Group pursuing legal petition to remove Smith Co. Judge

Group pursuing legal petition to remove Smith Co. Judge

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - An East Texas grassroots organization says they are moving forward with a legal petition to remove Smith County Judge Joel Baker after he has showed no signs of resigning following accusations he was sexting a woman while on state and county trips.

KLTV 7 Investigates reported Baker is accused of sending more than a thousand sexually explicit messages to a woman he met on Facebook but never met in person. He also sent photos of his genitals to the woman. The series of Facebook messages, texts and phone calls also reportedly happened while Baker was attending a meeting of the State Commission on Judicial Conduct in Austin and a conference for county commissioners courts held in College Station.

Baker resigned his position on the state commission and after the report aired, they launched their own investigation into the judge who used to serve as their vice chair.

Since the judge has refused to resign after repeated calls from citizens and calls from two of the commissioners, Grassroots America We The People said they are moving forward with an attorney to remove the judge from office.

"Joel Baker has lost any sort of moral ground which he can continue serving as judge," Executive Director Joann Fleming said Tuesday.

Fleming's group was quick to call for Baker's resignation after the report aired and said the legal action must be done since the county judge presides over sensitive issues such as mental health commitments and probate hearings.

"Smith County citizens should not tolerate this kind of behavior out of an elected official," Fleming said. "If he's not willing to do that then the only avenue we have is a petition in a district court and we expect to move forward with it."

Fleming, a former county commissioner who served with Baker, said there is no timeline for their group to file the petition but they plan on having a way for eligible members of the public to put their names on the legal filing as complainants.

Judge Baker has been asked repeatedly for comment on this story since before it was first aired on March 14; he has denied comment other than public comments before the commissioner's court.

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