Two Waxahachie judges are out because of a "lack of confidence"
The Waxahachie City Council on Monday voted to terminate the employment contract of Municipal Judge J. Damon Fehler and to accept the resignation of Associate Municipal Judge Cody Beauchamp, effectively immediately.
The council also appointed Calla Beach Ross as the interim municipal judge.
Fehler and Beauchamp had been in their roles since June 8, 2021.
“The council felt a change was needed because of a lack of confidence,” said Mayor Doug Barnes after the meeting. “The majority of the council wanted to go in a different direction and felt the time was now to move forward.”
Barnes did not elaborate as to why the change was made. But on April 22 Councilman Travis Smith posted on social media his concerns with the bench, specifically noting Fehler and Beauchamp.
Among those was the decision by the bench to set the bond at $150,000 for Nikki Brown, the man suspected of shooting his neighbor, Shane Post, on April 19 in the parking lot of a townhome in the 100 block of Kaufman St. Brown posted 10 percent ($15,000) the next day and returned home with no bond conditions.
Smith also referenced a bond reduction following the Jan. 7 arrest of Jose Sierra Hernandez, who was charged with injury to a child after the death of his 7-month-old daughter Valeria Elizabeth Sierra Mata in December. His bond was reduced from $1 million to $500,000, but he remained in jail on an ICE detainer.
His wife, Alma Mata, was arrested and charged with abandoning/endangering a child for not taking the toddler to seek medical attention. Her bond was reduced from $250,000 to $50,000, and she bonded out.
Smith also noted in his social media post a complaint made against Beauchamp by Justice of the Peace Chris Macon over what he called "unprofessional" and "derogatory" behavior toward Macon's prosecutor and clerk when Beauchamp had a pre-trial setting over two citations he received in March.
“The decision to terminate the contract of one municipal judge and accept the resignation of the second came after much discussion, deliberation and review of the duties of the bench and to our city,” Smith said after Monday’s meeting. “We will be reassessing the types of cases our municipal judge and/or judges hear or arraign moving forward under guidance of our legal counsel and city staff recommendations.”
Fehler and Beauchamp did not comment when contacted Monday.
Ross is a member of the State Bar of Texas and is an attorney and managing partner at Ross & Layne, Attorneys at Law in Waxahachie.
Barnes said it’s unclear when she will be sworn in but that she will begin her interim role immediately.