State Distict Judge David Peeples, of San Antonio, has been assigned to hear the petition to remove Smith County Judge Joel Baker.

Administrative Judge Mary Murphy selected Peeples on Thursday after Judge Kerry Russell recused himself from the case earlier in the week.

The case was filed Monday by attorneys for Grassroots America-We the People. The watchdog group is seeking to have Baker removed on the grounds of incompetence and official misconduct. The causes of action are the explicit emails Baker has acknowledged exchanging with a woman who is not his wife, and a controversial deal he signed to place unmanned speed cameras in county school zones.

The camera deal is now the subject of investigations by the Texas Attorney General's Office and the FBI.

Baker is also under investigation by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct for those emails and text messages, some of which were allegedly sent while he was conducting official business.

The next step in the process is getting an order signed by Peeples to allow Baker to be served notice of the petition, which is in the form of a lawsuit brought under Chapter 87 of the Local Government Code.


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