Unquestionably the most heated primary race this Spring is the Republican Primary in County Court at Law # 13 to replace Judge Mark Atkinson, who is not running for re-election. Before the field was even finalized, there was mass confusion as Felony Division Chief Denise Bradley (who was originally in the CCL # 13 race) switched to the 262nd race, leaving controversial Deputy Misdemeanor Chief Rachel Palmer seemingly unopposed in the primary.
That changed on December 23rd, when Division Chief Don Smyth announced his candidacy. Don's decision to run was a principled and gutsy call considering the fact that Palmer had about a year headstart on him in campaigning. Nevertheless, Don and his supporters were able to raise over 700 signatures in slightly over a week (when only 250 were required) and Don is now at the top of the ballot.
The differences between the two candidates could not be more pronounced.
Rachel has been practicing law less than 7 years. Don has been doing criminal law for over 32.
Rachel hasn't risen to the level of Felony Chief in the Office, although she claims (in an extremely misleading manner) to be the Deputy Chief of the Office. Don is a Division Chief and Former Bureau Chief.
Don has tried every type of case that the District Attorney's Office has handled, while Rachel seems to be cooling her heels as a Lykos loyalist in Misdemeanor.
Don is loved by the prosecutors working under him, while Rachel's misdemeanor prosecutors have complained about feeling pressured to support her when they have found her campaign literature placed on their desks. Don is also known for backing up his people when they need it, while Palmer is more known for her willingness to tattle to Lykos.
Rachel's knowledge of the law has been questionable as her judgment during her history with the Office. During an Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child case, she caused a mistrial by asking the police officer whether or not the defendant had refused to take a polygraph exam -- a very basic question that even a regular viewer of Law and Order would recognize as inadmissible. Because the mistrial had been based on the prosecution's question, the Defense argued the case was barred from retrial due to prosecutorial misconduct. Fortunately, the Court ultimately ruled against prosecutorial misconduct and the case was allowed to proceed. Prosecutor Brent Mayr ultimately retried it and the Defendant went to prison. (NOTE: For more information, check out State of Texas v. Daniel Lee Sandifer.)
In addition, Rachel's attitude both in and away from the Office has been very off-putting for many. She is clearly a Lykos Insider who enjoys her position of power, but word of her exerting her influence as Deputy Dawg of Misdemeanor and a prosecutor, in general, are concerning. She is known as a bully to those people that aren't in HER inner circle.
Don, on the other hand, has never been accused of playing favorites. He is, quite literally, a Boy Scout -- having been active in the Organization since 1986 as a Scout Master and Scout Master Emeritus. He served for years and years as the Division Chief of the Civil Rights Division before becoming the Bureau Chief of the Governmental Affairs Bureau (which encompassed the Civil Rights and Public Integrity Divisions). He had to take the unpopular job of being the prosecutor that investigated police officers accused of wrong-doing. It may not have made him entirely popular with some police officers, but it takes a man of high integrity to hold the position for as long as he did.
He held the position of Bureau Chief until the Lykos Circus came to town and demoted him to Division Chief (because apparently in a Lykos world, they need more Rachel Palmers and less Don Smyths -- go figure.)
Don is unquestionably more qualified and would be the better judge, but he has an uphill battle due to Rachel's head start. She has the support of wealthy benefactor Carolyn Farb (has she ever even been to the CJC?) and Pat Lykos. Don's campaign is more of a Grassroots Movement from people who know the difference between a good candidate and a bad one. He needs all the help he can to win this campaign.
That being said, there is a Fundraiser for Don Smyth tomorrow (Wednesday, February 3rd) from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Armadillo Palace on Kirby in the Rice Village Area.
For those of us interested in good government, it's a "Can't Miss" Event.
Don Smyth is far and away the best candidate in this race.