Carlos Cortez

From Ballotpedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Carlos Cortez
Placeholder image.png
Do you have a photo that could go here? Submit it for this profile by emailing us!
Court Information:
Texas District 44
Title:   Former judge
Active:   2007-2014
Succeeded by:   Bonnie Lee Goldstein
Past position:   Attorney in private practice
Past term:   1996-2006
Personal History
Born:   1969
Party:   Democratic
Undergraduate:   University of North Texas
Law School:   Texas A&M University
Candidate 2014:
Candidate for:  44th District Court
Position:  Seat 1
State:  Texas
Election information 2014:
Incumbent:  Yes
Primary date:  3/4/2014
Primary vote:  34.1%DefeatedD

Carlos Cortez was a judge for the 44th District Court in Dallas County, Texas.[1] He was first elected to the bench in 2006.[2]

Cortez ran for re-election to the court in 2014 but was defeated in the March 4 primary.[3][4]


Cortez earned an undergraduate degree from the University of North Texas and was awarded a J.D. from Texas A&M University School of Law.[5]




See also: Texas judicial elections, 2014
Cortez ran for re-election to the 44th District Court.
Primary: He was defeated in the Democratic primary on March 4, 2014, receiving 34.1 percent of the vote. He competed against Bonnie Lee Goldstein.[3][7][4]


Cortez was re-elected to the 44th District Court. He defeated Republican Gene Roberts in the general election, winning 50.37 percent of the vote.[8]

See also: Texas district court judicial elections, 2010

In the news

Judge arrested (2013)

Cortez was arrested on December 28 on charges of assault and family violence. He was released on a $15,000 bond. Police were reportedly called to the high-rise condominium building where he lives in Dallas at 2 a.m. on December 27, 2013. Cortez and his girlfriend reportedly met officers in the lobby of the building. The two indicated they had been arguing about what was later learned to be asthma medication that belonged to the girlfriend's son, who also lived in the apartment. The two were then questioned separately.

According to a police report, the girlfriend, a 26-year-old woman, whose name was later announced to be Maggie Strother, showed police the red marks on her neck. She indicated that she and Cortez had been drinking alcohol and later got into an argument. She stated that Cortez

. . .choked her several times over the course of 15 minutes and at one point dragged her by her hair over to the balcony, leaned her over the edge and choked her for approximately 15 seconds straight. . .[2][9]
During the altercation, he also allegedly threatened to kill her.

An attorney for Cortez, Andrew Korn, issued a statement on December 29, regarding his arrest:

Judge Cortez has not been indicted or charged with any offense. [He] will speak specifically to the arrest in any official proceeding that may result. The allegations made by the complainant are false. If necessary, it will be shown in the proper forum that Judge Cortez actually saved her life. Judge Cortez will continue to serve the State of Texas and Dallas County like he has for the last seven years-as an award winning jurist who handles his court with courtesy and dignity to all who seek [j]ustice.[2][9]

Cortez files motion in court; girlfriend claims it's a lie

According to an article in The Dallas Morning News, attorneys for Cortez filed a motion on December 30. In the document, Cortez claims his girlfriend was trying to jump off the balcony of his condo building on the 20th floor in order to commit suicide. He indicated that he told police she was extremely intoxicated after drinking alcohol and taking prescription drugs. Cortez tried to pull her to safety, and she became violent, which made it necessary for him to take extreme measures to restrain her. In the motion, Cortez is requesting that a protective order, granted by a magistrate judge, be thrown out. He claims he informed police of what actually took place during the incident, but none of the things he told them were put in the police report.

According to an attorney for the girlfriend, Ted Steinke, "Cortez' contention that he was saving the woman's life is laughable."[10] Steinke indicated his client was cooperating with authorities but would not be making a public statement at this time.

Ex-girlfriend requests restraining order

According to a February 14, 2014 Dallas Morning News article, Maggie Strother said Cortez "abused her throughout an 'off and on' relationship that lasted 13 months, not just in the December incident that led to his arrest."[11]

In a sworn affidavit she filed with her request for a protective order, Strother provided details about incidents of abuse by Cortez. She also claimed Cortez told her that due to his status and position, no one would take her accusations regarding his treatment of her seriously. In her statement, filed with the court on January 22, 2014, Strother called Cortez "extremely controlling" and claimed, "on several occasions, [she] has felt sexually violated by Carlos." The article noted that Cortez has not been charged with a sex crime.[11] Strother claimed she now fears for her life because she reported the abuse to the authorities.[11]

According to The Dallas Morning News, a hearing regarding the protective order, set for February 18, 2014, was canceled by court officials.[12]

