JP who set $4 billion bond arraigns own son on DWI charge

Bell County Justice of the Peace Claudia Brown. (Bell County photo/file)
Bell County Justice of the Peace Claudia Brown. (Bell County photo/file)(KWTX)
Published: Jun. 23, 2017 at 9:52 AM CDT
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Embattled Bell County Justice of the Peace Claudia Brown arraigned her own son on a misdemeanor DWI charge Thursday morning after he was stopped by police on suspicion of driving while intoxicated.

Killeen attorney Brett Pritchard said in an email Thursday that the judge’s action in arraigning her son on a criminal charge is a conflict of interest.

Brown arraigned Kevin Anton Davis, 55, of Killeen, at 7 a.m. Thursday for driving while intoxicated and set his bond at $2,000.

Brown signed an arrest affidavit in which she found sufficient probable cause to issue an arrest warrant for her son.

Brown Friday morning had not returned telephone calls to her office.

Brown drew scrutiny last February when she set a $4 billion bond on a murder suspect, which she said she did to draw attention to inappropriate bonds being set in Bell County for violent felony suspects.

She said she wanted to draw attention to the fact that many bonds are set so unreasonably high that defendants can’t make bond and many remain in jail until trial.

On March 9 a visiting judge, hearing a petition filed by Pritchard seeking Brown’s removal from office, ordered that enough evidence against Brown existed to bind her over for a jury trial on the removal issue.

Bell County Attorney Jim Nichols participated in the initial discussions when Kerr County District Judge Stephen Abels and Brown’s attorney were seeking a solution to the issue short of having a jury trial.

The Bell County District Attorney closely monitors bonds that Brown sets and has been successful in seeking increases in some cases where prosecutors think bonds were set too low.

Local attorneys who spoke with KWTX said they believe the incident may have created a conflict but the final determination would be left to the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct.

State law requires that any judge or justice who thinks a particular case could create question about fairness should be transferred to another court.