Quorum Report Daily Buzz Quorum Report Daily Buzz Login into the Quorum Report Subscribe toQuorum Report
Quorum Report Daily Buzz

June 23, 2014      10:09 PM

Abbott loses bid to remove Judge John Dietz from school finance case

“One email from him to all the lawyers was sent at 8:40 p.m., a time when many people his age are getting ready for bed,” noted Peeples.

You can see the decision from Judge David Peeples by clicking here.

In a nine-page opinion issued late Monday night, semi-retired Administrative Judge David Peeples showed he both had a healthy sense of humor and carefully weighed the evidence in the state’s effort to remove District Judge John Dietz from the ongoing school finance case.

In his brief opinion sent to lawyers and media alike tonight, Peeples opined that correspondence indicated the state clearly understood the communication between Dietz and plaintiff attorneys, even if the state didn’t recognize the extent of that communication. The extent Dietz’s procedure might be considered rare, if not possibly unique, but it did not meet the legal threshold for impartiality.

“The State knew that the ISD plaintiffs would be drafting proposed (findings of fact and conclusions of law) and sending them to the court,” Peeples wrote in his opinion released tonight. “Submissions from a prevailing party cannot be expected to be neutral and dispassionate, especially in a case like this one. It seems implicit that this procedure contemplated some feedback in each direction, some back-and-forth discussion. All parties must have understood that there would be some give and take, such as: “Let’s keep A, omit B, and modify C. Why do you suggest D? E seems better, but I am interested in your explanation for preferring D.” Is it the better practice to be explicit when deviating from usual procedures? Absolutely! But, as said above, the inquiry in this recusal proceeding is not best practices but whether a judge’s impartiality can be reasonably questioned.”

Hence, despite the vehement objections of Assistant Attorney General Beau Eccles, Peeples could find nothing in the record that indicated bias or partiality in the evidence. That didn’t stop him from taking a poke at Dietz when he noted some of the extraordinary circumstances of the case.

By Kimberly Reeves