Friday, September 5, 2008

The 174th District Court Judicial Race

The race for the 174th is the one race in this year's round of Judicial Elections that doesn't have an incumbent involved. Judge George Godwin is retiring from the bench after a long and distinguished career. If you've read this blog for awhile, you know I'm a big fan of Judge Godwin's, and whoever ends up taking the bench will have some mighty big shoes to fill, in my opinion.

The Republican candidate for the 174th is Assistant District Attorney Bill Moore, a 20 year veteran of the D.A.'s Office, and the current District Court Chief of the 232nd District Court (Judge Mary Lou Keel). Bill spent a large amount of his career in the elite Special Crimes Division of the Office before returning to the Trial Bureau a few years ago. Bill won the Republican nomination out of a field of four other Assistant D.A.'s who were vying for the job.

I have to admit that I don't know Bill very well on a personal level, but I've always considered him to be an extremely outgoing and nice man. His credentials as an ADA certainly give him a good basis of knowledge that would be required of a Judge, having tried over 100 felony cases, including murders and capital murders.

Bill has also taken the unusual step of refusing to take any campaign donations from anyone who might potentially be practicing in front of him, which is, obviously, a very admirable position.

Personally, I think he would make an excellent judge.

The Democratic candidate for the 174th is former-Judge Ruben Guerrero (thanks to JAGJO for providing the website link. Also, Charles Kuffner over at Off the Kuff posted this brief interview with Ruben awhile back).

Ruben comes from a very politically active background. He was appointed by former-Governor Ann Richards to the 263rd District Court where he served a term before being defeated by Judge Jim Wallace, who still holds the Bench. He was also very active in the Democratic Party, being appointed to be the administrator for the Small Business Administration for the Southwestern States of Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, and New Mexico.

He is a trial lawyer, although I've never seen him in trial. I do see him around the CJC quite a bit, but I've never personally dealt with him on any cases. His time on the Bench of the 263rd were before my time, so I'm going to have to rely on some of my older commenters to fill in some gaps here. He currently offices with my friend, Pat McCann, who speaks very highly of Ruben, and he has always been very nice to me.

In this particular race, I don't know enough about Ruben's experience in criminal law to fully analyze his candidacy. I do know Bill Moore, though, and I personally think he would make an excellent Judge.

Let me know your thoughts . . .


Anonymous said...

Bill Moore is an excellent lawyer. He will not accept money from a defense lawyer or prosecutor. Treats all lawyers with respect. Perfect candidate for the bench.

Anonymous said...

JAGJO writes:

Glad to see this much anticipated topic sprout some legs and get rolling! As you know from previous discussions, I am a committed Republican and I have commentary on several of the candidates but would also like to see you profile civil races as well ( if time permits.)
Guerrreo does have a site:

Unlike Candidate Moore, he is taking contributions from criminal defense lawyers/firms, etc. He served less than a year on the bench before being elected out and unsuccessful at other attempts.

Which leads me to ask an ethics based question. Does personal integrity or morality ( or lack thereof) on any level and of any magnitude, affect professional performance on the bench?

Let me know if you need links to any other sites.

The dinner bell is ringing.. more to come. Things are about to get hoppin around here again. whoot!

Murray Newman said...

Thanks for the web link, JAGJO.

I think personal integrity and morality absolutely plays a role in a person's qualifications for the Bench. A lot is required of a judge for them to be a "good judge", and in my opinion, that's just the base platform. If a judge has questionable morality that leads them to twist the laws that they aren't supposed to twist, then they have no business being a judge in the first place.

I don't know about profiling the civil judges, because I literally know nothing about civil law. I may take a page from Lone Star Times and provide an "Open Comments Day" and let there be a free-for-all in the commentaries though. Let me think on that one.

Anonymous said...

Pat McCann would make an excellent judge!

You're friends with him too?


Murray Newman said...

Yep. Pat and I are very good friends.

jigmeister said...

I know both of them well. Even though most of my career was in prosecution, my first year of practice was not. Ruben gave me an office and lots of help. He is a very caring man and did a good job on the bench after Charlie Hearn retired. He was swept out in a Rep. landslide as were lots of others. I know he was nominated for a federal district bench but a senate filabuster stopped his and other confirmations.

Obviously I worked with Bill over the years in Special Crimes and agree with your comments. He is very qualified and a good guy.

