Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Other Related Races on the 2018 Ballot

In addition to the District and County Court races in Harris County, there are some other races, both Countywide and Statewide, that have ties to Harris County.  I'm not going to spend as much time writing about these races, but I did want to bring them to your attention.

Harris County District Clerk -- Republican Chris Daniel (I) vs. Democrat Marilyn Burgess 
As readers of this blog know, I was a big fan of Chris Daniel's predecessor at District Clerk and I was slow to warm up to Daniel initially.  It didn't take long to figure out that Daniel was an enthusiastic and effective District Clerk.  Over his tenure, he has successfully switched Harris County to the eSubpoena and eFiling systems, which he has done with only relatively minor difficulty.  He's also kept things up and running through Hurricane Harvey and beyond.

His opponent, Marilyn Burgess is a CPA who isn't a lawyer or involved in the Harris County Criminal Justice World.  The Chronicle states she is qualified, and I don't doubt that.  However, Chris Daniel has been doing a good job day in and day out for some time now.  He makes himself available to take questions and/or complainants well outside of business hours.  He's a true public servant.

Here's what the Chronicle had to say about the race.

14th Court of Appeals, Place 4 -- Republican Marc Brown (I) vs. Democrat Charles Spain
Harris County D.A. Alum, former-180th District Court Judge, and Incumbent Judge Marc Brown is on this year's ballot for the 14th Court of Appeals, Place 4.   His opponent is a Civil Attorney, so obviously I don't know much about him.

But I know Marc Brown.  Judge Brown was a highly respected senior prosecutor when he won election to the 180th District Court.  Upon taking the Bench in the 180th, he quickly became one of the most popular and respected judges in the CJC, and it was a job that he loved.  He was an absolute authority on the law and issues of search and seizure.  Once, I filed a Motion to Suppress in his court where he found that the issues I had cited weren't worthy of suppression, but some other issues that he had spotted and I had missed made the evidence suppressable.  He was committed to doing the right thing.

The crowd at the CJC wasn't surprised when he got appointed to the Court of Appeals.  He was a natural choice.  We were all sad to see him go, but glad that he comes back to visit during his vacation days.  He's done a great job at the Court of Appeals and the only reason he should ever leave there would be to head to the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Here's what the Chronicle had to say about the race.

Presiding Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals -- Republican Sharon Keller (I) vs. Democrat Maria T. Jackson
Although a statewide race, this is one that Harris County voters should pay attention to because 339th District Court Judge Maria T. Jackson is running to replace easily the most controversial sitting judge on the Court of Criminal Appeals.

For those of you who don't remember, Judge Sharon Keller drew national headlines in 2007 when she refused to accept a last-minute appeal from Death Row that was filed shortly after five.  Her refusal to accept it resulted in the inmate's execution without the merits of the appeal being reviewed.  When this, understandably, drew a huge wave of criticism, Keller responded with "we close at five."  Per the Chronicle's editorial, Keller also has paid $25,000 to settle multiple judicial complaints against her.  I get that in pro-Death Penalty Texas, some voters might not have a problem with Keller's actions, but they should.  Proceeding with an execution without fully vetting the appeals makes our system no better than a lynch mob.

Since taking the Bench on January 1, 2009, Judge Jackson has rapidly risen in popularity and respect amongst those of us who have practiced before her.  To begin with, she's just a very nice person.  She treats all of those who appear before her with courtesy and respect.  That includes both the lawyers and the people who stand accused of crimes.  She operates from a place of seeking out what is the right thing to do.  I can assure you that Judge Jackson would have never closed the doors on an appeal of any kind (much less one involving the Death Penalty) because it was outside of business hours.

In addition to receiving the endorsement of the Houston Chronicle, Judge Jackson has received the endorsement of the Dallas Morning News and other major newspapers in Texas.  I voted for her this morning.  I'd recommend that you do too.

Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 7 . -- Republican Barbara Parker Hervey (I) vs. Democrat Ramona Franklin
Like Judge Maria T. Jackson, 338th Distric Court Judge Ramona Franklin is also seeking higher office with her run for the Court of Criminal Appeals.  Unlike the race for Presiding Judge, however, Judge Franklin's opponent is not so controversial.  She received a 4 star rating from the Houston Chronicle while Judge Franklin did not meet with the Editorial Board and received a 2.5 star rating.

Here's what the Chronicle had to say about the race.

14th Court of Appeals, Place 5 -- Republican Martha Hill Jamison (I) vs. Democrat Frances Bourliot
As with most of the Appellate Benches, I don't know much about Incumbent Justice Martha Hill Jamison, but I did want to note that former-Public Defender and current defense attorney Frances Bourliot is running as the Democratic candidate.  Without speaking ill of Justice Jamison, I did want to point out that I've known Bourliot for almost ten years and she is a strong advocate for her clients and someone who is extremely knowledgeable in the law.  She would make a great Justice.

Here's what the Chronicle had to say about the race.

1st Court of Appeals, Place 6 -- Republican Harvey Brown (I) vs. Democrat Sarah Beth Landau
I don't personally know either of the candidates for the 1st Court of Appeals, but I did want to point out that Democratic challenger Sarah "Sorcha" Landau is running for the 1st Court of Appeals, Place 6 against Justice Harvey Brown.  Landau is an Assistant Public Defender.

