Smith Co. Judge resigns to resolve sexting investigation - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News


Smith Co. Judge resigns to resolve sexting investigation


Suspended Smith County Judge Joel Baker signed a voluntary agreement September 20 to resign from his position as judge in resolution of the investigation into sexting allegations. 

The State Commission on Judicial Conduct (SCJC) began its investigation on March 15 following a KLTV report  exposing accusations that Baker sent hundreds of sexually explicit messages and images to a woman while on official government business. 

The voluntary resignation agreement signed by Baker and the SCJC chair says the commission is closing its investigation in exchange for Baker's resignation.

See: All KLTV 7 Investigates stories on sexting allegations against Baker

During the course of the commission's investigation, the agreement states "it was...alleged that Baker failed to cooperate with the Commission, failed to timely produce requested evidence, deleted information from his social media account and cell phone before donating the phone to charity...and attempted to influence testimony of a witness."

In the resignation, Baker agrees to have officially and permanently resigned from the office of Smith County judge.  The resignation goes into effect on November 4 or on the day his pending criminal misdemeanor charges are resolved, whichever happens first.    

Baker was indicted by a grand jury on June 16 for alleged violations of the Texas Open Meetings Act.  The SCJC suspended Baker without pay following those charges. 

Related: Grand jury indictment sheds light on charges against Smith Co. judge

Also in the agreement, Baker will be forever disqualified from judicial service in the State of Texas.

The agreement states the resignation is not an admission of guilt or liability by Baker. 

Smith County public information officer Casey Murphy says per the Secretary of State’s office, no special election needs to be held to fill Baker's term which ends December 31, 2018.

The next election for County Judge will be in November 2018.  Commissioners Court will still have to accept Baker's resignation and appoint Acting Judge Nathaniel Moran to the vacant office of County Judge. 

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