May 14, 2005 in Nation/World

Judge apologizes for courtroom party

Associated Press

DALLAS – A judge who threw a courtroom party with balloons and cake to celebrate the recapture of a man who fled during his trial has apologized after a state panel admonished her.

Dallas District Judge Faith Johnson served ice cream and hung streamers for a court proceeding last year in which Billy Wayne Williams discovered he had been sentenced in absentia to life in prison.

The State Commission on Judicial Conduct, which issued the public admonition, also discovered that Johnson had planned for a TV crew to capture Williams’ expression when he entered the courtroom.

“If my celebration of the return of fugitive Billy Wayne Williams offended any member of the community, I deeply apologize,” Johnson wrote in a statement released Thursday.

In 2003, Johnson granted Williams a personal recognizance bond before he disappeared during his aggravated assault trial; he was captured a year later. He was accused of choking his girlfriend to the point of unconsciousness.

Johnson initially defended her actions, saying that getting a killer and abuser of women off the streets was reason to celebrate.

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