For the past three-plus years, Dallas County District Judge Carlos Cortez has been fighting to keep potentially damaging allegations about his personal life secret.
On Wednesday, Cortez lost the fight. A Texas appeals court decided that, even though none of the allegations against him resulted in a formal determination of wrongdoing, they were filed as part of an open court proceeding and therefore should be available to the public.
Suffice to say, it's easy to see why Cortez fought so hard to keep the documents under wraps. The Dallas Morning News, which has been digging on this story for months, has a long and well-researched piece on the allegations, but below are excerpts from depositions given by two women, Melinda Henry and Patti Haynes, with whom Cortez had a relationship.
Strip clubs: Henry testifies that she was a waitress at Silver City Cabaret when she met Cortez around 2005. This was the year before he was elected to the bench, and he was a regular there, showing up around lunchtime and sipping red wine until the evening.
Cocaine: When Henry first met Cortez, she was told by a fellow waitress that he was a reliable source of cocaine, according to her deposition.
Prostitution: Henry, who has a prostitution conviction on her record, also testified that Cortez would pay her for sex:
Paternity disputes: Two days before Cortez was first elected to the bench in 2006, Henry gave birth to a son. She maintains that Cortez is the father. He denies this and won a paternity lawsuit, though Henry's attorneys contended the DNA sample he provided was suspect. She hasn't pressed the issue much because she testified that Cortez threatened her.
Child molestation: Around 1995, when Cortez was fresh out of law school, he moved in with Patti Haynes, a divorced mother of two. Here's testimony from a deposition given by Crystal, who's now 25:
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Cortez has denied all the allegations and others -- of DWI, of unprofessional conduct, of campaign finance irregularities -- raised by the Morning News, and none have led to any criminal convictions. Same with Cortez's most recent brush with the law, an accusation that he choked his girlfriend that went nowhere.
Cortez lost his re-election bid in March to Democratic challenger Bonnie Lee Goldstein. His term ends in January.
This post has been updated with excerpts from recently unsealed court documents provided by Johnston.
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.