SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - Smith County Judge Joel Baker has resigned from the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.
Baker submitted his letter of resignation March 4. The county said serving on the commission is voluntary will not affect his service as an elected official. On Monday, the county released Baker's letter to Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman:
"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 a letter to the commission's executive director, Seana Willing, and obtained through an open records request, Baker expanded on his reasons for leaving, noting the death of a family member.
"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 my job second.
After much thought, consideration, and prayer, I realize that it its 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 decisions regarding professional responsibilities I have and commitments I have made, including my duty to the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.
For these reasons I intend to contact the Supreme Court and ask that they begin the process of selecting a new appointee to fill the county judge position on the commission. I will be happy to remain active on the commission and to fulfill my duties with regard to this important appointment until my positions is filled if that is the desire of the Supreme court and/or the commission.
It has truly been an honor and privilege for me to work with you and your staff along with all of the wonderful people who have served and continue to serve on the commission."