Monday, January 25, 2010

The Race for County Court at Law # 4 (Republican)

The race to replace retiring Judge Jim Anderson has three Republicans competing to see which one of them gets to face unopposed Democratic challenger Al Leal in November. The candidates run from one that I hear great things about to one that I'm feeling kind of blah about to one that I think the world might fall off its axis if she were to be elected.

Former Judge Janice Law is a very nice lady who has no business being a judge. Her behavior on the bench became so egregious that the Houston Press ran this article about her bizarre actions.

I was the chief in her court for several months back in 2002 and I was there when she came in third place in a primary where she was running as an incumbent. Although many of Judge Law's quirky actions were nothing more than amusing moments, some were very serious.

I can recall dealing with a female defendant who had been found incompetent to stand trial. The State acknowledged she was incompetent. The defense attorney knew she was incompetent. The evaluating doctor had declared she was incompetent with a likelihood to regain her competency. It should have been a simple resolution.

Except that the DEFENDANT decided to declare that she was competent.

This isn't an unusual phenomenon at all. Mentally ill defendants often times believe that they are the only sane ones in a courtroom. An uncontested hearing was to be held and a jury would find the defendant incompetent with a likelihood to regain before facing charges.

But on this particular case, for some reason, Judge Law thought that the Defendant's assertions of her competency called for a contested hearing where the Defense should be arguing for Competency while the State argued that she wasn't. In other words, Judge Law was ordering the defense attorney to proceed in a manner that was most definitely not in his client's best interest. She wouldn't listen to my arguments or the defense arguments to the contrary.

Luckily, we were able to ultimately resolve the case without the hearing being forced upon us, but any judge in their right mind should have known that what Law was doing was insanity.

Trust me on this one, guys. Janice Law does NOT need to be back on the bench.

Defense Attorney Jackie Gifford is also a very nice lady. She and her husband, Bill Gifford, have been fixtures at the courthouse for as long as I can remember. They are a cute couple and kind people. But, I'm not really sure that I see Jackie as a judge. Although she handles a lot of cases and is always pleasant, I don't recall ever seeing her in trial or doing all that much legal wrangling that was particularly astounding. I'm not saying anything negative about her, but I'm hard pressed to say anything that makes me think she is a particularly good choice for judge.

Former police officer and now attorney John Clinton is somebody that I've never met. That being said, it seems to me that I'm about the only person in the CJC who HASN'T met him. I keep hearing great things about him. I hear that he's a good lawyer, a great leader, and that he would make a great judge.

But, I can't offer that opinion from my own knowledge. You guys are welcome to comment in here (as always) on what you know, and hopefully I'll get a chance to meet him in the near future.

But in the meantime, whatever you do, please don't bring back Janice Law.


Anonymous said...

Jackie Gifford is the only one qualified. The popo officer adamantly campaigns that he backs the blue. Being conservative is good but swallowing on every cop that comes before you is just plain wrong. He will never be fair or impartial.

Jancie Law is just a nut.

Anonymous said...

Actually, John Clinton, having been a police officer is just that, fair and impartial. He was trained to be fair and impartial. His job is to follow the law and apply the law to each case individually. He will most definitely back the blue if the blue is following the law as it is their job to do so. As you say, Jackie Gifford is a nice lady, but I don't see her as a leader and most definitely not a judge and of course, Janice Law is a nut!

Anonymous said...

Was Clinton a real cop? Rumor has it that he never worked any cases in the robbery division.

Will uninformed republicans vote for a last name of Law rather than Clinton?

jigmeister said...

I worked several robbery cases with Clinton over the years, so that argument is specious. The real question is over his experience. I would have liked to see him practice law for a few years before running for the bench. That said, I can tell you from experience that you don't want Leal back on the bench. He was a political judge. I was chief in his court in 1981 and he declared that all cops are liars. His decisions on cases that garnered any publicity were based on what was good for his reputation. Other than that, a nice guy. Don't know Jackie Gifford.

Aggie Pct Chair said...

Clinton is by far the best candidate. He has been a parety loyalist, risked his life on the streets for the citizens and will protect us from crime. Need I say more? Criticisms to follow I am sure but I cannot see an argument that would justify any different vote.

Anonymous said...

APC, the only criticism I have, THIS TIME, is you continuing with the "party loyalist" stuff. I agree with everything you said about Clinton, and I am leaning to voting for him, but using "party loyalist" is what bothers people on here. You want good, strong, loyal republicans. No RINOS. I get that. But being a "partly loyalist" doesn't mean you are qualified to do the job, aka Sherolyn Wood, Danny Dexter, Janice Law.

Anonymous said...

Clinton has been a plaintiff's lawyer filing personal injury cases. In the civil courthouse he's known as just another plaintiff's lawyer filing one car wreck after another. That's a conservative Republican to you APC?

Again, all you care about is whether or not he attended the meetings. You're headed for having a Lykos on every bench if that's your only (and so far it is) criteria.

Anonymous said...

Need I say more?

Yeah, you might say things like "he will follow the law, defend the Constitution, and be a fair and impartial judge."

Those are the things that keep citizens safe, from criminals and our own government.


Xi said...

APC has replaced Rage as the bane of Murray's blog.
How funny is it that Rage is actually the one offended most?

Anonymous said...

A long time ago I had a chance to be the jury foreman on a DWI trial in Judge Jim Anderson's court. The Judge had a difficult time keeping a certain "Wild Bill" Defense Attorney under control and he told us afterward that our guilty verdict was the first loss suffered by the charismatic DWI defender. Judge Anderson was impressive and I am sure will be missed.

Anonymous said...

There aren't many who will miss Little Jim but Little Jay is toting his cigars around and ready to fill the vacancy.

Anonymous said...

Gifford has my vote in court #4. She has a good grasp on the law and also has common sense from real life experience as well as criminal law experience. I was also a Chief in court #5. There is too much chaos in a courtroom run by Judge Law. I also have not met the cop who is running and will not give my vote to someone who is new on the criminal courthouse scene. Gifford seems like a solid choice in my view.

Anonymous said...

This I know. Johnny Clinton is longtime friends with State Rep Allen Fletcher. They both spent their careers at HPD in the Robbery Division. Clinton mentions Fletcher on his web page and has pictures of them together.

For those that don't know...State Rep Allen Fletcher is currently under investigation by the FBI and the SEC.

The Harris County DAs office put the case on him together and turned it over to the Feds.

Fletcher "allegedly" ripped off a lot of people (including some of his HPD buddies) in an illegal stock scam.

There was an article in the Texas Monthly magazine that documented Fletcher's scam. Those in the know at the DAs office said the article was just the tip of the iceberg.

If Clinton is stupid enough to align himself with someone who is under criminal investigation, while he tries to campaign for Judge...he's not smart enough to serve on the bench. Period.

Here is a link to the Texas Monthly article on Fletcher:

Anonymous said...

How funny is it that Rage is actually the one offended most?

I'd say sad more than funny, but then again I never figured you for someone who gave a damn about the Constitution so your apathy is expected.


Anonymous said...

Clinton has no real criminal courtroom experience as a lawyer. That frightens me! His experience as a police officer is admirable. But it has no place as a criminal judge without the experience as a criminal lawyer, state or defense. Filing CIVIL lawsuits is NOT the same, as it has been discussed Woods. Although a nice guy, making the POLITICAL ROUNDS, does not make you qualified. Also, he has to be nice while campaigning, duh! I wish Paula Goodhart had not dropped out of this race. She was the best candidate FOR THIS COURT, unfortunatley not 1. Don't worry, I will not vote for J. Law. This race really upsets me! Who's on the Democratic ticket?