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Senate Candidate Behind Bars

March 13, 2000

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Bobby Wightman-Cervantes, seeking the Democratic nomination to take on Texas Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, won’t be out glad-handing voters or passing out campaign leaflets at polling places during Tuesday’s primary.

He’s in jail.

The gadfly lawyer, one of five little-known Democrats vying for the nomination, was arrested at his Dallas home Thursday night and is serving a 90-day sentence for contempt of court.

In a telephone interview Monday from a Dallas County jail, Wightman-Cervantes accused the Dallas judicial establishment of incarcerating him because of his allegations of corruption on the bench.

``They did this to get it out in the press to humiliate me and cost me the election,″ he contended. ``That’s what it’s about.″

Dallas County District Judge David Godbey, who found Wightman-Cervantes in contempt, denied the allegation.

The dispute dates to 1997, when Wightman-Cervantes wrote Godbey a letter accusing the judge of corruption. He filed a motion to have Godbey disqualified from hearing a car accident liability case Wightman-Cervantes had before him at the time. He later sued the judge for $50 million in a separate lawsuit that ultimately was dropped.

Godbey responded by filing a grievance against Wightman-Cervantes with the State Bar of Texas and instigating the contempt charges. ``Mr. Wightman, as a lawyer, wrote a letter to me as judge ... that was contemptuous,″ Godbey said.

Wightman-Cervantes was sentenced to 90 days but remained free as he made unsuccessful appeals in state and federal courts.

``The order says 10 days after any stay is vacated, he is to be picked up,″ Godbey said. ``And that’s what happened. We have no control over the timing. Mr. Wightman had control over the timing.″

The sentencing judge held out the possibility of reducing Wightman-Cervantes’ 90-day sentence, due to end June 6, if he apologizes to Godbey.

``Never,″ said Wightman-Cervantes, who has battled the state bar’s attempt to have him undergo a mental examination.

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