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Judge Reprimanded For Drinking Evidence and Fondling Prosecutors

February 10, 1995

HOUSTON (AP) _ A judge on the bench for more than a decade has been publicly reprimanded for fondling female prosecutors and drinking the evidence in a drunken driving case.

``When such behavior and impairment is witnessed by jurors and other members of the public, it destroys the authority and credibility of the judge, and damages the public faith in the judicial system,″ said the rare reprimand by the state Commission on Judicial Conduct.

In one incident cited by the panel, Harris County Criminal Court-at-Law Judge J.R. Musslewhite told a female prosecutor he ``loved″ the way she blew her bangs out of her face.

He then told a defense lawyer in the courtroom that he ``couldn’t wait to get the prosecutor back to his office,″ the commission said.

The commission also said that Musslewhite, 59, first elected to the bench in 1980, fondled female prosecutors’ buttocks and nudged one’s breast during incidents in 1992 and 1993.

Another allegation was that in 1993 the judge drank an alcoholic beverage that had been admitted into evidence.

The commission said that when a prosecutor informed the judge that he was drinking the state’s evidence, the judge responded: ``Yeah, I am sure glad you lost so that I didn’t have to preserve this evidence.″

Musslewhite was on vacation this week and not available for comment, his court coordinator, Brenda Sims, said Thursday. He can appeal the reprimand, which was issued Feb. 3.

First Assistant District Attorney Don Stricklin said he was disappointed because the public reprimand stopped short of suspending the judge, placing him on probation or removing him from office.

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