Sunday, January 10, 2010

Terry Lowry & The Partisan Debacle

Another election year is upon us, and yet again, I find myself shaking my head at the potential havoc that is about to be wreaked in the criminal justice system. Since our legislators in Texas have still failed to remove the necessity behind having an "R" or a "D" next to judicial candidates running for the criminal courts, we are about to miss out on some good people either staying or attaining criminal benches.

I've said it before and I'll say it again -- partisan politics have absolutely no place in criminal law. A criminal judge's view on abortion is never going to come into play in the job we elect them to do. They are there to make rulings on the law and occasionally decide the facts on a case by case basis.

None of those calls have anything to do with a Republican or Democrat Party platform.

Judge Harmon will never have the opportunity to overturn Roe v. Wade. Judge Fine won't shut down Guantanamo. Judge Fields isn't going to bring our troops home from Iraq. Judge Reagin isn't going to raise our taxes.

Their political beliefs don't affect their jobs anymore than it would if they were the county dog catcher.

I've always thought that it was ironic that the Houston Mayoral Election was (on its face) non-partisan, but criminal judicial elections weren't. It would seem to me that a voting Houstonian would have much more interest in knowing what political party their mayoral candidates were than their judicial ones.

The main problem with partisan politics coming into the criminal justice system is that it also brings in the influence of party stalwarts who otherwise would have nothing to do with the criminal justice system. For instance, you have Houston Socialite Carolyn Farb supporting Rachel Palmer for County Court Judge.

Um, how many of you have ever seen Carolyn Farb hanging out at the CJC?

In a case worse than the Farb/Palmer combination, you have people like Terry Lowry -- a Religious Right Activist who has proven himself to be the pimple on the butt of the Republican Party time and again. You may remember this dim-witted rodent from the 2008 political campaign. He was the one that Pat Lykos paid to support her in his National Enquirer-esque "LinkLetter", which is a publication he puts out in support of candidates who give him money. His petty game is to attempt to slander his candidate's opponent into submission.

My friend, Big Jolly, over at Lone Star Times has written several times about the unfortunate presence of Lowry in the political system, but yet you still find candidates who are so desperate to get their names in front of Republican voters that they go to him.

My position on dealing with candidates who go to Lowry is pretty simple -- if you want to lose my vote really quickly, get him to endorse you. I would strongly encourage anybody who is running for judge to stay away from him just for the sake of your own integrity.

I hope that any thinking voter that reads this would also vote against any Lowry candidate, as well.

In my opinion, each and every judge who takes the bench should have integrity, and going to a political snake oil salesman like Terry Lowry is pretty much screaming out that you lack it.

But, that's the problem with partisan politics being involved in criminal law. It spawns people like that.

Over the two years that I've run this blog, I've had several people suggest to me that I ought to start running advertisements on it and making some money. I'm all in favor of making money, but I've never wanted to turn the blog into a money-maker, because it would limit my ability to freely write my opinions.

I know that about half of you guys agree with me and the other half doesn't, but I guarantee you that you are getting my opinion unadulterated by somebody paying me.

For what that's worth.

I'll be starting up my coverage of the contested primary races shortly.

Stay tuned.


BLACK INK said...

An excellent post.
Judges should, by definition, be non-partisan.
I 100% agree that whoever Terry Lowry "supports" should NOT be voted for.
Terry Lowry is a disgrace to humanity and more specifically to the Harris County Republican Party.
His gluttonous partisan perversion knows no bounds so long as he is the benefactor.
Pat Lykos was his poster child for '08 and we'll have to see what vermin crawls into his den of iniquity this year.

David Jennings said...

Here, here, Black Ink! A disgrace to humanity is an understatement.

Thus far I've heard these three candidates advertise on his "show". Show is in quotes because he buys time on 100.7 and then gets people to pay to be "interviewed".

Glenn Devlin
Christine Riddle Butts
Sheri Y. Dean

I think I heard a fourth but need to verify that.

Anonymous said...

Democratic Party, FWIW.

jigmeister said...

My problem with judicial politics is that you get your hands dirty just running. Taking a party label would help, but doesn't solve that problem.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone see Woodfill's billboard on 59? Woodfill falls in Lowy's category if you ask me.

