Dallas Country District Judge on Wrong Side of the Bench

Dallas County District Judge, Carlos Cortez, is accused of Domestic Violence. Yes, you read that correctly. A District Judge–someone we rely on to uphold the integrity of the law–has been charged with assault family violence, a third-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Cortez presides over the 44th Civil District Court in Dallas, meaning he handles primarily business disputes rather than criminal matters, but he recently found himself in a criminal court across town.

The allegations stem from an incident that occurred at his Uptown condominium on December 28th. According to the Dallas Morning News, recently released Dallas P.D. warrant documents claim that Cortez grabbed and swung his girlfriend of one year by the hair, then dragged her to his balcony located on the 20th floor. He then bent her backwards over the balcony railing, put his hands around her throat and threatened to kill her. He let her go but later slapped her with an open palm as she was attempting to leave with her 7 year old son.

These accusations would be shocking against anyone, but they are particularly so in this case because of Cortez’s position. Most Texas citizens probably do not realize the amount of power that District Judges have over the day to day operations of any Texas courtroom. To name just a few of their responsibilities, District Judges rule on evidentiary decisions (meaning what evidence is and isn’t getting into court), jury charges and manage the enormous case loads suffocating Texas courtrooms, particularly large city courts like Dallas. The decisions District Judges make have very real consequences on all of our lives even if you have never stepped foot in a courtroom. Legislatures write laws, but judges are largely responsible for ensuring that those law are followed and respected in Texas courts. Needless to say, Texas citizens place an enormous amount of trust in District Judges like Carlos Cortez.

Cortez’s case is still very young. He has not faced trial and at this point the law presumes that he is innocent. Cortez has denied the allegations and claims that he was actually saving his girlfriend’s life when he held her over the ledge of his balcony. If this case goes to trial it will be up to a Dallas County Jury to decide what happened last December 28th.

Cortez is a Democrat who has held his position since 2006 and is currently seeking re-election to his seat. He faces Bonnie Lee Goldstein in the upcoming Democratic primary. His campaign website has apparently been shut down as of January 10th. No word on whether he keeps himself in that race.