Cortez to face grand jury

A February 18 article in The Dallas Morning News indicated the grand jury took up the case regarding a charge of felony assault against Cortez on February 20, 2014. Cortez remained free on bond. He was represented by two former prosecutors, Kevin Brooks and Peter Schulte, as well as a former Dallas County criminal judge, Vic Cunningham. Former prosecutor, Ted Steinke, continued to represent Strother. None of the parties or attorneys in the case have issued any statements since a gag order was put in place in January by Judge Richard Mays.[11][12]

Grand jury declines to indict Cortez

According to FOX 4 News in Dallas, the grand jury declined to indict Cortez on assault charges stemming from an incident involving his former girlfriend, Maggie Strother, which took place in late December 2013. Strother released a statement yesterday through her attorney stating that she stood by her version of events.[13]

Since a gag order preventing any of the parties from discussing the case was lifted, Cortez offered his side of the story. He and his attorneys appeared on a FOX 4 News broadcast on February 20 and talked about the case. Attorney Peter Schulte indicated there was evidence available that directly disputed claims Strother made to police about events that took place on the night in question. The group offered surveillance video from the condominium building where Cortez lives, as well as another video Cortez took with his camera phone sometime in November 2013. Attorney Kevin Brooks, who also represents Cortez, said they provided both videos to the district attorney's office, but don't know what evidence the grand jury relied upon when they decided not to indict Cortez.[13]

Court records ordered unsealed

Court records related to a defamation suit filed by Cortez in 2010 against his former attorney, Coyt Randal Johnston, were ordered unsealed and open to the public by the Texarkana's Sixth Court of Appeals. Johnston filed a number of documents detailing Cortez's alleged criminal behavior during the 2010 litigation.

The documents filed on the Dallas County court's website, contains sworn testimony from two women, one who claims that Cortez sexually assaulted her when she was child and the other alleging that she was given money by Cortez in order to purchase cocaine.

Cortez was arrested on the sexual assault charges in 1999 but was never prosecuted. He had been fighting the legal battle to keep the documents sealed for the past three years.[14][15]

See also

External links


  1. Dallas County, Texas, "44th District"
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Dallas News, "Dallas district judge arrested on assault charge, police report says," December 28, 2013
  3. 3.0 3.1 Texas Secretary of State, "2014 March Primary Election Candidate Filings by County (A-L)"
  4. 4.0 4.1 Dallas County Board of Elections, "Democratic Party Primary Election March 4, 2014," March 11, 2014
  5. Facebook, "Judge Carlos Cortez, About," accessed December 31, 2013
  6. Dallas County, Texas, "44th Judicial District Court, Hon. Carlos R. Cortez," accessed December 31, 2013
  7. Texas Secretary of State, "2014 March Primary Election Candidate Filings by County (M-Z)" (Search "Dallas")
  8. Dallas County Board of Elections, "Unofficial Election Results"
  9. 9.0 9.1 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  10. The Dallas Morning News, "Dallas Judge Carlos Cortez says he was trying to stop girlfriend's suicide, not assaulting her; she says that's 'laughable'," December 30, 2013
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 The Dallas Morning News, "More abuse allegations emerge against Dallas County judge," February 14, 2014
  12. 12.0 12.1 The Dallas Morning News, "Dallas County grand jury to hear Carlos Cortez assault case Thursday," February 17, 2014
  13. 13.0 13.1 Fox 4 News, "Dallas judge cleared of assault says videos prove his credibility," February 20, 2014
  14. Dallas Culture, "Judge Carlos Cortez loses battle to keep allegations of drugs and prostitutes private," April 16, 2014
  15. Texas, "Shocking Statements Unsealed in Judge Carlos Cortez Dispute," April 17, 2014
TexasUnited States District Court for the Eastern District of TexasUnited States District Court for the Western District of TexasUnited States District Court for the Northern District of TexasUnited States District Court for the Southern District of TexasUnited States bankruptcy court, Eastern District of TexasUnited States bankruptcy court, Western District of TexasUnited States bankruptcy court, Northern District of TexasUnited States bankruptcy court, Southern District of TexasUnited States Court of Appeals for the Fifth CircuitTexas Supreme CourtTexas Court of AppealsTexas Court of Criminal AppealsTexas District CourtsTexas County CourtsTexas County Courts at LawTexas Statutory Probate CourtsTexas Justice of the Peace CourtsTexas Municipal CourtsTexas countiesTexas judicial newsTexas judicial electionsJudicial selection in TexasTexasTemplate.jpg