Oklahoma Judge Charged Over Shooting, Now Accused of Corruption, Sexual Acts with Staff Inside Courthouse

Judge Brian Lovell
Judge Brian Lovell Twitter

An Oklahoma judge accused of two drive-by shootings in two states is now facing removal for alleged corruption on the bench in addition to sexual misconduct allegations.

As reported by Law & Crime, in September 2023, Garfield County Associate District Judge Brian Lovell, 58, was indicted in Travis County, Texas, for allegedly using his 40-caliber Glock to shoot six parked cars at an intersection near a famous eatery.

After that, according to Lone Star State law enforcement, the judge drove away and used his SUV to try and force a woman's car into oncoming traffic — leaving the road rage scene in a huff by firing three final shots into the air.

In May of this year, Lovell was indicted again in Oklahoma for showing up at his brother-in-law's house firing several rounds into the home with his pistol. The incident took place in February 2023.

A removal petition filed by an Oklahoma Supreme Court justice last week stated that none of "the alleged criminal activities" have anything to do with the effort to remove Lovell from the bench — to avoid jeopardizing either investigation.

Removal Petition Alleges Improper Use of Power, Sexual Encounters with Court Staff Inside Courthouse

The removal petition focuses on a series of allegedly improper uses of judicial power in several cases.The petition summarizes the complaints against the judge as including "engaging in ex parte communications with attorneys appearing before him, making disparaging remarks about attorneys appearing before him, publicly evidencing bias for a particular attorney, and setting the amount of bond on criminal charges based on bias for the defendant's attorney or the defendant."

In addition, there were sexual misconduct allegations against Lovell noted in the removal petition. According to the state supreme court justice, Lovell exchanged "sexually graphic messages and images with court staff inside the courthouse during courthouse hours" and had "sexual intercourse with court staff inside the courthouse during courthouse hours."

Lovell Allegedly Favored Some Attorneys Over Others

Lovell was highly favorable to the legal work done by one attorney in particular, the petition alleges. The judge, according to court minutes, often praised the attorney's decisions no matter what he did — whether choosing not to cross-examine a witness in a case (and describing the decision as "brilliant") or choosing to do so (and praising the cross-examination as "very extensive.") When the attorney questioned one witness, Lovell described the lawyering as "excellent." When other attorneys performed similar work, however, no adjectives were ever used, the justice noted.

And, seemingly, this level of admiration often worked in the attorney's favor in terms of bond decisions. Oftentimes, the petition alleges, such sweetheart bonds were secured via secret text message conversations between the lawyer and the judge. In one instance, Lovell allegedly disparaged a client but granted him a favorable bond anyway — explaining that it was because of who he had picked to represent him in court.

In one particularly notable instance of such alleged favoritism, the petition alleges Lovell granted a protective order to the attorney's client in a domestic case at a funeral home.

As it turned out, the allegedly favored attorney did not represent either party in the underlying case. Instead, the petition alleges, the judge improperly and without any authority to do so, granted a protected order requested by the third-party business who the attorney represented — the funeral home.

Lovell Accused of Having Sex with Two Different Bailiffs

As for the sex, over the years, Lovell allegedly had sex with two different bailiffs. The first incident was confirmed and came to light in 2011 — when the woman was forced to resign. At the time, however, five fellow judges voted to keep Lovell in his robes, and he was made aware that a sexual relationship with a bailiff was considered improper, the justice noted.

According to the petition, Lovell had sex with a bailiff again during the summer of 2023 — inside the courthouse during business hours.

During August 2023, the two allegedly exchanged several graphic sexual text messages and images on multiple occasions — always during work hours. The sexual relationship continued into September 2023, according to the removal petition, again with the rendezvous occurring inside the courthouse.

Later, when confronted over those allegations, Lovell chalked the extent of their relationship up to "flirtatious texting." The bailiff, however, told investigators that she had, in fact, had sex with the judge.

Lovell Temporarily Suspended from Performing Judicial Duties

Overall, the state's high court justice concludes, Lovell's judicial actions — again entirely divorced from the criminal allegations against him — demonstrate a pattern of conduct that has resulted in "gross neglect of duty, gross partiality, corruption in office, commission of offenses involving moral turpitude while in office, and oppression in office."

In an accompanying order, the judge was temporarily suspended from performing his judicial duties. He has until July 8 to contest the interim suspension order. A motions hearing on the merits of the removal effort is currently slated for July 30.

This article was first published on July 3, 2024