Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Race for County Court at Law # 3 (Republican)

The race to replace Don Jackson for Judge of County Court at Law # 3 has a larger number of potential candidates than most other races with four candidates vying for the position just from the Republican side. I only know two of the candidates personally. I hear nice things about a third one. And I have no idea why the fourth one is running other than the fact that she really really likes being judge.

Cary Hart is a former Harris County prosecutor and current defense attorney. Joe Licata is a former prosecutor out of Florida and a long-time defense attorney. Natalie Flemming is a former prosecutor who used to do some visiting judge stints on the County Court circuit. Sharolyn Wood is a former CIVIL court judge who lost her bench in 2008 and is apparently some sort of Republican darling (which really irritates me with Republicans).

The Sharolyn Wood principle is probably what bugs me the most out of these partisan judicial elections. According to Mark Bennett's article that I linked to above, she held a Civil Bench since 1985 and lost it in 2008. Upon losing, she cited some sort of idea that incumbent judges were entitled to their positions and people shouldn't run against them. That's pretty offensive in my opinion.

Nonetheless, former-Judge Wood is looking to reclaim a bench (any bench) and has decided to move over into the criminal arena to find one. That's not a good idea. I tried a murder case one time in front of a visitng civil court judge. It was disastrous. Luckily, I did end up winning the case, but the trial took forever because we kept having to go locate sitting criminal court judges to come explain things to the visiting civil judge. It is apples and oranges when it comes to civil and criminal law. If the Republican Party doesn't realize this and they are putting their support behind Wood, they are sending a message that they don't give a crap about qualifications anymore (NOTE: see also, The Lykos Principle).

My buddy, Joe Licata, is a guy that I've known since very early on in my career at the D.A.'s Office when I was assigned to County Court at Law # 10. Joe did a lot of work in that court, and he couldn't have been any nicer to deal with. He's been practicing law for over 30 years and was a prosecutor in Florida in the early '80s. He has been in Texas for a couple of decades now and handles the fugitive docket detail in Judge Ross' court. He certainly has the qualifications and demeanor to be a good judge.

I don't know Natalie Flemming at all, but the people that I've talked to who do know her have nothing but nice things to say about her. She has a website up on Facebook, but I haven't figured out how to link to it here without putting up my own personal Facebook stuff (which I don't necessarily want to share with ALL of you!) As I noted above, she's a former prosecutor (up until 1994) before leaving HCDA. Her Facebook webpage lists that she worked as a visiting county court judge (which one can do without ever having been elected to be a judge). Her website doesn't mention what she has been doing lately and it doesn't say whether or not she has ever done any defense work.

In this race, however, my support goes to Cary Hart.

Cary was a Misdemeanor Chief prosecutor when I first started at the office, and her husband, Brad, was my first chief when I started. She was a prosecutor at the Harris County D.A.'s Office for 11 years and worked in the Misdemeanor Division, Felony Division, Justice of the Peace Division, Child Abuse, Juvenile, Special Crimes' Major Fraud, and the Asset Forfeiture Division. Since leaving the Office, she has been in business for herself and is a successful defense attorney. In addition to her defense work, she also serves part-time as a municipal prosecutor with the City of Humble, where she focuses on the juvenile docket.

Cary has lengthy jury trial experience, and in addition to that, she has the right demeanor to be a judge. She is one of the most even-tempered and kind hearted people that I know. She takes her job duties extremely seriously and will devote herself to doing the right thing and making the right decisions if elected judge.


Aggie Pct Chair said...

Your endorsements are taken into consideration but it appears the party is starting to fall in line behind different candidates. As endorsements come in, the following appear to be the front runners (front runners in terms of who the party is supporting):

Danny Dexter- I saw Danny speak at a funtion as was very impressed with him. He is a former prosecutor, has donated time and money and has strong Republican morals.

Judge Wood- She is a known commodity. She is smart and an outstanding politician. I know how you all feel about her but she has strong support.

Paula Goodhart- She is quickly making in-roads within the party.

