Local Judge Steps Aside In Wrongful Death Lawsuit

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WACO (October 11, 2012)--A Waco federal judge has recused himself from any further hearings concerning a wrongful death lawsuit that was heard in his court in February and from any other proceedings that involve the lawyer who filed the lawsuit, which stemmed from 2008 beating death of Hank Johnson in a motel room in Hearne.

Police believed Johnson was attacked during a robbery, but no arrests were ever made.

Bryan attorney Ty Clevenger represented Johnson’s mother and estranged wife in the suit and in February won a more than $8 million judgment.

Jurors found that Trae Thompson was responsible for deadly July 10, 2008 beating, which happened while Johnson was staying at the Executive Inn motel in Hearne.

The jury also found Thompson converted Johnson's property to his own use and stole property from Johnson.

In all, the jury awarded $8,659,400 in damages.

Some legal issues remain, and Clevenger has filed a motion in Smith’s court seeking information about what happened to money from the sale of the motel where Johnson was killed.

But on Wednesday the court issued the following order signed by Smith:

"Due to a personal conflict between Plaintiffs attorney (Clevenger) and the Court, recusal is necessary in this case and all other cases in which Plaintiffs counsel appears."

"The Clerk of the Court shall randomly draw the name of another western district judge to preside over this case."

Clevenger said Thursday he had sent a letter to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee asking for an investigation of Smith for misconduct.

He said he posted the letter on his blog and said he thinks Smith must have seen it.

On his blog, Clevenger wrote that he sent a letter to the chairman of the committee about a U.S. district Judge in Washington, D.C. and included an addendum about Smith in which he asked for an investigation into whether Smith is fit to serve.