Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Ever Changing Election Field

As I mentioned with this post back in February, the 2012 Election Season has begun preposterously early this time around, with most of the activity focusing on which Republicans are going to be vying to retake the criminal court benches lost to Democrats in 2008.  Here we are five months later and the field has already changed significantly from back in February.

I thought you all might like an up-to-date guide on how things look right now:

The 174th District Court
This race has become contested since we last checked in.  Felony District Court Chief Joe Vinas has moved from the race for the 338th District Court (see below for more details on that) to face off against former-prosecutor and local attorney Robert Summerlin.  The winner will face off against Ruben Guerrero on the Democratic side.

The 176th District Court
Last we looked here, no one had thrown their name in to be the Republican challenger to Incumbent Judge Shawna Reagin.  Since then, former prosecutor and criminal defense attorney Stacey Webb Bond has announced that she will be running as a Republican.

The 177th District Court
There have been no official changes to this race thus far, as Republican Ryan Patrick will be running for the spot against Incumbent Judge Kevin Fine.  There have been some rumors that Judge Fine may draw an opponent in his own primary.  I'll keep you posted on this one.

The 178th District Court
I'm not sure if Roger Bridgwater has made it official that he will be attempting to retake his bench from Incumbent Judge David Mendoza.  The word on the street is that Patricia R. Lykos is not too happy about the idea of Roger running because it conveys the idea that people are "jumping ship" from the Office.  Um, yeah, Pat, half your damn Trial Bureau leaves and you don't bat an eye, but when the guy who sits in his office and does nothing all day wants to be a judge, then you get worried?

The 179th District Court
This is still facially the same race, as Republican Kristin Guiney is the only listed challenger right now against Incumbent Judge Randy Roll.  However, there are rumors that Lana Shadwick is going to run as a Republican.  Shadwick is apparently hoping her ex-husband's name will bring her a judgeship, and her flaky history and resume of bouncing from job to job and position to position within the D.A.'s Office has fellow-blogger Mark Bennett declaring this to be "Christmas in July".

The 337th District Court
This one has been a change, as it doesn't appear that prosecutor Alexis Gilbert is running for the position any longer.  However, long-time prosecutor and Chief Renee Magee is now officially running against Democratic candidate and Incumbent Judge Herb Ritchie.

The 338th District Court
A change here as well as former-prosecutor, former-judge, and current defense attorney Brock Thomas has announced he will be running against Hazel Jones to retake his bench after the 2008 elections.  Joe Vinas had been slated to run for this bench against Judge Jones, but deferred to Brock and switched to the 174th race.  I'm glad to see Brock running again.

The 339th District Court
This race remains unchanged, as well.  Special Crimes Chief Brad Hart is still the only candidate currently listed to be running against Incumbent Judge Maria Jackson.

The 351st District Court
As I mentioned in the last post, I can't imagine Incumbent Judge Mark Ellis drawing a Republican challenger in the primary, and I haven't heard of any Democratic candidates signing up to run against him either.

I'll keep you posted as things develop . . .

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Summerlin was a flake as a paralegal at V&E, and continued with his flakiness in the DA's office. I don't know that he's tried a criminal case in years.

Anonymous said...

Is this the same Lana Shadwick who had the lowest rating of all 9 Associate Family Judges? And is now trying to become a criminal judge??? Please say no.

Anonymous said...

HBA poll
http://www.chron.com/CDA/archives/archive.mpl/2001_3319537/13-of-lawyers-in-bar-rated-judges.html

Anonymous said...

Just being factual. Re: Robert Summerlin - though his name does not appear anywhere on the firm's WEB Site: The State Bar has him employed by the Harris County Republican Chair's Law Firm " Jared Woodfill:

Mr. Robert Earl Summerlin
Woodfill & Pressler, LLP
Address:
4 Houston Center
1221 Lamar, Suite 510
Houston, TX 77010
Phone: 713-751-3080
Bar Card Number: 45006540

Anonymous said...

Hart, Guiney, Magee, Bond - all solid candidates. Joe could be a good judge, I'm just a bit curious about whether he could use a bit more experience (although he is infinitely more qualified than many current judges).

Bridgwater is a self riteous jerk at the DA's office, but he's certainly better than the current judge in the 178.

Anonymous said...

Stop the presses! Bill Hawkins quits the Harris County DA's office!

Anonymous said...

What does Lykos do all day long?

Anonymous said...

If Robert Summerlin becomes a judge in Harris County, I'll move to Sugar Land and commit all my felonies out there.

Anonymous said...

