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Abuse, Sexual Harassment, Retaliation Alleged

Posted Tuesday November 23, 2010 10:34pm

Federal Lawsuit Alleges Verbal Abuse,
Sexual Harassment, and Retaliation

Former County Court at Law No. 3
Judge Don Higginbotham Accused

Investigative Report by Ken Martin
© The Austin Bulldog 2010

Don HigginbothamWhat started out as a sexual harassment complaint against Williamson County Court at Law No. 3 Judge Donald Higginbotham has turned into a full-blown federal lawsuit that adds retaliation to the allegations.

Gregg RosenbergAttorney Gregg Rosenberg of the Houston firm of Rosenberg and Sprovach filed the lawsuit, Kimberly Lee and Sharon McGuyer v. Williamson County, in federal court November 23.

The lawsuit lists more than a dozen instances in which Judge Higginbotham allegedly made comments that were insulting, demeaning, and abusive. Several of the alleged comments involved vulgarity or sexual references.

For example, in “November 2009,” the lawsuit alleges, “Plaintiff Lee was walking in the hallway when Judge Higginbotham turned to her and said, ‘I hate to tell you this, but in those pants you are wearing, you have the ass of a Ni**er.’”

“Also in November 2009, when Plaintiff Lee asked for a peppermint, the Judge said he had something for Plaintiff Lee to suck on,” the lawsuit alleges.

When he found court coordinator Amanda Vega’s vehicle in his parking space, according to the lawsuit, Higginbotham, neck veins bulging, hands clamped into fists, said, “You are nothing but a bunch of fu**ing pukes, nothing but a bunch of go**amn fu**ing pukes! Get out of here and move your car, move it, move it, move it!”

Higginbotham could not be reached for comment.


Long Shot Lawsuit

Posted Thursday August 19, 2010 9:40pm
Georgetown City Attorney Sues to
Keep Performance Reviews Secret
by Ken Martin
© The Austin Bulldog 2010

Greg AbbottMark SokolowGeorgetown City Attorney Mark Sokolow has sued Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott to contest a decision made by the Attorney General’s Open Records Division.

The lawsuit stems from an open records request filed by The Austin Bulldog on May 16 to obtain copies of Sokolow’s written performance evaluations that had been delivered to him by the Georgetown mayor and city council members during closed-door executive sessions.

The Attorney General’s open records decision, rendered in a letter dated August 3, states that the city may withhold a portion of the information in the performance evaluations that is protected by the attorney-client privilege. But, the letter states, “...we find you have failed to demonstrate the remaining information is protected by the attorney-client privilege...and it must be released.”

Sokolow filed the lawsuit, The City of Georgetown v. Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas in Travis County on Friday, August 13. The lawsuit requests that the court find that the remaining information in his performance evaluations is also protected and should be excepted from disclosure under the Texas Public Information Act.

Q&A with Sarah Weddington

Posted Friday July 2, 2010 5:35am
Sarah Weddington
Interview by Gwen Gibson

Sarah WeddingtonIn your trailblazing career you have been an attorney, state legislator, women’s rights activist, general counsel to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, adviser to President Jimmy Carter, and a sought-after speaker and writer. In addition, you teach at the University of Texas and mentor promising students. But you will always be best known as the attorney who successfully argued Roe v. Wade before the Supreme Court at age 27.

Q. This landmark decision, which legalized abortion, has been controversial since it became law 37 years ago. These days opponents seem to be gaining ground as more and more states pass laws that restrict or regulate abortions. The latest Gallup Poll, meanwhile, shows 47 percent of adult Americans are anti-abortion while 45 percent support a woman’s right to choose this procedure. What do you think of these developments? Is Roe v. Wade in serious trouble?

A. First I’ve written several press reports and newsletter documents indicating that one poll you’re citing was not accurate and was a misrepresentation. More people have always said a woman should have the right to choose. But if you get down to asking, “Should she have to consult somebody?” or “Should she have to do it before a certain period?” then you get some real variety.

Q. You think these polls are too nuanced?