The comments were made to an assistant district attorney who happens to be Jewish, from New York, and the proud wearer of a full beard. To the district attorney’s secretary, Schildknecht referred to him as a “New York Jew”, a comment she later claimed referred to where he was from and his religion, not his physical appearance. According to the judge, she feels it justified as the district attorney seems to have a completely different perception of the legal process in comparison to what is considered the norm in Texas.
So should she have been publicly admonished for that statement?
Before you make a decision, understand that the commission was also concerned about a marathon court session, where the judge refused to allow any of the participants a formal break to eat, drink or use the restroom. This lasted from 1 pm until 4 am the following day. According to the judge, it was necessary in order to cut down on jail over-crowding. Then there was the time when she refused admission of the same district attorney into her courtroom, telling the bailiff that she did not want to see his face. According to her, it was because he was there after court had adjourned for the day.
If that wasn’t enough, there was also an incident where she told an assistant district attorney that his beard made him look like a Muslim. She then proceeded to tell him that she would not hire him that way. In her defense, this was said during downtime.
According to the commission, this comment along with the other shows a religious or cultural bias, not befitting a Texas judge. Or maybe she just doesn’t like beards? If that’s the case then it is she who is out of place, as beards in Texas are very common. Practically everywhere you turn you are going to find a southern gentleman who has mastered the art of using his beard trimmer and beard balm like Liberty.
For punishment, Schildknecht was publicly admonished for her behavior, and she must spend four hours with a mentor in order to receive lessons on how to conduct herself in court, and not express any bias. Considering that are state is often seen as being openly prejudicial to outside cultures, having a judge behave in this way only hurts the reputation of our judicial system.
Thankfully, this did not occur in Plano but as fellow Texans, we have a vested interest in what law officials and court employees are doing across the state. Had that happened here, the punishment likely would have been more severe.