“Investigation of County Judge Joel Baker”
March 14, 2016
This investigation made an impact on local government in Smith County as it centered around County Judge Joel Baker, who was also serving as vice chair on the State Commission on Judicial Conduct. The judge was found to have sent sexually explicit Facebook messages to a woman he never met while on county and state time.
Our investigative team found that sexually explicit photos and messages lined up with time he was on trips for the county and the State Commission on Judicial Conduct. We verified numerous aspects of his travels with calendars, receipts and agendas we obtained from the Texas Public Information Act.
Our story resulted with many people questioning the judge’s leadership abilities and calling for him to resign as chief executive of the county.
We conducted numerous follow up stories including one that detailed a prior incident with police. In that incident, police were called to a home where a woman saw a camera from the home next door pointed at her bedroom window as she was undressing. That next door home belonged to Judge Joel Baker.
Baker resigned his position from the judicial conduct commission and the commission later suspended him from his position of county judge. He later resigned his position of county judge in Smith County.
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Submitted by Cody Lillich.