BEAUMONT – A federal judge has vindicated a former Jefferson County district judge, sanctioning a local attorney for “vexatiously multiplying” legal proceedings against him.
More than five years ago, Stella Morrison, a Port Arthur attorney and past judicial candidate, filed suit against Layne Walker, who once presided over the 252nd District Court.
Morrison alleged Walker “engaged in an ongoing pattern of harassment” because she and her husband ran against him, accusing the former judge of prosecuting her for perjury when he knew she was innocent.
Morrison’s suit was filed through attorney John S. Morgan, who is no stranger to lawsuits against Walker – the judge who presided over his child custody battle.
Court records show Morgan said that he was angry with Walker for how he oversaw the custody matter but harbored no more animosity because he learned the importance of forgiveness.
On Aug. 22, a federal judge found Morrison’s false perjury claim “frivolous and without factual foundation,” but declined to impose any of Walker’s court costs on her.
However, Morgan was not as fortunate.
“[B]ecause Morgan unreasonably and vexatiously multiplied the proceedings with an improper motive, and in reckless violation of a duty he owed to the court, some of Walker’s costs will be imposed on Morgan,” the order states, signed by U.S. Magistrate Judge Keith Giblin.
Morgan was sanctioned and ordered to pay nearly $30,000 of Walker’s court costs.
The judge found Morgan “jumped to improper and false conclusions to try to make the case against Walker stronger” and allowed his client to plead false contentions “either by her own ignorance or malice.”
Earlier this year, Walker and his attorney, Mark Sparks of The Ferguson Law Firm, afforded Morgan and Morrison the opportunity to resolve the litigation without either of them having to pay any money if they agreed to apologize, according to a letter dated April 25.
In order for Walker to withdraw his motion for sanctions, the letter asked Morrison and Morgan to sign letters stating: “Judge Walker, I realize what I did to you was wrong and the allegations I made in this case were false. Without qualification, I apologize to you and your family for the harm I have caused you, your family, and those who care about you.”
Filed in the Eastern District of Texas, Beaumont Division, case No. 1:13-cv-00327