Administrative Judge Susan Brown announced Monday that Judge
Jeth Jones of the 122nd District Court will be disqualified from the case
against accused Santa Fe High School shooter Dimitrios Pagourtzis.
Brown’s decision comes after a motion filed April 3 by
defense attorney Nicholas Poehl called for Jones’ disqualification based on a
previous relationship with an attorney who had been briefly involved in
Poehl also filed a motion for recusal March 14, because
Jones attempted to have Dr. Joseph Penn of the University of Texas Medical
Branch in Galveston’s Correctional Managed Care program perform a new
competency exam on Pagourtzis, which Attorney General Ken Paxton barred him
“We are pleased with this outcome, but not at all
surprised,” Poehl said. “It was crystal clear to us that he should be
disqualified. Actions by Jones will be voided and we will need Pagourtzis to
have his order redone.”
Houston psychologist Karen Gollaher ruled Pagourtzis
incompetent four years ago when he was sent to a state mental hospital, Poehl
Pagourtzis was recommitted four times since then.
A meeting was held Jan. 26 among the defense team, District
Attorney Jack Roady, Assistant District Attorney Kevin Petroff and Jones,
according to Poehl’s court filings. Jones said he would sign a recommitment
order and appoint an independent expert to re-evaluate Pagourtzis, according to
Poehl told Jones it was unlikely Pagourtzis would ever be
declared competent if he was not restored to competency within about 18 months
of commitment and treatment, according to the lawsuit.
Jones told Poehl he was wrong and that Pagourtzis would be
declared competent, according to the lawsuit.
The court signed documents Feb. 1 declaring Pagourtzis mentally
ill, likely to cause harm to others and suffering from mental, emotional and
physical distress and that this would continue for more than 90 days, according
to the lawsuit.
Poehl’s motion for recusal argued that Jones should be
removed because he was in legal practice with Jared Robinson, who’s now judge
of the 405th District Court, according to the motion.
Poehl, Robinson and attorney Robert Barfield spoke to and
provided legal advice to Pagourtzis on May 18, 2018, the day of the shooting,
which created an attorney-client relationship, according to the motion.
Robinson at the time was in practice with Jones through the
firm Jones Robinson LLP, according to the motion. Robinson and Jones
discontinued their association two days later, according to the motion.
“Although Robinson was briefly on the team and in a limited
capacity, Jones is still considered a part of that group,” Poehl said. “Jones
and Robinson are the same person for these purposes.”
Under Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, a judge must be
disqualified from any proceeding in which the judge has served as a lawyer in
the matter in controversy, or a lawyer with whom the judge previously practiced
law served during such association as a lawyer concerning the matter.
Judicial disqualification must meet two prongs: The judge or
the judge’s firm was the attorney for the party in the case, and the matter
before the judge is the same matter that was before the judge or judge’s law
The case is set to be moved to the 56th District Court with
Judge Lonnie Cox presiding.