Y’all remember Judge D’Metria Benson, right? She presided over the Episcopal School of Dallas lawsuit that was covered so relentlessly by Claire St. Amant on this blog back in 2011. She’s also been deemed one of Dallas County’s worst judges. That’s why a group of anonymous attorneys have created a website, DMetriaWatch.com, that’s dedicated to getting her voted off the bench.
The people behind the site genuinely believe several things:
We genuinely believe that D’Metria Benson is inexcusably rude to both attorneys AND their clients.
We genuinely believe D’Metria Benson does not prepare for hearings.
We genuinely believe D’Metria Benson does not have an adequate knowledge of the law.
We genuinely believe D’Metria Benson does not have a judicial temperment; in fact she has the opposite temperment. She is unfit to sit on the bench.
The list goes on and on.
If you’d like to run against Benson, the filing period to get on the ballots for the 2014 primaries is Nov. 9 through Dec. 9.
The Dallas Bar Association handed out its Philbin Awards this afternoon, and the blog you are now reading was honored for Claire St. Amant’s coverage of the ESD trial. Alas, Claire is no longer with us, so I’ll have to congratulate her from afar. Jump for the press release.
The folks at Episcopal School of Dallas seem to know when Claire St. Amant has a day off. About an hour ago, the Morning News‘ Diane Jennings reported that the school has reached a settlement with the family of Jane Doe II, the former student who was expelled after having an affair with history teacher Nathan Campbell.
As you may recall, the announcement of headmaster Stephen Swann’s retirement happened while Claire was on vacation.
John Eagle and Joe Colonnetta, previously the chairman and vice-chairman of the Episcopal School of Dallas’ board of directors, will no longer serve in those capacities. Eagle announced the leadership changes in an email to parents earlier today.
According to the email, board members elected Plack Carr as chairman and Ken Schnitzer as vice-chairman during yesterday’s meeting. The changes will take effect in June.
Eagle has served as chairman since 2000, while Colonnetta took the vice-chairman position in the 2011-2012 school year. As has been customary for all the leadership changes enacted after a jury found the school liable for gross negligence and fraud in September, the letter made no mention of the verdict or the sexual assault of a student that preceded the lawsuit.
Father Stephen Swann, who announced his own retirement on Dec. 20, sent an email to ESD parents late Tuesday stating that chief academic officer Rebecca Royall was retiring for health reasons. Royall has worked at ESD since 1977. Her duties will be absorbed by upper school head Erin Mayo, who has been at ESD for five years.
Royall, Mayo, and Swann were the three administrators who claimed responsibility for forcing Jane Doe II to withdraw from the school two months after it was discovered she was in a sexual relationship with teacher J. Nathan Campbell. In September, a jury found the school liable for gross negligence and fraud for how it handled the student’s exit and awarded the family $9.2 million.
For more on this development, pick up the Jan. 6 edition of Preston Hollow People or subscribe today.
Father Stephen Swann’s announcement that he is stepping down comes three months, almost to the day, after a jury handed down a $9.2 million verdict against ESD for its actions in the aftermath of a student’s sexual relationship with a teacher. The letter, which never mentions the lawsuit, or the circumstances that led to it, was obtained by Preston Hollow People. Granted, WFAA had it first, but ours is much prettier. That should count for something.
A few items of note: He waits three paragraphs to make his announcement, and refers to himself as the “Endowed Headmaster.” While a true statement, I can’t remember another time when he employed that particular title.
Channel 8’s Brad Watson is reporting that the Rev. Stephen Swann, the only headmaster the Episcopal School of Dallas has ever known, is stepping down after 37 years. Watson obtained a letter sent to ESD alumni in which Swann says he will stay on until a replacement can be hired. The letter makes no mention of the lawsuit ESD faced for expelling student Jane Doe II after her affair with teacher Nathan Campbell.
In the Episcopal School of Dallas’ latest round of legal battles related to a teacher’s sexual relationship with a student, attorneys for the Doe family argued today that the school committed witness tampering, intimidation, obstruction of justice, and perjury through the actions of its attorneys and employees.
This is the second round of sanctions hearings against lead ESD counsel Chrysta Castañeda as well as her firm, Locke Lord. After landing on the losing end of a $9.2 million jury verdict in September, ESD hired a multitude of attorneys from Haynes & Boone, who have been handling post-trial matters.
Judge D’Metria Benson heard a variety of motions related to the final judgment and sanctions against ESD on Nov. 10. She heard the remainder of sanctions charges, or as many as the plaintiffs could get through in the 20-minute allotment, this afternoon.
As you may recall, a jury handed down a $9.2 million verdict against the Episcopal School of Dallas in September. So why are we still talking about this?
1. Judge D’Metria Benson has not ruled on the final judgment, and based on arguments last month, it appears the award will be somewhere between $3 and 7 million.
2. In January and again in November, the plaintiffs filed some pretty serious sanctions against ESD. Benson heard the first part of those last month, and will hear the more recent accusations next week.
There’s no mention of a ruling in the court docket for Dec. 15, and cordial Court Coordinator Seth Little tells me the only guarantee for next week’s hearing is sanctions arguments. So don’t get your hopes up (like I did) for this case to wrap up before 2012.
As always, the court is open to the public. If you’d like to see the (dare I say final?) latest round of arguments, leave your weapons, recording devices, and digital cameras at home and head to County Court at Law No. 1, located on the fifth floor of the George Allen Courts Building, 600 Commerce Street. The hearing begins at 3 p.m.
Although a jury handed down a $9.2 million verdict against the Episcopal School of Dallas in September, the plaintiffs are now seeking just $6.7 million.
“Rarely do you get a judgment for the entire amount of the verdict,” said attorney Charla Aldous, who represents the Doe family.
The Does sued ESD for damages related to history teacher John Nathan Campbell’s sexual relationship with their daughter and her subsequent separation from the school.
Judge D’Metria Benson heard a variety of motions related to the final judgment and sanctions against ESD this afternoon, but deferred ruling on any of them until a later date. Read More…
August 31, 2013
October 1, 2012
March 16, 2012
January 18, 2012
January 3, 2012
December 29, 2011
December 15, 2011
December 9, 2011
November 10, 2011