Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Race for County Court at Law # 1 (Republican)

One of the major downsides to writing this blog comes around election time when I have multiple friends running for the same bench. I experienced it in 2008 in the 174th District Court race when we had Kevin Keating, John Jocher, Bill Moore, and Terrance Windham all running for the same bench, and all four of them were my friends. Not to mention that all four of them would have all made great judges.

So, the same phenomena is happening now with the Republican Primary election for County Court at Law # 1, which pits defense attorneys Peyton Peebles and Paula Goodhart and former-179th District Court Judge Mike Wilkinson against each other. All three candidates are people I like and respect, and all of them have the requisite intelligence and demeanor to be good judges.

The CCL # 1 bench is currently occupied by Judge Reagan Helm, who has decided not to seek re-election.

Former 179th Judge Mike Wilkinson spent many years on the bench before losing in November 2008 to Democrat Randy Roll. As I posted back then, I think Judge Wilkinson is one of those freakishly intelligent people who made a very good judge when he was on the bench. The problem with Judge Wilkinson was that he had erratic hours that left both defense attorneys and prosecutors complaining about his schedule. He is certainly capable of being the Judge of Court 1, but his hours are going to be his biggest drawback. Not too many prosecutors and defense attorneys are going to look too forward to returning to the days of backlogged dockets and the judge not arriving until after 10:30 every day.

Former-prosecutor and now defense attorney Paula Goodhart is also an extremely intelligent and capable candidate for CCL # 1. She was a prosecutor for many years, and finally left the office as a District Court Chief assigned to the Special Crimes Division. She has tried multiple serious and violent cases and she knows the law. She has been on the defense side now for about three or four years, and knows both perspectives.

Paula is a friend of mine, and her husband, Craig Goodhart, was my Division Chief at the Office. I consider them family friends, and I think that a lot of the criticism that she has gotten on the blog regarding her attempts to implement a flex time program at the D.A.'s Office are unfair and irrelevant to whether or not she would be a good judge. She tried to make more flexible hours for prosecutors that needed more time to accomodate their family schedules. Some people disagreed with it, and ultimately flex hours weren't implemented, but I hardly think she should be faulted for trying. It does NOT speak to her work ethic, and it has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not she would make a good judge.

Paula had initially set out to run for County Court at Law # 4 and she had my whole-hearted support. Prior to the filing deadline, she switched to the CCL # 1 race. Personally, I wish she hadn't done so, because it put her running against Peyton Peebles.

Peyton Peebles announced that he would run for the bench long before any of the other candidates did, and also before Helm announced that he wouldn't be running again. If you ask me, it takes guts to run against a long-time sitting Republican judge. But Peyton has guts, and he believed that he would be a more effective judge than Helm, when he announced his candidacy.

I've known Peyton since I came to Harris County back in 1999. He had started at the Office a little bit before I had and he spent some time in and out of the Trial Bureau before going full time into the Appellate Division. For those of you who don't know how the Office works, the Appellate Division not only handles responding to cases that are appealed -- they also spend a large amount of time answering frantic phone calls from prosecutors in trial who had a legal issue pop up that needs resolving. The folks of Appellate, like Peyton, Eric Kugler, and Kevin Keating (amongst many others) were like Godsends for us trial attorneys who suddenly had to do some legal research. I can't even begin to count how many times Peyton bailed me out of a crack during trial once he was in Appellate.

Peyton left the District Attorney's Office several years ago and has spent that time doing criminal defense. He still spends the majority of the time doing appellate work and he keeps up on all of the current case law. Peyton's temperment, work ethic and knowledge of the law make him the ideal candidate out of the three running, in my opinion. I promised him my support when he first announced he was running, and I stand by that promise.

Peyton is a good man and would make a great judge.


Anonymous said...

What changed for Paula Goodhart? 4 would have been better----Now many people are in a bind.

Xi said...

How is it that Mike Wilkinson's actual implementation of judicial "flex time" was a bad and inefficient thing but Paula Goodhart's attempts to implement a substantially similar "flex time" program at the HCDAO so that she and other prosecutors could work whatever hours they felt like is an admirable thing??????????????
For you to say that:"It does NOT speak to her work ethic, and it has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not she would make a good judge." is confusing.
If Paula Goodhart wants to spend more quality time with the kids during normal working hours,then maybe she ought not be running for judge.

