By Lana Ferguson
The Kaufman County district attorney will not bring criminal charges against a Dallas County judge accused of letting her administrator pretend to be her during a virtual court proceeding in 2021, the office announced Friday.
District Judge Amber Givens was accused of asking her court coordinator Arceola Warfield to act as her during a virtual proceeding in August 2021, according to a November 2021 grievance made by the Dallas County Defense Lawyers Association to the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.
The investigation, which also involved the Texas Rangers, was to determine whether Warfield impersonated a public servant and whether Givens was complicit in the act. It lasted more than a year.
The case was handed over to Kaufman County DA Erleigh Norville Wiley after Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot recused himself.
Givens previously told The Dallas Morning News she had technical difficulties joining the Zoom meeting so she gave her login information to Warfield and called her by telephone.
No one believed Givens was on the call and Warfield “did not induce others to submit to her authority,” according to a statement from Wiley’s office. It said the investigation concluded neither Givens nor Warfield could be held criminally responsible.
Wiley also noted that Givens and her defense team refused to cooperate with the investigation.
“Having served as a judge for ten years in Kaufman County and conducting hundreds of hearings myself during that time, I believe that Judge Amber Givens should have done better that day and in the days after,” Wiley said in the statement. “There may be many reasons to censure the conduct of Judge Amber Givens, but as a prosecutor I find there are no criminal reasons.”
Wiley said no judge is above the law but “turning bad conduct into a criminal matter is not the solution.”
She said Givens will be held accountable by her constituents.
Givens’ attorney Russell Wilson told WFAA-TV (Channel 8) although they were pleased with Wiley’s decision some of the comments “overstepped,” adding that most criminal investigations conclude without additional opinions on the matter.
He called Wiley’s statements “political banter.”
“The bottom line is there was never a crime here and it was plainly obvious,” Wilson told the station.
Warfield’s attorney Valerie Baston told WFAA she was pleased no criminal charges were being brought. She also said Warfield retired from the county this summer.
This story, originally published in The Dallas Morning News, is reprinted as part of a collaborative partnership between The Dallas Morning News and Texas Metro News. The partnership seeks to boost coverage of Dallas’ communities of color, particularly in southern Dallas.