DALLAS -- Republican 5th Court of Appeals Judge David Lewis resigned from the bench Wednesday after spending almost a year leave on unpaid leave.
Last November, Lewis agreed to a six-month unpaid leave of absence. He agreed not to return to work until he was medically cleared to do so.
Prior to that, he had been away from the job for more than a year and had continued to be paid his $161,000 annual salary. News 8 was the first to report that he had been away from his job and kept collecting a paycheck.
His attorneys have acknowledged that an alcohol problem has kept him off the job since September 2014. Court records state that he went into out an out-of-state treatment facility.
Lewis sat on the 13-member Fifth Court of Appeals, based at Dallas County's George Allen Courts Building. The court hears appeals of civil and criminal cases from Dallas and the surrounding counties. In court papers filed Wednesday, Lewis agreed to resign in lieu of disciplinary action. The state commission on judicial conduct voted to accept his resignation Wednesday. He also agreed to never serve as a judge again.
Lewis’ decision to resign came one day after the state commission on judicial conduct filed papers seeking his removal from office.
In October 2014, 5th Court of Appeals Chief Justice Carolyn Wright filed a sworn affidavit raising concerns about his fitness for the office, according to the court documents filed Tuesday.
She alleged that he was physically and mentally unfit to do the job, that he failed to treat the other justices and court staff in a “courteous manner,” that he improperly delegated judicial decision-making to court staff and that he failed to perform the duties of the office which caused a delay in judicial decisions.
Lewis told Wright that he had diabetes that was out of control and that he was suffering from depression, court records state.
The records also state that Lewis’ “improper use of his court computer” had cost the court more than $20,000 “due to computer viruses directly attributable” to Lewis.
Justice Molly Francis also expressed a fear for Lewis’ safety and the safety of “court personnel,” the records state. She described Lewis as “erratic, hostile and threatening” and said that his mood could shift from “laughing and flippant to hostile, arrogant and seething.”
Lana Myers, another justice, provided a sworn affidavit stating that Lewis could not “express his thoughts in a very coherent manner.”
Earlier this year, Lewis underwent physical and mental evaluations, which concluded that he was suffering from permanent brain damage and was not fit to continue serving as a judge.
Lewis took office in January 2013. His six-year-term ends in 2019. The governor will appoint his replacement.
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