Rachel Palmer- She has been abused unfairly on this blog. I have also met her and was very impressed. She was very polite and well spoken. Good thing she is campaigning hard because had I just relied on this blog, she wouldn't have received my vote.

Anonymous said...

Aggie Pct. Chair, you are what is wrong with the Republican Party. You said you were reading this site to educate yourself but you are only trying to push "your" candidates. You have NO desire to learn about the qualifications of the candidates for CRIMINAL COURTS. What endorsements are you talking about? The ones were who pays the most gets the nod from so-called party "king makers." You don't give a crap about qualifications. You don't give a crap about putting the most qualified candidates up in November ( which we know for the most part will be controlled by what happens to those at the top of the ticket.) All you care about is who has a name and or paid the money. And if the party follows your illogical thinking the CJC will continue to be a disaster.

How do you know Palmer has been abused unfairly on this blog? You met her on the campaign trail where she is trying to get votes and support or you work with her on a daily basis and sees how she treats people? Is she qualified? Yes. Is she the most qualified? No possible way.

Goodhart is making in-roads in the party? I can buy that since Frank Harmon is backing her but then he is backing Wood. She is certainly qualified but is she best for the job? I don't know. Does she have the judicial temperment that is sorely needed? I don't know. Do you? Of course not.

The fact that you or the party is making Wood "the front runner" is the most offensive thing you can do on this blog that deals with the CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE! Every other candidate in this race has at least spent time in the building this court sits and been either a prosecutor, a defense attorney or both. But that doesn't matter to you. The fact that a person who has NEVER practiced criminal law thinks they can suddenly be a judge in a criminal court is beyond insulting to the prosecutors, defense attorneys and judges that go to work in that building everyday. Don't care about them? How about insulting to the victims of crime whose cases will be heard by a judge learning on the job? I am sure they would be THRILLED! But smaller counties have dual jurisdiction courts, you say? True, but the judges who sit on those courts practiced both civil and criminal law before getting on the bench. The Republican Party will be a bunch of hypocrits if they put her on the bench. Every time the GOP accuses a Dem of being unqualified, the Dems should roll out Wood, and others like her, on a Criminal Court Bench.

And Danny Dexter. He spoke at a function and you were impressed. Wow, where have I heard that before. Oh, right, Obama spoke and people passed out at the greatness. All talk and no experience or substance, we Republicans said. Kool-aid drinkers we call the Dems. Who is drinking the Kool-aid now. Dexter never made it very far as a prosecutor and has been out of the CJC for years and years. He is more qualified than Marc Brown and Emily Munoz? You are insane. The only person he beats in qualifications is your buddy Wood.

The people you are supporting may be "good" Republicans but some of them are NOT the best Republicans running. Because you don't know Brown, Munoz, Peebles, Hart, Fleming, Licata or Smith doesn't mean they are not good Republicans. I would bet they are. They have all stepped up with the qualifications to do the job well. And I can tell you that they are ALL more qualified than every candidate you name except maybe Goodhart.

But you don't care and that is why you have no credibility.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:22 said it all. APC does sound frighteningly similar to an Obama follower that ignored the facts and supports because they were told to.

Murray Newman said...

Aggie Precinct Chair,
I think you do yourself and your party a great disservice with your position. Basically you are screaming out that you could care less about the qualifications. Is that really the message you think you should be sending?
Dannny Dexter is a very nice guy, but he left the Office several years ago after having great difficulty with handling the job of a Felony Two, and we haven't seen him around the CJC since. Emily Munoz and Marc Brown have done criminal law all their careers and if the race is going to be tight, it should be tight between them.
Read a Newsweek some time to see how badly the Republicans have created their own demise by killing their image. I don't consider myself either a Republican or a Democrat, but take some friendly advice and think about what you are saying.

Sabrina said...

I was a on a jury panel in Sharolyn Wood's court several years ago. She was very disrespectful of the jurors' time, including arriving about an hour after the time she told us to be back after the lunch break because she was in an "important" meeting. I thought she was very condescending. I have seen her at various professional and political events since then & my opinion of her has not changed. I would never vote for her.

APC, I hope you know which endorsements candidates earn & which endorsements candidates pay for... & just because someone has been around the Republican party for a while does not make them qualified to be a judge.