Anonymous said...

As a county court judge she will be able to leave by noon and be with kids. Can Mr goodhart set as a visiting judge if she not there?

Anonymous said...

Xi, you are as stupid as APC. Wilkinson disrespected others by making them wait for hours while he selfishly played at home. That is vastly different than someone who wants to prep her cases while at home.

How many trials has each one had as a state & defense attorney?

The Fishing Musician said...

I think a trial attorney, like Paula, is better suited to a trial court judge position than an appellate attorney. How come Peyton isn't running for an appellate bench?

And true, there are important legal matters handled in Misdemeanor Court, but how much appellate know-how does it take to run a County Court vs. a district court (more issues and far more serious crimes)or an appellate court?

Wilkenson should man up and go to work as a prosecutor somewhere and work some 8 to 5 work hours for a change. Might do his temperment good.

Anonymous said...

Murray, will you be giving this same opinion for every race, reps & dems? Shouldn't be too hard for some since no one has any clue who they are.

Anonymous said...

Xi, obviously you aren't a criminal defense attorney practicing in Harris County or you would know how annoying it was to be forced to sit and wait on a judge to decide to show up so you could get your business done and leave. Wilkinson showed complete contempt for the attorneys and defendants in his court and let us know that his time was far more important than ours. Oddly enough, while I used to sit there wasting time and money waiting for him, I used to think how I would never, ever vote for him for anything. And I won't.

Aggie Pct Chair said...

Paula Goodhart has my vote.

Xi said...

Anon 6:48,
Your comment:
"Xi, you are as stupid as APC. Wilkinson disrespected others by making them wait for hours while he selfishly played at home. That is vastly different than someone who wants to prep her cases while at home.", shows your ass and makes my point.
I thought that deductive reasoning made it fairly obvious that I do not support Wilkinson's behavior and as an extension thereof do not support the concept of "flex time" for government employees generally, my bad.
I was merely pointing out that, based on past behavior, Paula Goodhart is a budding Mike Wilkinson in that respect.
BTW, we would all like to hang out at home "prepping our cases" but being at the office affords the county better bang for their dollar in too many ways to list.
You obviously have no employees of your own and hopefully are not in a supervisory position for the government.
Grow the fuck up.
PEYTON PEEBLES gets my vote while you and the Aggie Pct Chair types can vote for candidates like Goodhart, Palmer and Lykos.....

Twilight Zoned said...

Flex time Goodhart;
Who'd have thought.

Having to work from nine to five;
Ain't your idea of being alive.

Just hoping to get a a big black robe;
So you can prep cases at your abode.

Rush hour traffic is such a hassle;
Paula would rather be in her castle.

Her little ones are just so cute;
Presiding in court will be so moot.

Wilkinson's playbook was a disaster;
Goodhart however will be the master.

Paula Paula who are you kidding;
Voting for you would be rekindling.

Anonymous said...

Aggie, not long ago you posted the following....Point taken. One reason I follow Mr. Newman is because I was told that this website would provide insight as to who would be the best Republican criminal choices. In my precinct, we agree that the Chronicle is not reliable and does not choose the most qualified candidate. We also don't want a mailer that was paid for. We are truely trying to educate ourselves.

For example, the Chronicle is agenda driven. I believe in the death penalty and the Chronicle has already influenced our DA in that respect. Death penalty proponents are not blind to the apparent pandering by Judge Lykos. We believe it is directly realted to the type of press she is getting from the Chronicle. In our opinion, a positive story from the Chronicle is a negative in reality.

On the topic of the death penalty, how many death penalty cases were tried in 2009?

I digress.... Sorry.

In my defense, I am reading this blog and am doing my best to make sure my precinct is educated. My precinct has never been more motivated to vote, this past election was a wake up call for all of us.

Thanks for the insight and all of the feedback.

January 10, 2010 9:13 PM


Anonymous said...

A trial attorney is not what we need in county court. We need an appellate attorney who knows the law and can referee the trial attorneys. It stands to reason that if we had Judges who knew the law on the bench, we would spend much less time and money on appeals. Peyton is bright, pleasant, and hard working. Please make sure you tell your friends and family members to vote Peyton Peebles for Harris County Criminal Court at Law #1. I'm hoping to change Jigmeister's mind before the election.

