Southeast Texas Record

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Hartman loses appeal in suit stemming from arrest while trying to serve judge during court

By David Yates | Sep 19, 2019

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BEAUMONT – From trying to serve a judge during court to being involved in a bounty hunt gone very wrong, Stephen Hartman has grabbed his share of headlines over the past years.

On Sept. 19, the Ninth Court of Appeals affirmed a trial court’s ruling dismissing Hartman’s malicious prosecution lawsuit brought against the estate of Joe Alford.

In May 2013, Hartman attempted to serve former Judge Layne Walker while he was on the bench. He was charged with interfering with public duties and disrupting a public meeting.

Alford was appointed as district attorney pro tem and prosecuted the case against Hartman in Orange County, charging him with a Class B misdemeanor of Hindering a Proceeding by Disorderly Conduct.

The charges were ultimately dropped, but that didn’t stop Hartman from suing everyone involved.

In his claims against Alford, Hartman asserted Alford had no legal authority to prosecute him and that Alford knew that he was engaging in a malicious and illegal prosecution, court records show.

Hartman further asserted that because Alford was a private attorney and not a government employee, he is not entitled to prosecutorial immunity.

Alford argued that he was and a trial court granted his plea to the jurisdiction, prompting Hartman to appeal.

“The only legal issue is whether Alford acted within the scope of his prosecutorial duties by engaging in activities intimately associated with the judicial process,” the opinion states. “Hartman’s subjective belief or the subjective belief of other witnesses that Alford engaged in an extra-judicial conspiracy does not change the fact that Alford’s activities entitled him to absolute prosecutorial immunity.”

Hartman is represented by Beaumont attorney John Morgan.

The estate of Alford is represented by attorneys Frank Calvert and Blair Clarke.

Appeals case No. 09-19-00051-Cv

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