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JUDGE WATCH: Corpus Christi Judge Banales Asked to Be Removed From Case of Big Campaign Supporter

Just last week, we pointed to the new U.S. Supreme Court case that dealt with campaign contributions and judges across the country – with a warning that the judiciary was to avoid even the appearance of impropriety. And we predicted lots of activity based upon this new precedent.

And here it comes ….

Less than a week after Caperton v. Massey came down, Nueces County District Attorney Carlos Valdez has moved for the recusal of Judge Manuel Banales from the pending case of Mauricio Celis. The motion was filed on Wednesday, the US Supreme Court decision came down on Monday.

Seems that Mr. Celis is a well known Democratic fundraiser down in Corpus Christi, and the DA is arguing in his motion to remove Judge Banales that the judge received campaign contributions from some law firms that are somehow connected to Mr. Celis.

Who is Mauricio Celis?

Who is Mr. Celis? Well, he’s interesting. Seems he was convicted last February of pretending to be a lawyer, and he was facing a year in jail, until Judge Banales removed the old trial judge and changed the sentence to 10 years probation. And, he’s still got to face trial on other charges — such as theft, money laundering, and impersonating an officer. (Judge Banales isn’t hearing those charges, he already transferred those matters over to another Nueces County judge.)

Let’s see what happens next week, right?


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