Day 2: Justice of the Peace Claudia Brown Trial


An expert witness testified Tuesday afternoon in the trial of Bell County Justice of the Peace Claudia Brown regarding her mental ability.

During day two of the trial, six witnesses took the stand including Judge Brown for over two hours, testifying about past bonds she had set any why she set them.

The courtroom got emotional that morning after Judge Brown’s assistant Dinah Cotto burst into tears when asked by the prosecution questions regarding Brown’s ability to do her job, referring to it as “having bad days.” That testimony was later confirmed by a Dr. John Fabian, a forensic, clinical and neuro pshycologist who diagnosed the 79-year-old with a mild stage of cognitive decline.

Before the other witnesses took the stand, prosecutors asked Judge Brown to explain why she set several bonds for different offenses.

The prosecution pointed out that she suggested a $2,000 bond for a felony back in February 2017 — a burglary of habittation with intent to commit another felony by a Jerome Riley, and in May 2017, she suggested a $15,000 bond for a misdemeanor — possesion of marijuana in a drug free zone for a Taylor Chapel.

They also pointed out that Judge Brown set her own son’s DWI bond at $2,000, but set two other DWI cases at $20,000 that same year.

Brown says $2,000 for a DWI case is customary.

“So I treated him like I treat everyone else, it’s always been two thousand dollars,” said Judge Brown during an interview with FOX 44 in August, 2018.

Judge Brown admitted in court that setting her own son’s bond back in June 2017 was a mistake.

“I have one person who is close to me who could take my position to do that because I should not have done it. The consanguinity law says I cannot do that, okay? But he had asked me to cover for him that morning,” said Judge Brown during that interview with FOX 44.

When asked about the $4 billion bond, Judge Brown says she was publicky reprimanded, was ordered to get additional eduation, and took full responsibility for her actions.

She told FOX 44 in an interview that she believed that would be the end of it.

“I did not know it was actually going to go forward, I thought they would look at that and say ‘Oh, Judge Brown made a mistake.’ But it didn’t, it went viral throughout the entire United States of America as the highest bail ever set,” said Judge Brown.

Witnesses on Tuesday,  told the jury there are times when Judge Brown gets confused in the court room, and there has been a significant decline in the number of cases that have come through her courtroom both criminal and civil.

Judge William Cook, who currently is the Justice of the Peace for Precinct 4, Seat 2 and works directly alongside Judge Brown said since Judge Brown took her position in January 2017 his case load increased from 70-75% and is now 80-85% higher.

He also got a call regarding Judge Brown’s death certificates that had not been completed since January 21st 2017. 

He said he looked at 56 certificated, and 77% of them were not completed or had questions about them.

Judge Brown says she wants to continue being a judge because it has been the most rewarding job in her career.

Trial will continue Wednesday morning with more witnesses and evidence.

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