I’m going to give you my personal opinions here. Chief Justice, Supreme Court Wallace Jefferson (R) Jim Jordan (D) Tom Oxford (L) The all-Republican Texas Supreme Court is an intellectually corrupt court. By this I mean that it is infused with the appearance of impropriety and inequity. Who you are matters more than the law and the facts. It has become a wholly owned subsidiary of Texans for Lawsuit Reform. It is also rife with judges who have committed ethical lapses, albeit mostly technical violations of campaign finance and reporting laws. The default choice for the average Court race ought to be the Democrat opposing the Republican, just to bring some balance and fairness back to the Court. The one exception among the three judges up for reelection this year is Wallace Jefferson. He is one of the few judges on the court (Harriet O’Neill is another) whom I regard as being intellectually honest. He looks at the law, not the legal politics of a case. Jefferson is a rare judge on the court who writes dissents from his colleagues’ more outrageous opinions. He even called foul on Priscilla Owen’s attempts to rewrite Texas oil and gas law in favor of companies, against landowners. I was disappointed by his “State of the Judiciary” address in 2007, though, when he shilled for TLR’s attempts to establish special courts to hear (that is, make the world safe for) big companies in toxic torts case. Jim Jordan, Jefferson’s opponent, is a district judge in Dallas. His bio on his web site does not indicate where he got his law degree. (His undergraduate degree is from Austin College, an excellent liberal arts school.) I think one’s law school is a fundamental piece of information that ought to be included. (Judge Jefferson earned his law degree at the University of Texas.) I would vote for Judge Jefferson in any case, but I would not vote to put a person on the state’s highest court without knowing his legal background. Place 7 Dale Wainwright (R) Sam Houston (D) David G. Smith (L) Wainwright contributes about as much to the Court as an amoeba. He is a go-along judge. He did graduate from an outstanding law school (University of Chicago) and he worked for major law firms. But he is just another TLR vote on the Court. Sam Houston has his law degree from Baylor, and he was a litigator for one of the big Houston law firms. He is supported by a number of prominent defense counsel and has been endorsed by the Dallas Morning News and the American-Statesman. He is not one of those folks who runs for office because he has a famous name, but I’d vote for him even if he were. We have to get some balance on this Court. Place 8 Phil Johnson (R) Linda Yanez (D) Drew Shirley (L) Johnson was Chief Justice of the Amarillo Court of Appeals. Yanez is the Senior Justice on the Court of Appeals in South Texas. Yanez has won the endorsement of the Express-News, the Chronicle, the American-Statesman, the Caller-Times, and the Bryan-College Station Eagle. The reason is the widespread perception that the Court is predisposed to rule against consumers and injured parties. Johnson has done little to nothing to bring balance to the Court. Yanez will. She has my vote. Place 3, Court of Criminal Appeals Tom Price (R) Susan Strawn (D) Matthew Eilers (L) You can’t go wrong here. Price has been a voice of reason on a terrible Court. He courageously ran twice against Sharon Keller, arguably the worst judge in Texas, if not the planet, for presiding judge of the Court of Criminal Appeals, losing close races each time. He deserves to be reelected, and I will vote for him. Strawn worked for many years in the U.S. Justice Department and would undoubtedly be an improvement on the Court, if it weren’t for the fact that she is running against Price. As I said, you can’t go wrong here. Chief Justice, Third Court of Appeals Ken Law (R) Woodie Jones (D) Jones was a highly regarded judge on the Court when he was defeated in the Bush sweep in 2000. He has been running commercials against Law that describe his opponent as Ken “broke the” Law and Ken “doesn’t know the” Law. Law wrote the notorious opinion that let Tom DeLay off the legal hook by ruling that checks are not cash. He also refused to allow a dissent in that case to be filed by a Democratic colleague, despite having no legal authority for his refusal. I can hardly wait to vote him out of office. These are just my opinions. No one has to like them or be influenced by them. My approach to judicial races is that the Texas legal system is badly out of balance and has been corrupted by the money and power of Texans for Lawsuit Reform — Like so many reformers, TLR set out to do good, and did do good, but then became enamored of power and its ability to spread money around. It is time to restore balance and integrity to the Texas judicial system.
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