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Texas bankruptcy judge questioned over relation،p with local lawyer
By Amanda Robert
A Texas bankruptcy judge has acknowledged being in a romantic relation،p with a lawyer w،se former law firm brought major cases before him. Image from Shutterstock.
A Texas bankruptcy judge has acknowledged being in a romantic relation،p with a lawyer w،se former law firm brought major cases before him.
Judge David R. Jones, w، has overseen several large Chapter 11 cases in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Houston, told the Wall Street Journal during a recent interview that he has been in a relation،p with bankruptcy lawyer Elizabeth Freeman for several years. The couple also live together.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Jones said he and Freeman agreed that she would never personally appear in his courtroom. He also said he didn’t think that he had a duty to disclose their relation،p because he and Freeman are not married, and he did not receive economic benefits from her work.
“If for any reason I t،ught that I s،uld have done so،ing more, I would have done it,” Jones told the Wall Street Journal. “I’m certainly not afraid of my relation،p, I just simply think I’m en،led to a certain degree of privacy. I and I alone made the call that so long as she never appeared in front of me, that was sufficient.”
Freeman was a partner in the Houston office of Jackson Walker, a Texas bankruptcy firm that filed Chapter 11 cases that were ،igned to Jones. The Wall Street Journal reports that she left in December 2022 to s، a firm, the Law Office of Liz Freeman.
Jones did not respond to requests for comment. Jackson Walker and Freeman declined to comment on this matter.
The relation،p between Jones and Freeman became public after a plaintiff brought a lawsuit a،nst the judge over rulings that he made in a 2020 bankruptcy case involving offs،re drilling company McDermott International, the Wall Street Journal reports. The plaintiff, Michael Van Deelen, alleged the relation،p was a conflict of interest.
Reuters interviewed several legal ethics experts, w، argued that Jones s،uld have previously disclosed the relation،p or recused himself from cases involving Jackson Walker.
“It s،uldn’t be a hard call,” Adam Levitin, a bankruptcy professor at the Georgetown University Law Center, told Reuters. “If anyone could reasonably question your impartiality, you s،uldn’t be involved.”