By far he’s not the first judge to get on trouble on social media, but Judge Bill McLeod of Houston certainly pulled a number on himself by resigning from his bench by accident through a Facebook post.
When McLeod, judge of Harris County’s Civil Court-at-Law No. 4, wrote about his aspirations to run someday for the Texas Supreme Court, he apparently did not know the Texas Constitution states that judges who announce they’re running for another office effectively have resigned from their current position.
The very odd story, which unfolded on April Fools' Day, caught the attention of media far and wide and now it’s making ripples in social media that are bubbling up in the real world.
After someone pointed out the faux pas, McLeod yet again took to Facebook for a live streaming video on March 31 begging his supporters to come to his aid.
“I am in dire need of people’s support. Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan is trying to throw me off my bench because of this potential violation of the Texas Constitution by making a potential announcement for running for another office. I have no intention of running for the other office,” said a teary eyed McLeod in the video, which asked people to call the Harris County Commissioners Court in advance of an April 9 meeting to decide the matter.
Later, McLeod wrote in comments that he wishes for the commissioners to allow him to stay in office until he can re-run for his bench in a special election in 2020.
Reacting on Facebook, his supporters began commenting and sharing two images listing phone numbers for commissioners and McLeod’s accomplishments in office, and called April 9 a “day of action.” Supporters used the hashtag “IStandWithMcLeod.”
Since the incident started, many supporters have posted words of encouragement, but not all are for the judge. Some are saying a judge who doesn’t know the Texas Constitution should not be on the bench, for example.
McLeod didn’t immediately return a call or email seeking comment.
Harris County First Assistant Attorney Robert Soard said it's not the office's job to get McLeod off the bench. Rather, as the lawyer for the county, the office must advise the commissioners about what McLeod did and what the Texas Constitution says about it.
"It's our opinion--it's not a secret about that--that Judge McLeod has resigned from office with his actions.
Commissioners could find a replacement, or allow Judge McLeod to stay over in a holdover position for quite a long time, if that is what they have chosen," Soard said. "It's a decision for the court members to make."
Meanwhile, here are some examples of how the discussion is shaping up on Facebook.
- "I can think of 647,502 reasons why Judge Bill McLeod needs to stay in that seat. That was the number of Harris County voters (including me) who wanted him on that bench for his full term of office." - Monica Roberts.
- "If he doesn't even know the Texas state constitution how can he be an effective judge? It begs the question, does he even know the US constitution?" - Walter Vanhorn.
- "He has certainly been a great friend to all of us and we want to return the favor. We heart emoji you Brotha Bill and we got your back, front, side, top and bottom." - Sharon Laverne Fuller.