AUSTIN, Texas (Legal Newsline)-The Texas Ethics Commission has decided to hold a formal hearing to investigate charges that state Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht accepted an illegal campaign contribution, a watchdog group told Legal Newsline on Friday.
The panel, also on Thursday, postponed the preliminary hearing into charges that Supreme Court Justice David Medina illegally reimbursed himself from his campaign account.
Alex Winslow, spokesman for Texas Watch, which filed the two complaints, said while the commission has agreed to hold a formal, open-door hearing on Hecht's matter, no hearing date has been set.
"We hope its sooner rather than later," he said. "It's already been a year since we filed a formal complaint."
The case against Hecht began in October 2007, when Texas Watch accused the longtime justice of accepting a discount for legal services that was tantamount to an illegal campaign contribution.
The complaint stems from Hecht's representation by the Jackson Walker law firm in a dispute with the Commission on Judicial Conduct in 2006 over his promoting President George W. Bush's short-lived nomination of former White House Counsel Harriet Miers to the U.S. Supreme Court.
As for Medina, Texas Watch filed its complaint against him in January. His matter will be taken up behind closed doors at the next regular meeting of the Ethics Commission in October, when the panel will decide whether the case warrants a formal hearing, Winslow said.
"So, there's no real resolution, but the commission didn't dismiss the complaint either," he told Legal Newsline.
The complaint against Medina alleges that he may have violated state law by paying himself nearly $57,000 from his campaign coffers over three years for mileage reimbursements for commuting between Austin and his Houston-area home.
From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at firstname.lastname@example.org.