Aggie Pct Chair said...

Below is a post left on Black Ink's blog:


No place does the nasty and insidious effect of this problem manifest itself more pervasively than at the current Texas Supreme Court. Their decisions WILL be guided almost entirely by whether big business is a litigant in the case. And specficially, insurance companies. Its not hyperbole to say that if an insurance company appeals an unfavorable trial verdict to the Texas Supremes, the trial verdict WILL ALWAYS get reversed. The statistics don't lie. Insurance companies flood the campaign coffers of the Texas Supremes and they get their dividend in spades. Its a dirty dirty Court that really doesn't get enough attention. Ironically, I'm a Republican and, while I certainly didn't vote for the coronation of King Obama, I was hopeful that one positive by-product of a winning democratic presidential candidate sitting atop the ballot would have been a sweep of the cash-for-justice Justices on the Texas Supreme Court.

I couldn't disagree more and show why the R and the D are important. This poster is clearly a D. He is refering to the civil courts but the effect can be the same in the criminal courthouse.

Scott said...

Excellent Post, Murray!

Although I personnaly tend to affiliate with one party more so than the other, I cannot agree more. Republican, Democrat, Liberal or Conservative... The law is the law and is supposed to remain impartial.That is one of (if not the biggest) cornerstones of our system.

Anonymous said...

While I despise Lowry, he has actually endorsed some candidates who happen to be the most qualified. I wouldn't vote against a candidate he endorses, but I would be very cautious and do research the field. I also couldn't agree more that Rs and Ds should be removed from being next to a judicial candidate on the ballot. I remember losing some good Democratic judges when the Republicans swept into office in the mid-90s and the same thing happened in 2008 when the Democrats swpet back.

Anonymous said...

Murray---They are predicting a democratic landslide in Harris County because Bill White is in the race. Looks like a lot of longtime judges will be leaving. Lets hope the new judges will do their job properly. Wish you would have run. You are a great guy and wold be a good judge. Are you interested in an appointment to the bench by the governor? You have some friends in high places.

Anonymous said...

Can Hotze be added to the list of paid republican promoters?

Anonymous said...

Who is "they"? I certainly think Bill White is a factor but Obama and Congress may be a bigger factor. There are plenty of people predicting a Republican landslide at this point as well. The point is that it is way too early to tell what will happen in November. I can see it being a landslide for either party at this point.

Anonymous said...

Bill White is not going to have any significant effect on the Harris County races. He ain't BHO and he will be lucky to get 30% in a statewide election.

The local republicans will run the table on all of the judge races and it will also cost a very good District Clerk, Democrat Loren Jackson, his job. It will not be a good time to be a D in Texas or for that matter in most of the US with a 12% unemployment rate and a failed effort to pass a health insurance plan. Even worse if they pass something.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:25, I am sure that was the same stance you had at his time in 2008. But the problem is that the numbers in Harris County do not support you.

In 1994 when the R's swept Harris county they won by a vote percentages of 10 to 12%.

Then look at the percentages in 2006 of between 1 to 4%.

Harris is a changin'...

Add to that, in all these years of R dominance, there has yet to be a full slate of D candidates, nor has there been equal money in play by the D party. Well this year, the R's are in such disarray, they had to shut down their HQ in June because they had no money, had to beg all their R judges to fund the reopening or else, and now they have 4 candidates running to replace the highly ineffective Woodfill. The R's dont even know what their plan is this year until after the primaries. And let's not talk about the R scandals....

Contrast that will the D's that have never had more $$ in their coffers(over 1mil just for judicial campaign), have a full ticket of candidates from all over the county with roots into all communities, and a highly coordinated campaign being run by a professional full-time staff.

Add Bill White at the top to get out his voters in Houston, the ability to have independent voters split their ticket to vote for White, and add Gordon Quan, who is universally liked in the Asian community by R's and D's(just go look at his precincts votes from his council days); and you have a recipe for success on the D's ballot in 2010.

Now is it a guarantee for the D's, no, they were not predicted by Dr Richard Murray to take over the county completely until 2012, when he predicted they would have it for a generation or more after that. But to say the D's have zero chance is to bury your head in the sand about the realities of Harris County demographics.

