The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has reprimanded U.S. District Judge Walter Smith of Waco for making “inappropriate, unwanted physical and non-physical sexual advances” toward a court employee in 1998 and stopped his new case assignments for one year as punishment.
The Dec. 4 order of reprimand from the Fifth Circuit’s Judicial Council, concludes that Judge Smith “does not understand the gravity of such inappropriate behavior and the serious effect that it has on the operations of the courts.” The order also concludes that Smith “allowed false factual allegations to be made in response to the complaint” that was filed against him September 2014.
However, the disciplinary body ultimately concluded that Smith’s actions do not warrant a recommendation for impeachment. Instead the judicial council imposed the most severe sanction otherwise available to him by suspending his new case assignments, according to the order. “It is imperative that Judge Smith not allow such events to recur and he is so directed,” wrote Carl Stewart, chief judge of the Fifth Circuit, in the order. The order requires Smith to complete sensitivity training to the satisfaction of the Judicial Council before he can resume new case assignments. Smith did not immediately return a call for comment. Neither did Stewart.