[NOTE: I received an e-mail from Darrell Jordan this morning (2/12/10) pointing out some things he disputed in the post I did on him regarding his dealings with Sylvia Escobedo. I have made those changes and noted where they are within the post. If these edits and additions change your mind about Mr. Jordan, then I apologize for their initial omissions.]
Some of the recommendations in the Judicial Races are very difficult to make.
This isn't one of those difficult ones.
The race on the Democratic side of the 180th District Court race is between former-prosecutor and now defense attorney Lori Gooch and defense attorney Darrell Jordan.
In case any of you are dying in suspense, the clear choice for this race is Lori.
Lori graduated from law school in 2001 and came to work at the Harris County D.A.'s Office that year, which is where I first met her. There are some people that walked in the door of that Office that were just instantly adored by everyone that they worked with, and Lori was one of those people. She quickly earned a reputation as a tough, no-nonsense prosecutor with excellent trial ability and excellent judgment. She had an uncanny ability to read the people she dealt with on a daily basis and use that in trial.
I'm not exaggerating when I say that Lori ranks near the top as one of the Office Favorites during the time I was there. She certainly was one of my favorite people.
I was sad to see her leave the Office around 2004, but stunned at the same time to see how quickly she made the transition to a very skilled defense attorney. She jumped headfirst into the defense side of the law, and soon had a reputation as a tough lawyer who could handle the toughest murder case on down. Lori has also demonstrated an amazing level of "client control", as I've watched her stand up to even the most hardened criminal who tried to be disrespectful to her. She genuinely cares about her clients and tries to get the best result for them, but she definitely doesn't put up with their B.S., either.
She would make a great judge.
Before I proceed on Darrell Jordan, I am going to acknowledge that a lot of my criticisms of him are based on a personal level, although I do think the story is relevant. You can discount it if you want. I'll understand.
Darrell Jordan does have an impressive background in his schooling and his military JAG service. However, he hasn't even been a licensed attorney for 5 years, and prior to the middle of last year, I'd never even heard of the guy. My understanding is that you have to have been a lawyer for 5 years before you can even become a judge. He will cross the five year thresh hold in June, but do we really want someone with the bare minimum credentials sitting on the bench?
My bigger issue with Darrell is the way he treated my ex-wife last summer when she was hired to take family pictures for him.
As many of you know, my ex-wife, Sylvia Escobedo also dabbles as a photographer, which is something she is very talented at. Last year, Darrell asked her to photograph him and his family, which she gladly did.
When the pictures were ready, she turned them over to Darrell, which left the only thing remaining on his order a large canvass photograph that was still being processed. Prior to turning over the canvass to Darrell, Sylvia asked him to pay for the pictures.
And that's when it got ugly.
[ADDITION: Darrell came and picked up all the initial prints from Sylvia and she told him that the bill for those pictures was going to be $1500. At that time, Darrell only had $500 on him, which he gave to Sylvia and said he would pay her the rest the following week. Sylvia agreed and gave him the pictures at that time. On August 25, 2009, he sent her an e-mail saying (among other things) "I am not a confrontational person so I tried to tell you in a nice way that I am not going to pay $1500 for pictures. I have never agreed to do so."] Darrell announced he wasn't going to pay Sylvia's bill because he thought it was too expensive.
After Sylvia had explained to him that the prices were listed on her website, he angrily accused her of changing the prices since the photo shoot. (NOTE: She didn't). [ADDITION: In the August 25th e-mail, Darrell also wrote: "I had no idea you would go from affordable photographer to photographer for the rich and famous. I think it was very clear when I came to pick up the pictures I had no idea how much they were and I told you so." Yet, he was told on that date what the price was, and he said he would pay the rest later and took the pictures.]
In the meantime, Sylvia had an out-of-pocket expense for the canvass that she had to pay.
And although I was encouraging her to sue Darrell, she ultimately made the agreement that if he would just pay her for the price of the canvass, she would call it even -- just so that she could cover the price of its out-of-pocket expense. [ADDITION: Darrell agreed to pay the $549 price for the cost of the canvass, but required Sylvia to deliver it to his wife's office.]
Darrell got all those photos for the [EDIT: $500 and the] cost of a canvass, and Sylvia operated at a loss. [ADDITION: Sylvia had already discounted her website prices about 50% since Darrell had placed such a very large order and she still lost $500 due to Darrell's refusal to pay the remainder of the tab.]
And the follow up was that Darrell had the audacity to later ask Sylvia for permission to use the photographs for his campaign. She told him if he would like to pay her the remainder of his bill that would be fine. She hasn't heard back from him since.
[ADDITION: When I initially wrote this post, I was not aware that Darrell had paid Sylvia $500 on the day he took possession of the pictures. However, in my opinion, he still placed an order for something, received that which he ordered, dictated that he was not going to pay more than what he wished, and basically got what he wanted. That wouldn't work at a store or in a restaurant, but apparently works in the world of photography.]
So, due to the way he treated the mother of my child, I've got some issues with Darrell Jordan's character. Maybe I'm just biased, but you can make that decision yourself.
But, as for Lori Gooch, I've got absolutely no reservation.
Lori has the experience, the ethics, the toughness, the guts, and the integrity to be a great judge.