You could say that the R state reps are getting a little scared too about Bill White's popularity, just read the link below.

It is all fun to talk about, and I will readily admit I cant guess who will win, and it may be close enough to not have sweeps this time. Thanks for the forum Murray.

Anonymous said...

I, too, dislike Lowry's tactics. However, I will continue to vote based on the candidate's qualifications. Glenn Devlin is the most qualified candidate for the 313th, so he will still get my vote. I don't think it's right to not vote for someone just because have a contact with Lowry. You know how politics is, and sometimes it's the Republican party, not the candidate, who solicits Lowry's involvement. Glenn Devlin is the only candidate who knows how to handle the CPS and juvenile delinquency dockets. Juvenile and CPS are specialized areas of law, and it's important that our juvenile judges have experience in that field. Glenn Devlin will get my vote. I won't hold the Republican Party's tactics against the most qualified candidate.

Xi said...

Anon 3:18,
You obviously don't know how Lowry works. If the local candidate doesn't pay then Lowry doesn't support. End of story. The Harris County Republican Party doesn't give money to one Republican candidate over another in the same primary race. Fred Wilson is also very qualified and is a former prosecutor. Fred chose not to whore himself out to that pasty slimeball Lowry and he gets my respect and vote for that. I guess it's an issue of character which you apparently discount.

Xi said...

Anon 12:03,
Bird down bird dog.

Anonymous said...

So... Aggie Pct Chair thinks judges SHOULD be biased?

BLACK INK said...

Aggie Precinct Chair,
You lose credibility when you blindly pick Party over qualifications.

Use Party as a tie breaker if you will but not the sine qua non for an individual's support.
1. Would you support Pat Lykos over a legitimate candidate for DA who happened to be a Democrat?
2. How can you logically support intentional bias in the judiciary?

Anonymous said...

Black Ink, it's not logic that governs partisan politics. It's self-interest, ignorance, fear, bigotry, religion, or some similar prejudice.

You know this.

I'd like to see anyone who thinks Loren Jackson should. Be replaced just because he's a Democrat.


Anonymous said...

You have no idea what you are talking about. I know Fred Wilson. I worked with him at the DA's office. He is a very nice guy and I wish him nothing but the best. However, his years at the railroad commission have not prepared him to hold a Juvenile District Court bench. Nor did his few years at the DA's office. Being a prosecutor, in and of itself, does not qualify someone to hold the 313th bench. How many delinquency and CPS cases has Fred handled in his career? Compare that to the years of experience Glenn Devlin has in that field.
I have know Glenn for years and I have never heard anyone say anything against his character. If the Republican party wants to pay Lowry or whomever, fine. So be it. But Glenn is the MOST qualified candidate in that race, and nobody else can hold a candle to his qualifications and experience with Juvenile and CPS law.

Anonymous said...

Lowry is a crazy "snake handling" zealot. If you want his endorsement, just give him a bunch of $$. What a "fruit cake".

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:08, the Republican party does not pay Lowry, the individual who wants the endorsement makes the payment. The Republican party does not help any candidates in the primary.

Xi said...

anon 10:08,
Fred Wilson has NEVER worked for the Railroad Commission.
He went to work as defense counsel for the Southern Pacific Railroad(now Union Pacific) after leaving the DA's office; just like the current Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Leslie Brock Yates did after she left the DA's office.
Leslie is a phenomenal judge and Fred will be phenomenal as well.
I bet you supported Pat Lykos too didn't you?

Anonymous said...

Terry Lowry claims to be a Christian and supports Christian values. So why is he supporting and endorsing Chris Daniel for district clerk when Chris Daniel is a Scientologist? Google "Chris Daniel" and "Scientology" for the proof. Way to go Terry "The Christian?" Lowry.

Tbow said...

Wow. Second hit from google:

Megan said...

I find it pretty disgusting that "Anonymous" on Feb 9 and "Tbow" on Feb 15 are trying to discredit a candidate for his religion. First of all, they are obviously uneducated about what this religion really is or they wouldn't make such purely ignorant statements. Second, freedom of religion is (supposed to be) a major part of being an American. Religious discrimination is completely unacceptable. Grow up, boys.