Anonymous said...

Murray, you let people post bs lies about people you call family or friends? What happens to those you don't like?

Anonymous said...

How many trials has Peyton had as a prosecutor or defense attorney?

jigmeister said...

Anon 12:36: A couple of comments: Both Paula and Payton appear qualified for the county bench. Those that think that someone who got to Number 2 and then spent years in appellate, assisting other lawyers and arguing before the appellate courts isn't qualified are quite mistaken. I just didn't get to know Payton very well (my generation has help from Calvin, Tim Taft, and Alan Curry, all extremely talented people). By the same token, Paula's trial record speaks for itself. Those that impugn her character don't know her. I don't know why she moved from the race in 4 to 1. Doesn't see the right move given that Payton's supporters would probably have supported her for 4. Frankly, I very happy Helm is leaving, he struck me as a real strange duck.

Anonymous said...

Peyton couldn't handle the trial bureau and now he thinks he is qualified to preside over a job that he couldn't handle? Now that is funny.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:36,
I agree that Peyton Peebles is the most qualified candidate for CCL #1.
He has sufficient trial experience and the quality of his courtroom ability is proven.
Anon 1:01's complaints of inexperience ought to stay focused on his/her boss, Pat "I've never tried a case in my entire life" Lykos.
Peyton also brings a diverse intellectual perspective to the bench and is cordial and empathetic.
It does not bode well for Harris County to have an arrogant bully as judge who is more concerned with herself than the rights of others.

1tim said...

Do Peyton & Paula still consider you a friend after opening them up to a good bashing?

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Anon 12:57 p.m.,
I let people post their opinions whether I agree with them or not. I have rules about people's personal lives staying out of the forum, but other than that, I don't edit. If I did, it would put me in the position of only allowing that which I agreed with. That would make me no better than Lykos and Lowry.

That being said, I am highly disappointed with the animosity being shown between the Goodhart and Peebles Camps. Knowing both Paula and Peyton, I am very comfortable in saying that they don't have that type of animosity towards EACH OTHER, so I have no idea why their supporters feel the need to get so nasty which each other.

Theoretically, we're all (at least somewhat) educated professionals around here, so I'm surprised at how nasty the comments have gotten already. If this is how it goes, I'm not looking forward to the rest of the campaign season.

Anonymous said...

I have known both Paula and Payton from when they came to the office through the present date. Both are very talented attorneys. The comments about Paula and flex time are very unfair. If you know anything about the attorneys in the office during the years Paula was there, you would know ADAs spent untold and uncredited hours working at home after normal work hours and on weekends. Paula was one of those attorneys. There was never any suggestion of shirking her job while exploring the possibility of flex time. Payton did not leave the trial bureau because he could not cut it there. Payton is a talented attorney and quite frankly much smarter than me. It turned out he is an excellent appellate attorney. Both are qualified to sit on a bench.

Jacked and Coked said...

It's official APC has now endorsed Paula Goodhart.She'll be in Lowry's mail-out before we know it.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:59.
....."The comments about Paula and flex time are very unfair."
1. How so?
2. What EXACTLY did Paula propose as her flex time plan?

Putting in extra time at home is commendable. Lots of successful folks do it and never think twice. But it does not excuse one from performing her other duties in an office setting at normal work hours. To allow an employee to alter her work hours to accommodate non-emergency personal needs out of pure convenience to self is disruptive to other coworkers who are not so narcissistic. Fellow ADAs should not be arbitrarily and unfairly burdened to compensate for the whimsical desires of such arrogance.

Anonymous said...

anon 12:57,

"Murray, you let people post bs lies about people you call family or friends? What happens to those you don't like?"

If you can't handle a small blog forum's critique then it's a damn good thing your girl Paula isn't running against a POS like Lykos. Unless you're from another planet, this is nothing.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:35, I don't know that Paula had a plan as much as a suggestion to look into flex time. I have been aware of flex time in business since the 1990's and actually talked about it and a four day work week at that time. I did some research and found flex time has been used and discussed in modern business administration much longer than I was aware. By the way, it has been used very successfully when properly implemented. I would suggest reading modern business administration practice and theory before criticizing flex time plans. I know none of the current administration has demonstrated any knowledge of those practices and wonder if you are a member of the Lykos administration. Your comments really seem to be of a personal nature and not founded on a study of the issue.
anon 2:59

Anonymous said...