Anonymous said...

Sabrina and Murray, there is no reason to try to educate APC. He is the worst kind of voter, one who mindlessly follows instructions from party leaders. He is not interested in good government, only a one party government.

Here is a suggestion, since most of the people running are former and current ADA's, why not look at their evaluations and personal files in the office. That should tell voters something about these people. Did they demonstrate the characteristics we want of a judge. Do they know the law. This material is subject to the freedom of information act. Should be easy to get.

Anonymous said...

I heard Danny Dexter is fighting the release of his file from the DAs office. Something to hide?

Xi said...

Anon 7:55,
Not only does Judge Pat undoubtedly disagree with your last paragraph, her position proves that the APCs of Harris County rule. APC's picks will win regardless of the merits unless we get off our collective asses. If we worked for responsible government as much as we bitch about not having it the Lykoses and APCs of Harris County would be powerless.

Anonymous said...

Amen Xi. Amen. It is imperative that those of us who care what happens in the CJC, and our whole government, get off our butts and get to helping the qualified candidates and get the vote out for them. It frightens me that APC and those like him will continue to dictate who gets elected regardless of qualifications. Only way to fight it is to spread the word and get the vote out.

Aggie Pct Chair said...

The information given is just that, information. I follow AHCL's blog and agree with most of what he says. Since there are other qualified candidates, those candidates need to take heed of what is happening. Some are losing ground in my opinion. I only communicate with a few thousand, but I do hear what the others are saying.

I was speaking with a campaign manager (I will not disclose the name of the candidate) and he told me that if you don't share the view of the "folks" on this blog, you will never be received well.

While this blog is supposed to be an open forum, you will be attacked viciously if you disagree. I don't know that I agree with him 100% but I sure have been attacked on a regular basis on this blog.

Please don't kill the messenger, I think we all have the same goal, the best candidate for Harris County. The democrats do not have the same problem because they can't even get one qualified candidate.

Anonymous said...

Looks like Xi has grown up. I agree Xi, you should stop bitching.

Sabrina, she was also very disrespectful of the attorneys as well, often deriding them in front of a courtroom full of people. I saw it several times, heard about it countless others, and although I was never a target that kind of behavior should not be tolerated. Her robe went to her head, no doubt about it. Now she can't make it in the real world like a real lawyer (or even mediator), so she has to go crawling back to the voters to give her a job.

She reminds me of Judge Mark Davidson, a Republican who also lost. Except he talked himself into an asbestos multi-district litigation bench. A job that he did while also being judge of the 11th district court. So now he gets less work, and stays a judge despite losing his election.

Those free-market Republicans really crack me up. They like to talk about the real world and free market, but some of them just can't make a living in it.

Anonymous said...

Please don't kill the messenger, I think we all have the same goal, the best candidate for Harris County.

That is clearly not your goal. Wood was consistently ranked as one of the worst and least consistent judges in the County in Bench/Bar polls. And you want her to serve as a judge in an area of law where she never practiced or served as a judge before? Just because she pays her party dues and attends the meetings regularly?

You've been attacked here the last week because you show a clear disregard for competence in the bench. Hell, I get yelled at here all the time, but it's because I have a different idea of what justice is and should be. You have a disregard for justice altogether. So you're in for some serious double-penetration here.

That's your failing, not the blog's.


Anonymous said...

People should take a hard look at Wood before voting for her. She by no means is a true Republican. I would suggest reading Thyssen Henschel vs. William B. Purnell. Her decision is very eye opening as to her thought process and her decision was over turned at the end. It never would have gotten that if one of the parties any made a hefty campaign contribution. Some people have more integrity than others however.

Xi said...

Anon 9:31,
Hey Pot, look in the mirror.

Anonymous said...

"So you're in for some serious double-penetration here. "


Anonymous said...

APC still does not get it. You will be challenged every time you make stupid statements and you are so good at doing just that. Please admit, if McCain, Palin, Rush or any other current darling of the Republican Party were to maintain their current thinking but put a D next to their name, you would find them unqualified. Party purity is the main concern.

