Attorney says Bexar County court judge ‘body checked’ and assaulted her at Fiesta gathering

SAPD called to Mariachi Bar after Wednesday afternoon altercation

Bexar County Court 7 Judge Melanie Lira confronts an attorney inside the bar at Mi Tierra restaurant. (Copyright 2024 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio police were called to a downtown bar Wednesday after an attorney accused Bexar County Court 7 Judge Melanie Lira of assaulting her during a Fiesta gathering of legal professionals, police records obtained by KSAT Investigates show.

Attorney Leigh Cutter said Lira on Wednesday afternoon assaulted her and issued verbal threats, “accusing her of disseminating rumors regarding her ex-boyfriend,” an SAPD incident report states.

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Cutter told KSAT in a phone call Thursday that Lira “body checked” her out of nowhere around 4:30 p.m. at the Mariachi Bar inside Mi Tierra and then said she knows which cases Cutter has in her court.

Portions of the altercation were captured on a cellphone camera.

In the footage, as “My Boo” by the Ghost Town DJ’s plays loudly in the background, Lira can be heard telling Cutter, “I just don’t understand where it’s coming from.”

Cutter responded, “I don’t even know who your court reporter is.”

Lira then blocks the cellphone camera with her hand and the recording ends.

“I can handle confrontation in the courtroom, but this is not OK,” Cutter told KSAT Thursday.

Cutter said she was in the process of filing a formal complaint against Lira with the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.

Cutter told police at the scene that Lira “was physically pushing her and verbally menacing her,” describing the incident as a “relentless confrontation.”

After watching the cellphone recordings, an SAPD officer noted that there was no clear evidence of assault discernible from the videos.

The report notes that both Cutter and Lira were intoxicated.

Cutter acknowledged Thursday that she had been drinking at the gathering organized by other San Antonio attorneys but denied that she was intoxicated.

Lira subsequently filed a harassment complaint against Cutter with SAPD late Wednesday night after getting home.

Lira said she approached Cutter at the bar because she wanted to know what Cutter’s problem was, an incident report states.

Lira told police she walked away from Cutter after realizing they would not be able to resolve their differences.

The judge told police she was “alarmed, annoyed and embarrassed” by a post on several social media platforms in which Cutter accused the judge of assaulting her at the event.

Lira, who has not been criminally charged, was not in the office Thursday, her court staff told KSAT.

Her staff said they had no way of reaching her when she is not in the office.

Bexar County Court 7 staff did not respond to a separate email from KSAT asking for Lira’s county email address.

Lira, who was elected in 2022, cited a large backlog of cases as the reason she was running for the bench, her campaign website states.

Read more reporting on the KSAT Investigates page.

About the Authors

Emmy-award winning reporter Dillon Collier joined KSAT Investigates in September 2016. Dillon's investigative stories air weeknights on the Nightbeat and on the Six O'Clock News. Dillon is a two-time Houston Press Club Journalist of the Year and a Texas Associated Press Broadcasters Reporter of the Year.

Erica Hernandez is an Emmy award-winning journalist with 15 years of experience in the broadcast news business. Erica has covered a wide array of stories all over Central and South Texas. She's currently the court reporter and cohost of the podcast Texas Crime Stories.

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