has endeavored for nine months to find solutions other than a jury trial — mainly efforts that would allow Brown to stay in her elected position.