Tablet Local

Fort Worth council votes to file complaint against municipal judge

The City Council voted Tuesday to file a complaint of inappropriate conduct against one of its municipal judges with the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct.

Judge Stephanie Beamer, a municipal judge since 2004, was placed on administrative leave with pay in July after several employees reported that she used profanity in the workplace and talked about sexual activities with her husband.

Beamer countered that this is retaliation after she submitted a sexual harassment complaint in May.

The investigation of Beamer was initiated as a result of information obtained during the sexual harassment inquiry, said Bill Begley, a city spokesman. The result of the harassment investigation was not available Tuesday.

The council appoints municipal judges. Her term ends in March.

In response to the council’s decision Tuesday, Beamer said she plans to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Texas Human Rights Commission and to sue the city.

Beamer went to the city’s human resources department “for help and became the target of the investigation,” said Beamer’s attorney, Susan Hutchison. “The information provided in this case meets every element of classic retaliation.”

Beamer said that she does not know who complained about her and that she has not had an opportunity to respond or present her side of the story. If she had used offensive language and made sexual comments at work, she said, the incidents would have been reported to human resources during the almost 10 years she has been on the bench.

“They are paying me to sit at home and do nothing because of this alleged investigation,” Beamer said.

The city attorney’s office sent a letter to Beamer in September stating that a handful of witnesses reported hearing her use profanity in public and that one witness provided a text from Beamer using abbreviations for profanity.

The letter states that Beamer denied the allegations.

Beamer was reinstated Aug. 5 but placed back on leave with pay Sept. 5.

On Tuesday, after meeting in executive session, the council voted unanimously to file the complaint with the state commission. Councilman Sal Espino was absent. Beamer and her attorney were not included in the executive session.

“It would be inappropriate for me to elaborate on the details of the complaints against this municipal judge, but I believe the information gathered from an internal review warrants a formal examination by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct,” Mayor Betsy Price said in a statement. “We believe the Commission is the right body to review this matter.”

Investigations of such complaints can take a few months to more than a year to resolve, according to the website of the Commission on Judicial Conduct. Investigations can include legal research and interviews of witnesses, the judge and the complainant.