TEMPLE, Texas — Bell County Justice of the Peace Claudia Brown, a judge who was removed from the bench, in part, for setting a $4 billion bond, said Friday that her supporters are comparing her to Rosa Parks.
In a text exchange with KCEN Channel 6 reporter Bary Roy, Brown said, “During this Black History Month, my supporters are calling me their Rosa Parks because she broke a Jim Crow law, and now we all can sit at the front of the bus.”
When Roy asked Brown to elaborate, she said she’d have to charge for her time.
“It is intellectual property at this point and I must charge $250 per hour, up front (an) appointment,” Brown said.
Brown also left a voicemail with Roy to the same effect.
The conversation came after three days of testimony in which 13 witnesses took the stand to determine if Brown should be removed from office. In a unanimous decision, Brown was removed from her seat.
A petition filed by Killeen attorney Brett Pritchard called into question whether Brown was fit to be an elected Justice of the Peace partly because of an unconstitutional $4 billion bond set in February 2017. Brown was also called into question for hearing a DUI case regarding her son and setting his $2,000 bond, despite the ethical conflict of interest.
Brown said in the past she believes the case brought against her is racially motivated.
During the trial, Brown's attorney, David Fernandez, brought up a question of race. Roy asked him why.
"Well, I would have thought by 2018, 2019 there wouldn't be any racism or much over racism in Bell County," Fernandez said."I've lived here since 1951, but the KKK was passing out fliers in black neighborhoods last year when Mr. Driver was running. There's a statue to the Confederate heroes at the Bell County Courthouse in downtown Belton where they were flying the Confederate Flag not 30 days ago. That statue should not be there. That flag should not be there. There's nothing heroic about slavery."
Fernandez said he felt like the trial was fair.
"Oh yes, she had a fair trial. We had a jury that reflected the community. There were blacks, Hispanics, whites. So, we were very happy with the jury that we got," Fernandez said. "There were obviously some rulings that we did not agree with, but that happens in every trial."
The jury on Thursday found that Brown was reckless, and showed incompetence in 16 of the 17 allegations against her. The only allegation the jury abstained from was regarding whether Brown acted recklessly when she set a bond of $15,000 for a 17-year-old charged with having less than two ounces of marijuana.
Brown is the first public official to be removed from office in Bell County in 33 years.
Her attorney, David Fernandez, said he isn’t sure if she will appeal the decision.
The Bell County commission will discuss the process to fill Brown’s position Tuesday at 9 a.m.