Following allegations of judicial misconduct, the State Commission on Judicial Conduct is launching an investigation into the recent activity of Smith County Judge Joel Baker.

The SCJC released the following statement to KETK:

“The Commission has been made aware of the allegations…concerning the conduct of former Commission member, Judge Joel Baker. In light of the information contained in the media story, the Commission will be initiating an investigation into the alleged conduct of the judge. No further statements will be issued at this time,”

The announcement by the Commission, in which Judge Baker was recently a member of, was made after Judge Baker was accused of lewd conduct by a woman in Smith County. However, the woman, who is accusing Judge Baker, also admitted to engaging in inappropriate behavior, according to reports.

Baker was appointed to the commission in July 2009 by the Texas Supreme Court. According to the State Commission on Judicial Conduct website, Baker’s term was set to expire on November 19, 2017.
On Monday, after receiving calls from KETK, Casey Murphy, the public information officer for Smith County, released the following letter on behalf of Baker in which Baker said he resigned from his appointed position for “personal and family reasons.”
“After much thought, consideration and prayer, I have made the difficult decision to resign my position as the county judge representative on the State Commission on Judicial Conduct for personal and family reasons. My term as commissioner runs through the end of 2017, and, if it is the will of the court and the commission, I am more than happy to continue to serve until the Supreme Court decides on a replacement. If it is helpful, I would suggest that your staff contact Gene Terry, the Executive Director at the Texas Association of Counties, for a recommendation on the right person to fill my position. I truly appreciate the opportunity the Supreme Court has given me to work with this important commission, and it has truly been a professional privilege. If there is anything I can do to assist you with the replacement process, please contact me.”
In the e-mail from Murphy, she states Baker would not comment further on his decision to leave the commission.
However, KETK obtained a second letter to the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, as well, in which Baker goes into detail about his “reasons” for leaving the commission.
“Over the past year, I have been dealing with the loss of my father, great professional obstacles, and deeply personal emotions. I have suffered a great amount of stress, anxiety, depression, and grief. These issues have affected me, and my reaction to all of the external pressure has almost caused the destruction of my family. I want closure and healing for me and my family, and I need my priorities to be on my family first, and second my job. After much thought , consideration, and prayer, I realize that it is vital that I restructure my life so that I and my family can become whole again. I know that I must take steps to improve my physical and emotional health and the well-being of my family. This realization has prompted me to make  difficult decision regarding professional responsibilities, I have an commitments I have made, including my duty to the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.”

In November 2015, KETK confirmed the FBI and Texas Attorney General’s Office’s investigation of the Smith County Commissioners Court.
The investigation surrounds an alleged illegal executive session meeting on August 12, 2014, in which the commissioners agreed to purchase traffic cameras.
Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham recused himself from the case on May 21, 2015. Prosecution will be handled by a prosecutor from the Attorney General’s Office.
In April 2015, Baker announced Smith County had entered into an agreement with American Traffic Solutions to launch a school zone safety program. The controversial decision was delayed the following month. A few days after Baker announced the program would be delayed, a Smith County watchdog group filed a formal complaint with the Texas Attorney General’s Office.

On Monday, Grassroots America We The People formally called for Judge Baker to resign from his Smith County.