I am concerned about Dexter fighting to prevent release of his office file. Is this confirmed? APC, call Dexter and ask him. Instead of being a mindless minion, show some backbone and research the issue. Call each of the candidates and ask about the release of their office file and please report. I already know several of these candidates have no compunction about the release of their files because I have asked.

Aggie Pct Chair said...

I spoke to people close to the Palmer campaign and they said that they would be happy to release her file and described it as "impeccable." So is her office file relevant or is it just Mr. Dexter's because he may have a bad evaluation or two.

As for Judge Wood, she is a loyalist and I think she should be commended for that. I have researched some of the cases listed by these bloggers and I agree that she doesn't need another bench. Thank you for the education.

Believe it or not, I do pay attention to opinions on this blog. Black Ink just gave his supprt to Peyton Peebles and I believe Black Ink to be the most reliable blog yet.

Anonymous said...

APC all candidates files are relevant if you are going to make an informed decision. I feel like posters had to beat you into becoming educated as to Wood. You have previously indicated you now have questions about Lykos and now Lykos is pushing Palmer. Do you now have additional questions? Now complete your training and ask for the other candidates files and read them. I think you will find more than just a bad review or two, you will find information that is important to making an informed decision. You will find some candidates a draw from their files. Don't just accept the first one you heard in a speech, talk to each of the candidates. The Republican Party has a good number of candidates but likewise has some bad ones. There are several races where more than one candidate is qualified. GET EDUCATED!

Anonymous said...

APC - Will you vote for this guy? "He was a handsome, athletic, well-spoken young man. He was unfailingly polite ...He was a hardworking volunteer for the Republican Party...and was considered by his elders as somebody worth grooming for a possible future as state governor, perhaps even president" OOPS - Ted Bundy won!!! (Please remember well-spoken, polite, Republican does not necessarily guarantee someone is the best candidate)

Friend of APC said...

Anon 7:51, swap the party labels and you have just described Barry Obama!

Sabrina said...

APC (& others), I'm curious where you are getting your info regarding the family court candidates.

Anonymous said...

I am quite sure Danny Dexter does not want his evaluation from the HCDAO made public. He did not do well as a prosecutor. I have worked with him and seen him in trial. Just because someone was a prosecutor does not mean they were good at it. And when he left, we have never seen him around as a defense attorney. He may be a very nice person, but is not qualified to be a criminal court judge. I wish him well, but I do not wish for him to be a judge.

We all know many good speakers who win because they are just good speakers. But that does not make them qualified.

Anonymous said...

Cary Hart has my vote! I actually agree with everything Murray said about her. She is intelligent, great work ethic, wonderful professional demeanor, and she will do everything in her power to be a fair judge and make the right rulings. She was good prosecutor and good defense attorney. She has seen both sides and understands her role as a judge. Good luck, Cary!

Anonymous said...

It is a sad commentary on the state of the Republican party that someone is qualified to be a judge because they were "impressive" or because they did a "good job" as a CIVIL court judge. I don't care how "impressive" you are at a function. If you don't know Texas criminal law, you should not be a sitting as a judge in a criminal court. It would be analogous to me saying that because my dermatologist is "impressive", I will let him do my quadruple-bypass.

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness Sharolyn Wood didn't win a Criminal Court Judgeship.
during the time she was running she showed up at a Republican Women's group which hosted a candidates mixer in 2010. In conversation with her she said she was running for criminal court judge. I asked her if she was a criminal lawyer. After a pause, she abruptly stated NO and whisked away on her broom. Now years later she is TROLLING the halls of the Harris County Courts looking for a visiting judge position. "Need to make some money" she says. Both Woods need to be banished from Harris County forever...The husband probate judge is still assigning guardianships to his cronies so that they can abscond with the entire life savings of people who have worked hard all of their lives. Probate Judges tried to make it look as if they had reformed the fee system of their appointees for a time, as posted on the Harris County Probate web-site but that has been done away with since the bad publicity has faded into the past and it has been replaced by a pathetic document which should be titled, "How many ways can we rape their estate"

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