Board reprimands former Shelby County JP curious about satanic sacrifice
AUSTIN, Texas (KTRE) - A former judge in Shelby County has been publicly reprimanded after privately questioning a suspect without their attorney.
Joshua Ritter, formerly a judge in Pct. 4 in Shelby County, was found to have improperly questioned a suspect in a murder case on Nov. 28, 2022. Ethan Myers, of Joaquin, was arrested in suspicion of a Nov. 13 murder, and was believed to have done so as a Satanic sacrifice. Ritter’s reprimand from the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct said the former judge appeared to have taken an interest in Myers’ religious beliefs.
On Nov. 28, video from the Shelby County Jail processing room showed Ritter speaking with Myers with two jailers present. No audio was available, but the video reportedly showed the two speaking for over five minutes. According to the reprimand document, Ritter did not read Myers his Miranda Rights, and Myers did not waive his right to have an attorney present or his right to remain silent.
During the conversation, Myers told Ritter that he had an attorney, the reprimand said, and in a later hearing Ritter testified under oath that he continued to speak with Myers after learning this. However, in a sworn response to the State Commission on Judicial Conduct’s letter of inquiry, Ritter said he ended the conversation immediately. The reprimand said that Ritter did not believe he had any power or influence over Myers.
On Nov. 29, Shelby County DA Karren Price was notified of a phone call between Myers and his mother, in which Myers said Ritter had questioned him about his religious affiliation. Ritter confirmed the allegations to Price upon questioning, and Price told him he had until 4:30 p.m. to submit his resignation or she would submit a petition to remove him from office. Ritter called Price at 4:27 p.m. to say he did not know what he had done wrong. On Nov. 30, Price filed the petition.
On Dec. 1, Ritter was temporarily suspended from office. On Dec. 16, a show cause hearing was held in Judge LeAnn Rafferty’s court for Ritter. At the conclusion of the hearing, Rafferty suspended Ritter and appointed a temporary justice of the peace in his place. Ritter resigned from the office in March.
The reprimand quoted the U.S. Constitution amendment five; “...nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” The reprimand was issued by the commission on Aug. 2.
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