GALVESTON — In a child custody hearing Friday, Judge Christopher Dupuy’s ex-wife sought a protection order against him, claiming he planned to kill her and flee the country.
The hearing followed Dupuy’s suspension without pay Thursday and his arrest Wednesday on eight indictments, including two felonies and six misdemeanors that accuse him of obstruction, retaliation, abuse of official capacity and official oppression.
The state attorney general’s office, through attorney Greg Hughes, also named Dupuy, 41, in a lawsuit seeking to remove him permanently from the bench.
Since his November 2010 election in a Republican landslide, Dupuy’s 2-year reign has been wrought with controversy, including allegations that he retaliated against attorneys who sought to recuse him from cases and that he used county equipment to help a woman involved in a child custody case. That woman refused to testify Friday when called as a witness.
Dupuy won custody of his two children after divorcing Adrienne Viterna, but on Monday, Dupuy accused Viterna of refusing to return the children after a weekend visitation. Dupuy sought a court order to have the children returned, claiming in a court document that Viterna illegally restrained them.
On Wednesday, attorney Lori Laird filed an application for a protective order on behalf of Viterna. The order accuses Dupuy of abusing his children.
“The acts of abuse committed by (Dupuy) that constitute family violence were planning the murder of the children’s mother and planning to leave the country,” Laird’s motion states.
No witness, however, used the word “murder” or talked of a premeditated killing from the witness stand Friday.
Laird is one of the attorneys Dupuy is accused of unlawfully mistreating while acting under color of his office as a public servant, according to an indictment against Dupuy alleging he committed official oppression.
Laird filed motions seeking to have Dupuy recused from a case. Dupuy held Laird in contempt of court and sought to have an administrative judge sentence her to 110 days in jail.
Laird called several witnesses, including Viterna’s husband, who claimed Dupuy shoulder-bumped and taunted him in a fast-food restaurant parking lot during an exchange of the children.
Viterna testified Dupuy refuses to allow their children to speak to her at functions and during his court-allotted time and won’t let her communicate with them.
One of Dupuy’s former court coordinators testified Dupuy kept his children in his court chambers when one was sick and during the summer school break, instead of letting Viterna keep them during the week when he was at work.
Laird voiced concerns to another witness on whether Dupuy could provide health care coverage or have money to provide for their well-being as he remains on unpaid suspension.
Judge Ben Hardin of Brazoria County, who is presiding in the custody matter, ordered the parties to return to court Wednesday for continuation of testimony.
A hearing is set for June 7 on the removal lawsuit. George Parnham, Dupuy’s attorney on his criminal indictments, said the judge would appeal his suspension by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.
Dupuy has no intention of resigning, Parnham said.
Meanwhile, Judge David Garner, who retired from Galveston’s 10th District Court last year, will preside next week as a visiting judge in Dupuy’s absence. Judge Lisa Burkhart is scheduled to take over the following week, said Judge Lonnie Cox, of Galveston’s 56th District Court.
Contact reporter Chris Paschenko at 409-683-5241 or firstname.lastname@example.org.