Current and former prosecutors have raised concerns about the iron fist of Bexar County Judge Wayne Christian, who leads all Texas county court-at-law judges in unilaterally granting motions to revoke probation, even when prosecutors disagree.
Juanita Vasquez-Gardner, a former district judge who now leads the misdemeanor division of the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office, told the Houston Chronicle that Christian often doesn’t follow agreements between prosecutors and defense attorneys. The newspaper noted that while that is not against the law, it is unusual.
The 4th Court of Appeals sided in June with Allison Jacobs, who had her probation on a drunken driving charge revoked by Christian after testing positive for methamphetamines. He sentenced her to a year in jail when she was just two weeks shy of completing her probationary period.
Jacobs and her attorney, Jodi Soyars, disputed the test result, saying that a diet pill could have created a false positive. But Christian didn’t grant Soyars a hearing on the drug test question. And prosecutors never had a chance to present evidence. They filed a motion in support of Jacobs’ appeal, saying Christian had violated her constitutional rights, the newspaper reported.
The appeals court wrote that Christian “abused his discretion both by failing to permit the State to satisfy its burden and by refusing to afford Jacobs the minimum requirement of due process.”
Christian ordered 142 motions to revoke probation in 2019 through May, well ahead of his colleagues, the newspaper reported.
“There have been situations where our prosecutors have been placed in positions where they are not in agreement with going forward on a motion to revoke,” District Attorney Joe Gonzales told the Chronicle. “And they have made the decision to not sign off on the motions, and the judge has moved on them on his own.”
The judge did not respond to an interview request from the Chronicle.