Judson V. Sutherland, an Austin attorney and founding partner of J. Black's Feel Good Kitchen & Lounge (including its Houston restaurant), was arrested during an FBI-led sex trafficking sting.
A spokesperson with the Travis County Sheriff's Department confirmed that Sutherland, 37, was arrested on June 19 for prostitution, a class B misdemeanor. Sutherland was originally released on a judge's order on June 20, but he was forced to turn himself in again on June 23. He is currently out on a $2,000 bond.
Under the Texas penal code, a charge of prostitution can include both the party soliciting sexual contact and the person offering to pay. Sutherland's arrest came as part of nationwide crackdown on the sexual trafficking of minors. In Austin, six adults were arrested in addition to Sutherland, and three children were rescued during the operation.
In addition to being named a finalist in this year's Austin Under 40 Awards, Sutherland is a founding partner of the Austin law firm Hajjar Sutherland & Peters LLP. The Highland Park High School graduate attended the University of Texas School of Law and specializes in real estate and corporate and securities, according to his law firm's website.
In Austin, six adults were arrested in addition to Sutherland, and three children were rescued during the operation.
J Black's, a casual restaurant and lounge, was launched on West Sixth Street in Austin and expanded to the Washington Avenue corridor in Houston and Henderson Avenue in Dallas.
Kareem Hajjar, founding partner of the law firm Hajjar Sutherland & Peters LLP, released a statement regarding Sutherland's arrest.
In part, the statement reads, "All of us at Hajjar Sutherland & Peters LLP are disturbed by the recent news involving Judson Sutherland. These are issues that we take very seriously, and are conducting our own investigation to ascertain the truth to the charges currently before Mr. Sutherland. In no way, shape or form is this being overlooked or discounted by this firm. We expect our attorneys and staff to comport themselves with class, dignity and in such a way as to reflect the values and ethics of this firm.
"It is up to the partners of Hajjar Sutherland & Peters LLP to set that example. To the extent that such an example was not set, we will deal with that internally."