Former judge avoids jail for aggravated assault in shotgun shooting incident

Former judge avoids jail for aggravated assault in shotgun shooting incident
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

They say justice is blind, but you’ll never convince me that she wasn’t peeking just a bit under her blindfold when it came time for former Texas judge Alexandra Smoots to be sentenced for aggravated assault with a weapon. A judge decided to give Smoots a deferred adjudication, meaning if she stays out of trouble while on probation for the next three years the charge will simply disappear from her record altogether.

As it turns out, this is actually the second time that Smoots has escaped serious consequences for serious violations of the law. Two years ago she pled guilty to federal charges of wire fraud and was sentenced to time served; a total of 36 days that was only imposed on her when she violated the terms of her original bond. In the latest case, however, Smoots won’t even spend a day in jail for a pretty serious offense.

Houston police arrested Smoots following the incident in the 14000 block of Jewel Meadow Drive involving a woman whom her then-husband had an affair with. She arrived at the home — knowing that her spouse was inside with the woman — and honked her horn repeatedly.

The girlfriend came outside wielding a longboard, court records show. The judge then pointed a shotgun out her car window and opened fire, striking the home. The judge fled, according to police.

The couple has since divorced and Smoots now goes by her maiden name, her attorney said.

“This case happened in a very dark time in her life,” attorney Juanita Jackson said, calling the situation the “perfect case of how love can go wrong and how decisions can change the course of your life.”

This is a family-friendly website, so I can’t use the words I would like to in response to Jackson’s argument. Suffice it to say that no, adults aren’t allowed to blast away with a shotgun because their husband is cheating on them. That’s not love gone wrong, it’s a freaking felony.

Jackson was telling the truth about it being a dark time in Smoots’ life, but that’s partly because of her own decisions to embezzle money from her campaign coffers.

Federal investigators caught wind that Smoots was siphoning campaign money from 2013 to 2018 to purchase a Zales engagement ring, two Prada handbags, and for mortgage payments and private school tuition for her two sons.

The jurist in that case, Lynn N. Hughes, sentenced her to the 36 days she had spent jailed for a bond violation connected to the assault charge, as well as three years of supervised release.

Prosecutors in that case requested a sentence within the guideline range of 18 to 24 months in prison, saying the defendant abused her power and authority as a sitting judge. It was not known what state prosecutors planned to recommend to the judge as a punishment.

I’m sure facing federal charges was a stressor at the time, even though it seems to have worked out quite well for her in the end. Smoots was also diagnosed with breast cancer around that same time, and I know how stressful that can be. It doesn’t matter. Or rather, those aren’t excuses for criminal behavior. Most of us, at some in our lives, are going to go through some serious… uh, stuff. Keep you awake at night, don’t feel like eating (or maybe stress eating instead), gut-churning, headache-inducing, anxiety-infused stress. If you haven’t experienced that yet in your life, congratulations and I hope that continues to be the case… but I wouldn’t count on it.

But no matter what those stressors in our life happen to be, they’re not responsible for how we respond and react to them. We are, and I’m honestly disgusted by the fact that Smoots is getting off so lightly here. I understand that she’s no longer able to practice law because of her felony conviction for wire fraud, that her livelihood and lifestyle have been diminished as a result of her campaign fraud. Ultimately that’s a separate issue from her blasting away with a shotgun towards her husband’s lover, and I would argue that it’s ultimately a more serious offense as well.