Here's what the Chronicle had to say about the race.

1st Court of Appeals, Place 7 -- Republican Terry Yates vs. Democrat Julie Countiss
The 1st Court of Appeals, Place 7 is an open race with Justice Terry Jennings not seeking re-election.  I've known Republican challenger Terry Yates for over 20 years and he's a friend of mine.  I'm very good friends with his brother, Denny, and I'm a big fan of his wife, Judge Leslie Brock Yates.  I like Terry a lot, but I have to admit I'm not a big fan of his association with Steven Hotze or the anti-same-sex marriage platform.  I only know Democrat Julie Countiss in passing, but I agree with her assessment that politics should be left out of the judicial system.

Here's what the Chronicle had to say about the race.

234th District Court (Civil) -- Republican Wesley Ward (I) vs. Democrat Lauren Reeder
Assistant District Attorney Lauren Reeder is running against incumbent Judge Wesley Ward for the 234th District Court Bench.  I don't do Civil Law and I'm not saying anything negative about Judge Ward.  I will say that I know Reeder and have worked on several cases with her.  I think very highly of her ability and integrity.  She would make a great judge.

Here's what the Chronicle had to say about the race.

269th District Court (Civil) -- Republican Dan Hinde (I) vs. Democrat Cory Sepolio
And, last but not least, my friend and former-Harris County Assistant District Attorney Cory Sepolio is challenging Dan Hinde for the 269th District Court Bench.  As in the race for the 234th, I'd like to reiterate that I don't do Civil Law.  I read the Chronicle's write up on the race and think that Judge Hinde's decision to stop performing weddings was a little weak-kneed.  According to the Chronicle, Judge Hinde acknowledged that he feared drawing a primary opponent if he had performed a same-sex marriage (also known as being Karahan-ed).  I do know Sepolio and I also think very highly of his ability and integrity.  He's a good man and would make a good judge.  Even though he doesn't return my calls about going to Texans games.

Here's what the Chronicle had to say about the race.



So, that's a wrap on my 2018 Election thoughts.  I hope they helped somebody out there somewhere in making a decision, because they sure took a long time to write!

Whether you folow my recommendations or ignore them completely, please please please just get out there and vote!







11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Murray, in Criminal District Court races you've noted, on more than one occasion, that a civil lawyer might be out of their depth at the CJC. I buy that. Curious as to what you'd say if someone pointed out you're recommending criminal practioners for intermediate appeals seats (not sure of the docket breakdown, but it ain't all criminal cases) and civil district seats. Doesn't that logic work both ways? Not trying to be a pedant (just naturally that way), but I sure as hell wouldn't want to draft an opinion on a shut-in royalty dispute with a side of treaspass to try title, or whatever the hell it is those scoundrels do on the other side of the street.

Murray Newman said...

Anon 8:51 p.m.,
I get your point, but the Courts of Appeals handle both Criminal and Civil Appeals, right? I don't know that I would advocate for a full criminal lawyer takeover of it, but it does stand to reason that there at least be some criminal representation, doesn't it? I wouldn't advocate a strictly criminal law practitioner to the Texas Supreme Court (which handles only Civil, obviously).

Anonymous said...

I'll admit blissful ignorance on how the intermediate appeals courts assign the panels for cases. And that relative experience there cuts both ways as civil lawyers are making calls on criminal procedure that maybe they don't know much about practically. But at the District Court level I think I tend to want to apply your rule about experience in civil court too... And family court, etc. One of the great things about our system is the divide at the CCA and Supreme Court. Unfortunately it's all undermined by partisan elections. It's time to end partisan judicial elections -- or I'd love to see some strong candidates run as independents, though that's a bunch of hoops to jump through and you still end up with mouth-breathers like Lloyd Oliver backed by the parties. -Anon at 8:51 -

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your reasonably even-handed examination of the candidates.

Anonymous said...

I made dang sure I didn't vote for Roger. Have to admit, went R on most.

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Anonymous said...

Promise that wasn't me at 8:51--knowing how our intermediate courts work, I would have skipped straight to pointing out your approval of an ADA to a civil bench. It's like your peanut butter is fine in my chocolate, but my chocolate isn't OK in your peanut butter.

Jason

Anonymous said...

Judge Hinde is rude and condescending to the attorneys in his court. I was warned before starting a trial in his court to expect this treatment and he did not disappoint. Corey Sepolio is, from cases I've tried against him, respectful, courteous and a good attorney. If we get the blue wave good riddance to Hinde .

Murray Newman said...

Jason,

My chocolate actually worked in peanut butter law for some time before coming to the chocolate side of things. I'm pretty sure that she would still do well on the peanut butter side of things.

My big gripe is when one side (as in the case of Chuck Silverman) has NO experience with criminal law, but comes over to be a judge.

Anonymous said...

I get it, I just have less confidence than you do in a former peanut butter lawyer.

Sure like to know who 10:12 is. Hinde isn't necessarily rude from my experience (having tried several case in his court), so much as he doesn't like people who are not ready or don't follow the DCO. He's never been rude to me. But I have seen him get after lawyers with excuses.

Jason