People apparently don't know what flex time is. Typical office hours are 8-5. Some would prefer to work 7-4 so they can pick up their children from school. While others prefer to work 9-6. That does not mean that Paula is a slacker. In fact, she was one of the hardest working, most respected ADAs at the office. She was a smart, tough and talented prosecutor. I do not understand at all why people are being so mean to her on this blog. We would be lucky to have her as a county court judge. Peyton is also a qualified candidate, so may your decision. But stop slamming Paula when you clearly have no idea what you are talking about.

Anonymous said...

All this talk about Paula and flex time is really pretty amusing. How many of you really know what her actual proposal was? My understanding of it was that some prosecutors might do better working 7-4 or 9-6 rather than a traditional 8-5. And, since very most proseuctors work whatever hours are required to get the job done (usually a lot more than the daily 8-5), that doesn't bother me. The flex plan that floated around in Paula's day from what I remember still required the employee to work a 40 hour week.

I also don't get the big controversy over working at home. Lots of prosecutors put in weekend hours but don't get credit for that. Now, if they get in their car and drive to the office (and did the exact same work) they can earn comp time. Work is work, whether you do it at home or at the office. Prosecutors don't get time and a half of overtime. The idea that they earn comp time while they sit at home pouring over police reports or watching DWI videos certainly doesn't offend me - especially since most of them are so maxed out on comp time anyway that they could never use all the time they have accrued.

Anonymous said...

so I'm surprised at how nasty the comments have gotten already.

Already? I've seen it since the first dissenting opinion I wrote on here.

It's no surprise given many in the audience.


Anonymous said...

It's amusing that some of you think Payton can't handle himself as a trial lawyer. I see him in the TRIAL courthouse about every day on RETAINED cases. The trial judges sure seem to think he knows what he's doing.

Anonymous said...

I don't know Goodhart from a hole in the ground, but flex time can be a very valuable thing in large offices. It helps keep the budget lower, saves expenses such as gas and parking for employees, and as mentioned still requires full-time hours in the office. If she tried to implement it, I'd say she showed significant initiative in trying to get it done. You people upset at Leitner's "8 to 5" e-mail should agree. You "we close at 5" types are small minded bureaucrats who never will, and probably are opposing Goodhart based on some personal prejudice. Flex time is nothing to get pissy about and helps put the employees in charge of their own schedule when they'd still work plenty of overtime anyway. Morale seems to be another issue lately, but here you get upset at attempts to improve it.

Still no surprise, coming from this group.


Anonymous said...

Anon 9:14, what does "RETAINED" have to do with qualifications? Some of the worst attorneys at the CJC are RETAINED. His qualifications are fine whether appointed or retained.

Anonymous said...

Political Realities – When two worlds collide: Prosecutors as politicians.

In comparing prosecutors and politics, the harsh reality is this: In politics, the “best candidate” may never get elected. In 98’ so many prosecutors were running on both sides of the ticket (mostly R’s) that prosecutorial qualifications became nonsensical. IE: “We have in this corner candidate A who has tried 45 Capital Murder trials and over there candidate B only tried 20…Soooo candidate A is more qualified.

Generally, (especially during the Holmes cocoon job security era) Chief Prosecutors of a court with a retiring Judge was generally thought to be the Heir apparent to that bench. (Poe – McSpadden – Rains etc. Here’s one of the problems a prosecutor faces when they leave the Office and venture out onto the vertigo landscape called politics:

1)The Courthouse crowd will never be the ones electing you or un-electing you;
Was someone in Appellate, a Felony Chief, or merely a Misdemeanor chief – doesn’t mean squat.

2)It’s who get to endorse you and they then use THEIR $ to put YOUR name on a mass mailer in the Primary. Primaries can be a very disheartening process because Good People don’t even get a chance if they aren’t “on the list”.

3)Don’t expect the D.A. Crowd to donate one cent to your campaign. You send out an invitation to every single employee of the DA’s Office and you are truly lucky to clear $100.00 MAX!

