Monday, February 12, 2018
The 2018 Contested Republican Primaries
In total, there are two contested Criminal District Court benches (both where there is no incumbent) and two Criminal County Court at Law benches that are contested.
Before I get to those, I would like to bring to your attention that former prosecutor and longtime defense attorney Terry Yates is running for Justice of the 1st Court of Appeals - Place 7 against Katy Boatman. I don't know Katy Boatman, but I've known Terry pretty much since I walked in the door of a Harris County Courthouse. I'm a big fan of his, as I am his brother, Denny, and his wife, Judge Leslie Brock Yates. Terry has viewed the Criminal Justice System from both the prosecution and defense sides. He would make a great Justice.
Now onto the District Court benches. I will start off by saying that I've dreaded writing about both of these races ever since the fields were finalized. The reason being that in both races, I have friends running against friends. I'm glad that the primary is only a few weeks away, because I look forward to this contest being over.
In the 185th District Court race, former Judge of the 176th District Court, Stacey Bond, is running against former Harris County Assistant District Attorney Maritza Antu. Maritza left the Office at the end of 2016 as a Felony Chief prosecutor. She was a talented prosecutor and she has carried on in the world of prosecution as an attorney pro tem on behalf of the State of Texas. She was/is a tough prosecutor, but I always found her to be fair. She, and her husband, Matt Peneguy, are family friends and our kids go to school together.
Stacey Bond was a phenomenal judge during her entirely-too-short tenure as Judge of the 176th. She was a victim of the Democratic sweep of 2016 despite being highly regarded by both the State and the Defense. Prior to becoming a judge, she was a former Harris County Assistant District Attorney and a longtime Defense Attorney. I practiced in her Court regularly, and it was truly one of the best courts to work in (even with that mildly cantankerous court coordinator). Stacey had compassion, knowledge, and the guts to make tough decisions. I have nothing negative to say about Maritza, but Stacey was one of the best judges I have ever practiced in front of.
In the 263rd District Court race, former Harris County prosecutor Justin Keiter is running against longtime Defense Attorney Charles Johnson. I've known Charles since I was a prosecutor and have always enjoyed working with him. In my experience, he is professional, diligent and caring about his clients. He is laid back and would exercise great judicial temperament.
Justin (who is normally referred to just as Keiter) is a former prosecutor who is also currently practicing as a defense attorney. Keiter's demeanor as a prosecutor was something that can probably best be described as "die hard." He was very vocal about his job and his cases and that sometimes tended to rub the Defense Bar the wrong way. I should know. I was his Chief.
As Keiter's chief, I saw a side to him that most people who only saw him in court did not. He was one of the hardest working and most dedicated people that I ever supervised during my tenure. He wrapped himself up in his cases and fought hard for the victims on those cases. He was passionate, almost to a fault. Okay, sometimes to a fault. But that was because he was so driven to see that Justice was done. Those who bothered to get past the verbal sparring that came with dealing with Keiter in court were often surprised to find a compassionate and reasonable prosecutor. He was also a talented trial attorney when it came down to it.
Keiter is also probably one of the most intensely loyal friends I've ever had. I had a lot of preconceived notions about him when I first began supervising him, but those all changed the more I got to know him. He has a perspective into the System that he isn't given enough credit for, as well as a tremendous amount of compassion. Although I know some in the Defense Bar may disagree, I believe he would make a very good judge.
I've already written at length about the pros and cons of the candidates in the nasty battle for County Court at Law # 8, where defense attorney and former prosecutor Dan Simons is running against longtime incumbent Jay Karahan. I'm not going to repeat what I already wrote over here. I will just say (as I did in the other post) that Judge Karahan is a very good judge and he deserves to be re-elected. I've got nothing whatsoever against Dan, but Judge Karahan is the clear choice in this race.
And finally, in the race for County Court at Law # 11, a longtime prosecutor, Aaron Burdette, is running against a longtime defense attorney, Lori Botello. I have to admit bias on this one, because I know Burdette so much better than I know Lori. He's actually my neighbor. I consider him to be a very good friend and I think he would make a great judge. That's not to say that Lori wouldn't. I don't recall having too many dealings with her during my time as a prosecutor, but I know that she is an active member of the Defense Bar who has a good reputation as an attorney.
I'm sure if you have read over this, you may notice that I failed to make an actual recommendation in 75% of the races. That wasn't an accident. I have too many friends running in these races, and, as I noted in my write up on the Dems, this blog isn't worth losing a friend over.
Feel free to share your insights. Just keep them above the belt.