WACO, Texas — Former Justice of the Peace Claudia Brown said her removal from office was unjust and should not be upheld. She spoke for the first time since her removal from office to Channel 6 reporter Emani Payne.
"This is bigoted. It's biased. It's bologna,” Brown said. “Had I been a different color, a different gender, a different political party, then this never would've happened."
Brown filed an appeal with the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on March 12, hoping to reverse the decision.
Brown made headlines for setting a historic $4 billion bond for a murder suspect in 2017 she said to raise awareness for a broken justice system. The same year, she was called into question for setting her own son's bond in a DWI case. She was removed from office following a jury trial in February. The jury found her unfit to hold office.
"I'm guilty of being a Democrat. I'm guilty of being black. I'm guilty of being a woman,” Brown said. “I am not guilty of being crazy and I'm not guilty of being incompetent."
Brown claims the order to remove her from office due to incompetence has not been proven, citing her extensive educational and professional background. Brown said she holds a PHD, served as a Killeen City Council member and school principal in Maryland among other accomplishments.
"Why was it so critical for me to have to go so quickly? They wanted to make an example of me and they were successful," Brown said.
Brown called the decision double jeopardy. She said she received public reprimand and was cited by the Texas Judicial Conduct Commission for the two bond setting incidents. She said she feels she was tried twice for the same incidents.
"I already served my consequences for those two things, now they want to punish me again by taking my job," Brown said.
While Brown said she wants the removal decision reversed, she said she does not want to regain her seat to continue serving but instead she hopes to resign. Brown said serving as Justice of the Peace was her favorite job, but she claims this situation has tainted her experience.
"I pray the court will allow me to resign from office because of the unbearable work environment created by a handful of law enforcement workers and lawyers who colluded to have me removed from office," Brown said.
Brown is also asking the Court of Criminal Appeals to award her $100,000.
"I also pray this Court of Appeals will award me compensation for costs and damages incurred in fighting these procedures unfairly lodged against me in the amount of $100,000,” Brown said. I would have continued to work until my four-year (and) retired in the year 2020 had these unfortunate circumstances not halted my desire to continue working.”
Brown said she was disappointed with the outcome of the trial and with much of the testimony provided. She said if she could go back and undo the historic $4 billion bond, she would. While Brown has obtained numerous community supporters who even created a petition to keep her in office, she's also gained critics who, according to Brown, leave hurtful comments on her Facebook page. Brown said that won't stop her fight to clear her name or her push for criminal justice reform.
Brown, who is 80, spends much of her new found free time playing the piano, enjoying family time and volunteering with community organizations. She doesn't believe she will run for any office again but is still very passionate about the need to lower what she calls excessive bonds in Bell County and across the country.
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