Confronted with wild allegations of jury tampering by a glib, flamboyant local plaintiff's lawyer, Jefferson County Judge Donald Floyd could have been forgiven for simply dismissing the matter.
After all, the case in question had been settled. And it never did, in fact, even seat a jury in the first place.
But Judge Floyd showed patience and asked to hear more, and for that he deserves major credit. With a full docket on his plate, he scheduled another hearing, giving the accuser time to make his jury tampering case; to lay out the evidence of the crimes he actually saw.
So much for the benefits of keeping an open mind.
The acccuser, it turned out, saw absolutely nothing. He hadn't a scrap of evidence to back up his claim, that two Record staffers were trying to influence jurors in one of his cases. The story was made up; it was a hoax, pure fiction.
Still, Judge Floyd gave the accuser the benefit of the doubt. He took his claims seriously. The accuser returned the favor with a show, devoid of substance.
To be sure, it wasn't the first time a private attorney has abused his privileged position within our justice system. And it won't be that last that our courts are willfully manipulated to further someone's personal vendetta. This one eventually did fail, but the whole unfortunate episode came with a cost. It wasted a whole lot of taxpayer resources, not to mention others' time and money.
Not that anyone expects an apology.
After hearing Judge Floyd had officially dismissed his charges last week, the accuser even took a subtle swipe at the judge, suggesting to reporters that he wasn't interested seeking truth.
"He granted the subpoenas, telling us he wanted to question these guys, and then he basically turns around and changes his mind and tells us to go home," he complained to the Beaumont Enterprise.
It takes some nerve.
Someday, we hope, the law degreed will pay a price for such misdeeds.
In the meantime, we'll all remember the time that Beaumont lawyer cried wolf. And we'll pray our judges aren't overly skeptical when jury tampering really, truly does occur here in Jefferson County.