An arrest warrant was issued Friday for the son of Judge Regina Arditti, who allegedly entered into an illegal plot to get her son a nearly $60,000 a year job at the courthouse.
Dante Vance, 28, was called to the witness stand, but court bailiffs could not locate their former colleague. Vance was employed as a bailiff for convicted former Judge Manny Barraza.
“The subpoena says he was supposed to show up on May 2 and come back for as many days needed, but the problem is that it wasn’t delivered until May 3,” said Theresa Caballero, who along with Stuart Leeds is defending Judge Arditti.
“This happened with District Attorney Jaime Esparza where the subpoena was dated for a Sunday, but that was just brushed under the rug, no arrest warrant. It was just a mistake, which is what this is also.”
Judge Arditti is alleged to have entered into an agreement with Barraza to hire each other’s relatives. Barraza allegedly hired Vance and Judge Arditti hired Barraza’s sister Sally Mena as her court coordinator.
Judge Arditti, who is on trial, has been indicted for bribery and abuse of official capacity. Both Mena and Vance are no longer employed at the courthouse.
Prosecutors continued pressing their case Friday calling to the witness stand a list of District Court employees, including a retired, 37-year Human Resources worker who took the ID photos for both Judge Arditti and Barraza.
Under questioning by the defense, all of the witnesses admitted to having no personal knowledge of Judge Arditti entering into an agreement with Barraza, or of allowing herself to be bribed or of bribing Barraza, or of committing abuse of official capacity.
“I don’t know any such thing,” said Grace Herrera, a 12-year courthouse employee, when asked if she knew anything about the allegations made against Judge Arditti.
Mena, who testified Thursday, was asked to resign by Judge Arditti and Vance was fired by courthouse overseer Mike Izquierdo, who provided testimony on Friday as a prosecution witness.
Defense attorneys allege that District Attorney’s Office prosecutors are simply parading a slew of witnesses they describe as “irrelevant” to make Judge Arditti “look bad.” They say visiting Judge Steve Smith of Brazos County is biased against the defense and is handling the trial unfairly, leaning toward the side of prosecutors.
Vance, who has been described as both scrawny and muscular, was portrayed by fellow employees as being in poor health and missing work often. In addition, defense attorneys allege that the judge who replaced Barraza didn’t speak directly to Vance, but relayed orders through others, mainly the court coordinator.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys continued lobbing accusations at each other, regarding statements made Thursday that judges were afraid of the DA’s office and that the courthouse was a “cesspool.”
The trial is expected to continue on Monday at 8:30 a.m. with more witnesses from the prosecution. The state listed some 128 individual potential witnesses.