I had a moment to sit down with a cup of coffee and read the print edition of the Houston Chronicle this morning when I came across this editorial, supporting Rep. Justin Rodriguez's bill that would change how Texas selects judges.
I usually get my information on criminal law-related Senate and House bills from Grits, so I was surprised I hadn't heard about this one. If Grits wrote about it, I totally missed it.
Those of us who practice criminal law know that partisan politics have no place in the judiciary. In addition to opening the doors to the influence of party hacks who have no understanding of how the criminal justice system works (i.e. Terry Lowry & Jared Woodfill), partisan elections for judges contradict the ideals of Separation of Powers.
What good is a judge if he or she is more loyal to following party lines rather than interpreting the laws of Texas and the United States?
I've said before that I don't believe that we will ever see our judges selected in non-partisan elections. The Republican and Democratic parties are machines that rely on all candidates to help raise money for their respective parties. They will never voluntarily agree to just waive the earning potential of all the judges who are running on any particular election slate.
Rep. Rodriguez's bill becoming law may be doubtful in my pessimistic opinion, but I hope Scott Henson over at Grits will chime in with a more educated analysis than I have.
Either way, the idea of steering judges away from partisan politics has my full support, as well as the support of most prosecutors and defense attorneys I know.