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Harris County Judge Ed Emmett defends his chief counsel after arrest

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett is reacting to news that his chief legal counsel was arrested, accused of hitting a woman with his car while trying to leave a tow yard without paying.

Judge Emmett is defending his chief legal counsel, Bill Henderson. The woman who was allegedly hit told Eyewitness News she's at home and she's in pain. Now, others are beginning to question why Henderson is still on the job.

Early Wednesday morning, Henderson was arrested at a tow lot. He is accused of trying to drive his car away without paying and hitting a female employee in the process. Twenty-four hours later, his boss is defending him.

"This is not an ethical issue. This is a question of a traffic-related misdemeanor, Miya, a misdemeanor," Emmett said.

Emmett says Henderson is still on the job and sees no reason to take any other action, but others say the fact that he's a lawyer and a former judge means something.

"We're suppose to hold ourselves to a higher standard of law than the average person and obviously, he's sunk way below that standard," said Randy Burton, founder of the Justice for Children Advocacy organization.

Burton had dealings with Henderson when he was a family court judge in the 1990s. He points to Henderson's past.

In 1992, Henderson filed for personal bankruptcy. In '98, while a judge, he pleaded guilty to a contempt of court charge related to that bankruptcy and received a year probation. Then last year, Emmett hired Henderson to be his office's legal counsel.

"It speaks not very well for Judge Emmett's judgment if he keeps Judge Henderson in that position," Burton said.

But Emmett says this particular traffic case has nothing to do with Henderson's day job.

Meanwhile, the woman who was hit by a car says she's hired an attorney.

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