4)Don’t expect these same people to actually VOTE on election day, even be registered to vote, or better yet show up for the God forsaken Runoff election if any. Remember how Kelly relied on the most basic of political support from blood sworn backers who just didn’t give a damn to get off their ass and vote in the runoff. Anecdotal true story: The day AFTER Kelly lost a HPD Officer went into Special Crimes to get a S/W and he heard someone talking about the election and he said VERY LOUDLY, Yep, I gotta be sure and go vote for her!

5) Candidates will get help from people they never thought they would, and WILL be let down by those they think would have helped.

6) Just because someone is a Good Prosecutor does it mean they would make a good prosecutor supervisor or even Judge. There is an old saying in politics when it comes to War Heroes running for public office. As for the Courthouse, many prosecutors might think they fall into this category but it goes like this: “In Politics, Great Generals sometimes become little children.” (McCain vs. Obama)

7)Bottom Line: After the Primary “It don’t matter what any individual candidate does or doesn’t do in a positive venture”. For Judges – It’s all the top of the ticket and you rise or fall based on that – and THAT my former fellow prosecutors is NOT “Justice” but reality!

Anonymous said...

8:46 First accurate summary of the realities of the Harris County judicial election landscape. Well said.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:46,
Great post and very true. I forsee apathy and lack of monitary and get out the vote support from the courthouse crowd leading to a clueless public electing people who "paid their dues" to the party and have "name recognition", like Wilkerson, Wood, Law or those with the money like Palmer and Dexter putting their name everywhere. The complaining will continue but the crowd will deserve what they get. Alot of people hate the idea of Lowery and Hotze and other endorsers but to have a chance some of these people might have to play the game even if they , and we, don't like it. It is unfortunate but it is politics. What are you going to do?

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:59,
No doubt that many industries have shift work, flex time, cross coverage of various forms, etc. However, a prosecutor's duties are not limited to reading files at home and criminal trials should not be subject to tag team prosecuters so Paula can pick up or drop off her kids. Docket and other court settings are set by the judge, not the prosecutor and Paula is not a judge just yet.
Teleconferences from home do not suffice to conduct the day to day business of a prosecutor. Many employees don't like their schedules, but the employee is not the boss.
But then again I'm old fashioned....virtual prosecutors may be the answer. LOL.
9:22 and 10:08's suggestions that simple 7-4 and 9-6 were Paula options are obviously misinformed. Office responsibilities are not always secondary to an employees' personal life and in a constant state of flux coming and going as one pleases. Why not allow prosecutors to come in at noon and leave at 8 if they feel like it? When the kiddos are with baby daddy for the summer then 9-5 may be cool. To allow venue work hours to constantly be subject to change based on personal life circumstances is called shirking responsibilities. Court settings, meetings, interviewing witnesses with the office doggie etc. should not be subject to Paula's whims--Paula's whims should be subject to her job responsibilities.
Where do you draw the line.
The kinder gentler mandate for employees is bullshit in a DAs office. Imagine if Paula tried to pull this crap in any other successful big law firm in Houston!

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:42 I now put you in the same category as I have placed some others who post-not worth the response. You clearly have a personal vendetta against Paula. You reject the facts because the facts interfere with reality. No one was saying tag teams, no one was saying change schedule at whims, nothing you describe is based on what was suggested. If you knew anything about the office, you would have known Paula was in special crimes at the time. If you knew anything about the office you would know a 7-4 schedule would actually help the police because their schedule generally had officers looking for special crimes help well before 8 am. Your comments have no value. I will no longer respond to anything you post.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:49,
Saying a lie over and over may fool a lot of fools but it doesn't make it true. When Special Crimes was special is wasn't a 7-4 gig. Some of those folks used to really care. But then again you're a big bad smart ADA I'm just a fed up dumb ass homicide cop. But we sure as hell won't be voting for your girl Paula.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:46,
Unfortunately, truer words were never spoken in our last DA election.
What an incredible prosecutor Harris County lost and look what we got in her place.......

Sabrina said...

Paula got the Hotze endorsement. I'm curious to know if that makes any of you more or less likely to vote for her.

Anonymous said...

anon 2:40,
less likely