U.S. Bankruptcy Judge David Jones in Houston, who oversees more major Chapter 11 cases than any other U.S. judge, said on Friday he is facing an ethics review over a previously undisclosed romantic relationship and is stepping down from handling large cases.
Jones said over the weekend he has been in a years-long romantic relationship and shared a home with bankruptcy attorney Elizabeth Freeman, who had been a law clerk for him. Until recently, Freeman worked at Jackson Walker, a local law firm that filed many cases in Jones’ Houston courthouse.
Jones said at a court hearing in the bankruptcy case of drilling company Arethusa Offshore that he is under investigation from the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and that all his bankruptcy cases involving large companies would be assigned to other judges during the investigation.
Chief 5th U.S. Circuit Judge Priscilla Richman, in a misconduct complaint, made public later, said there was probable cause to believe Jones violated the codes of conduct that govern judges by, among other things, failing to avoid an appearance of impropriety.
The Houston bankruptcy court also updated its case assignment rules to remove Jones from a two-judge panel that oversees all complex cases involving more than $200 million in debt.