BY Francis Akhalbey, 7:30am March 11, 2024,

‘Who do you think you are?’ – Houston attorney who sent ‘threatening and harassing’ letter to judge fired

Judge Erica Hughes said the letter Attorney Ben Aderholt sent her was "threatening and harassing" -- Photo Credit: Facebook/Judge Erica Hughes

A Houston attorney was fired by his law firm after he sent a “threatening and harassing” letter to a Black female judge. Per FOX 26 Houston, Attorney Ben Aderholt is said to have sent the letter in question to Immigration Judge Erica Hughes. He also wrote the letter on the letterhead of his former employer.

“I was shocked and surprised to receive that letter,” Judge Hughes, who is also a military veteran, said. Aderholt started the letter by calling Judge Hughes by her first name before posing the question, “Who do you think you are?” 

“Calling me Erica, as if we are friends or as if he knows me, started off in the wrong direction. The letter progresses and gets progressively worse,” Judge Hughes said.

Judge Hughes also highlighted a part of a letter that struck a nerve. Aderholt wrote, “Political animals who treat our judiciary as political games…” The judge said the “animals part” stands out for her. “That an individual in 2024 would show such disdain for an individual they’ve never met,” she added.

Aderholt’s former employer, Coats-Rose, said the attorney has since been fired as he “practiced poor judgment” by writing the judge that letter. Aderholt in a statement to FOX 26 Houston also said he went against his firm’s policy by writing the letter on the company letterhead. He said using the letterhead “was unintentional and careless but was an error of judgment.” He rendered an apology for that. 

Judge Hughes said she feels candidates receiving letters of such nature were spurred by the multiple lawsuits that were brought against Black female judges during the election season. 

“I expect to be attacked when I serve in the military. I don’t expect to be attacked when I run for a political position in a party, in a democracy in the United States,” said Judge Hughes.

Judge Hughes became a Harris County criminal court judge after she was elected in 2018 and was subsequently confirmed as a federal immigration judge. “So no one could attack my qualifications. This was another way to try to get me removed from the ballot,” Judge Hughes said.

A lawsuit that was filed to have Judge Hughes’ candidacy revoked alleged she had fabricated 102 names on a petition, FOX 26 Houston reported. But she said those claims were false. 

“So in criminal court, that’s 102 allegations and punishable by a felony, two to 10 years in jail. It’s false, of course,” Judge Hughes said. And though that lawsuit was dismissed by the Texas Supreme Court, she said people have since been sending her threatening letters. 

“It’s very disheartening, in 2024, I receive letters like this calling me an animal, calling me by my first name. I reference the year because of the history in this country, of slavery. I don’t expect that in 2024. Democracy is what this country was built on. I served in the military, so I can run as a judicial candidate in a free country, as long as I’m qualified,” Judge Hughes said.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: March 11, 2024

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