Voters won't lose with either candidate.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what it is about Guerrero but I have heard two distinctly different opinions of him. Those who have known him since he was a sitting judge describe him as "very nice." Then are those who don't know him and have only recently met him who say that he is acting as if his election is a foregone conclusion. Or they say, " I am not impressed." Maybe the latter have an agenda? Or maybe that is an honest assessment? Who knows. But given that a lot of people whom he would encounter would not know him, that does not bode well for the court if he were elected.

On the other hand, I have heard uniform praise for Moore especially from people who are not at his "level." A 20 year veteran would have had an opportunity to rub some people the wrong way. The fact that he has not says something about him.

One of the most important qualities of a judge is treating everyone (from fellow judges to defendants) with dignity and respect. Not all judges do. But no one can say that Judge Godwin does not do that. Big shoes to fill, indeed.

Unknown said...

Guerrero recently picked a day when J. Godwin was away on vacation to come to court and inform the coordinator she needed to look for a new job.


Anonymous said...

Knowing the coordinator in the 174th, I can only imagine how that went over and what pleasantries came from her mouth or fingers or both!

Anonymous said...

JAGJO writes:

I do not know Guerrero personally but I have drawn my own conclusions from what I have seen in political forums and from associates that do know him. My opinion is that he appears to be a nice, somewhat quiet older gentleman but VERY cavalier about this election. ( in fact, most of my dem friends running have varying degrees of a cavalier attitude about this election due to being on the Obama ticket and wanting to " sweep" Harris County and get some dems on the bench again) It seems to be all about "them" and "their party winning" than about an individual performance, or about a non partisian themed quest to provide an experienced and fair judgeship based on integrity and impartiality. Guerrero's appointed partial year on the bench was 15 yrs ago and while being the administrator of the U.S. small business admin. for while is an impressive appointment, it has nothing to do with or beget experience with presiding over a criminal court. My findings on Guerrero coincide with the posts from anon 9-6-08 11:05am and Roxy 9-8-08. In a word, cavalier. If Roxy's post is indeed true, ( and I am not saying it is or isn't) I find that appalling and tacky, tactless and very NON judicial like behavior. Who would want a cocky, mean spirited judge who uses intimidation as a tool, sitting on the bench of a state district criminal court? hmm... I would think that type of behavior would not bode well with the state or the defense. On the other hand, perhaps all the criminal defense firms that contributed to his campaign might not have to worry about such matters! I find it amusing if Mr. Guerrero did in fact, tell the coordinator to look for a new job, when on the first page of his website he writes, " With your help, we can return an honest, fair and ethical judge to the bench of the 174th Criminal District Court of Harris County, Texas". I'll make note of the keyword, " return". Judge Godwin is leaving mighty big shoes to fill and from all accounts, Moore is the better fit. Definitely. Best fit.

Anonymous said...

JAGJO writes:

Normally, judicial races do not garner a lot of mass attention which is unfortunate and especially given during general election years, they are so far down ballot. In general election years there is a lot of straight party ticket voting or voters will only vote for the premier races and thus, leaving the judicial races to be decided amongst loyalists of the respective parties, loyalists to the candidates, etc. A numbers game. It is important to know who you are casting your vote for. Familiarize yourself with the candidates. Know their platforms, their agendas, their credentials. An informed choice is the only choice.

If any readers are unfamiliar with and would like to see and hear Bill Moore on the campaign trail, you can hear him speak tomorrow, Tuesday Sept. 9th at a local republican women's club. Anyone is welcome to attend.
10:30AM - Coffee/Social - 11:00 Speaker Meeting -followed by lunch

( I could not find any speaking engagements for Guerrero... I guess he is too busy interviewing court coordinators and having robe fittings) lol

Anonymous said...

Speaking as a 20 year defense veteran, Bill Moore will be getting my vote. I will never forget the lengths that he went to getting one of my clients out of jail when he discovered that he was innocent of the offense for which a MAG had been filed. It was particularly impressive because as a fairly new attorney, I didn't even know what to file to make it happen. Probably Bill doesn't even remember the incident, but I have never forgotten it and I have always held him in high regard. He would make an excellent judge.

Mark Bennett said...

I just spent two weeks in trial in the 174th, and I have a question: is it too late to vote for Bill Moore?