Appointed to the Western District of Texas by President Ronald Reagan in 1984, Walter S. Smith Jr. quickly developed a reputation as one of Texas’ harshest federal judges. People who worked with him knew he had a temper.
That’s what a former clerk in Smith’s Waco office says she had in mind when he forced himself on her in the late 1990s. After harassing the woman at work one morning, Smith called her into his office, wrapped his arms around her and shoved his tongue down her throat as he pressed his erection into her, according to a deposition the woman gave in 2014. He tried to direct her toward the couch even as she pulled away and kept saying no.
“I just panicked, and all I thought about was his anger, you know,” the woman testified. “And I was like how am I going to get out of here without making him angry.”
A panel of judges with the federal Fifth Circuit appeals court began investigating Smith after a Dallas lawyer named Ty Clevenger filed a complaint against the judge in 2014. Clevenger wants Congress to impeach Smith for his conduct toward women in his office. In late 2015, the Fifth Circuit judges didn’t recommend impeachment, but rather handed Smith the super serious punishment of barring him from hearing any new cases for a full year. They’ve also asked that the court’s so-called Judicial Council keep investigating Smith for allegations of additional sexual misconduct.
But as the Express-News first reported yesterday, Smith, 75, submitted his resignation to President Barack Obama last week. Which means that, as a retired federal judge, he’ll draw an annuity equal to his current salary of $203,100 per year – for the rest of his life.
There’s much more at the linked article, be warned, there is a great deal of detail about the sexual abuse and harassment. Too little happened to this horrible excuse of a human being, and now, he’s managed to put himself in the cosy position of receiving a great deal of money every year until he dies. Perhaps that won’t be long, given his age, but whether he lives one year or twenty more years, this is a slap in our collective faces of just how rotten the system happens to be. This man has seen little punishment for what he put his co-worker through, and now he gets to be rewarded by a guaranteed golden salary. Saying serious reform is needed is a serious understatement.
Full story at San Antonio Current. Content Note: extensive detail of sexual abuse and harassment.