Joe Vinas only has about a year less experience as Guiney. Also, Joe has been a felony chief--and he earned it--for several years. In fact, Joe was one of the last chiefs to make chief off the old "chief's poll". In addition to being a career prosecutor--and he's tried just about every kind of case imaginable--Joe has been with the DAs Office since he was in college. In college, Joe worked as an intake secretary...he knows pleadings like nobody else. In law school, he worked there as an intern. And then after graduating from law school, he became an ADA. Joe is a heck of a trial lawyer. He's also a great teacher...probably one of the best at the office at teaching young prosecutors how to focus on not only working hard and being prepared, but also how to focus on doing the right thing--doing justice. Joe is respected by prosecutors, judges, and the defense bar. I don't know anything about the other guy, but I know Joe would be a great judge.

Anonymous said...

Re: Anon: July 28, 2011 1:14 PM

? Is this a tepid way of indicating a certain candidate is really tough on crime and will scare all the really bad felons in Harris County to flee to another county? Not even talking about any particular person here....just the comment made is so...."Captain America" bull shit. At least the other commentators are sticking to specifics of qualifications or lack thereof. Is that you Robert? If so relax. Bottom line for everyone: You lose control of the election after the Primary. Out of your hands.

Anonymous said...

The republicans are about to fall into the same trap as the democrats if they elect some of these yahoos. I think its quite telling when both prosecutors and defense lawyers share the same nagative view of some.

Anonymous said...

I want to hear about Bill Hawkins, is there anyone good left in that division?

Anonymous said...

Hmm, interesting. What ever happened to the expression "you can't go home again?" While the current judge of the 338th is one of the worst in the CJC if you choose to believe (and I do) the most recent judicial evaluation poll, I was looking forward to some new blood on that bench. Too bad Vinas switched to the 174th. But I am certain he will be a better judge than the current one in that court.

Why don't the other Republican judges who were defeated in 2008 (and still around) run again for their former benches as well? I am sure they would win them back. But there is something to be said for moving on.

Anonymous said...

Answer to Anon.July 30, 2011 11:27 AM:

Why not come "home": No amount of money in the world could cause me to go through that sausage making process. Many of us were elected or appointed on our merits. Then - just like years past - (Poe & McSpadden almost didn't make it in the 80's due to the political tide turning) but no one remembers that.

Plus today the Internet, 24/7 news cycle, and top of the ticket especially - have much more effect on any election outcome. More power to Brock and no disrespect to the bunch running now on the R side. I DO think it's fair to say that lack of death penalty trial experience doesn't seem to matter anymore. For that matter - being an experienced prosecutor 10 plus years doesn't seem to matter as well. In any case, good luck to all who enter the ring D or R and remember - whether you win or lose the ELECTION - P or G. Should be no reflection on YOU as as a person. Politics has always and always will be dirty and the best trial lawyer man or woman doesn't always win. God Bless

PS: Having to deal with the local party alone in any "Joint Judicial Campaign" venture is reason enough to stay here in Bora Bora!

Anonymous said...

Regarding the current crop of R's running, at least they all have practiced in and tried cases in the criminal district courts. Except for Lana, I guess. In 2010, the D's ran some people who had little to no criminal law experience. In 2008, Maria Jackson was a muni judge who practiced probate law or something before that. Another parallel with Lana? Anyway, regading the number of years: Bond, Magee and Hart have been down there for well over 10 years each. Magee and Hart have death penalty experience. Guiney and Vinas have almost, if not right at, 10 years experience. All those have at least some Capital experience. Patrick is the least experienced of the bunch but he has tried every kind of case except maybe a Capital I bet. I think all the above have pretty good reputations for being good people who are fair and open minded. Not sure about the trial experience Summerlin has but at least was a district court prosecutor at some level before going to the civil world for several years. Overall, it looks like a good group of candidates. If the voters make the right calls in the contested primaries, the R's should have a strong slate of judicial candidates. That is more than can be said of the D's lately. Then, as we all know, it will be up to the straight ticket voters in the fall.

Anonymous said...

Many of us were elected or appointed on our merits.

Yeah, people who were appointed or elected all like to say that, but the truth us that in Harris County the party has always been what determined the winner, as a general rule. Republicans who had been there for years were protected because they had an (R) by their name, not because they were good.

The Democrats will lose this round because they had a (D) by their name, not because they were bad. And many of them are very, very bad. I'm praying for an (R) upset in the civil courthouse.

Rage

Anonymous said...

Kevin Fine NOT seeking reelection!

Anonymous said...

Judge Fine not running for reelection would be news to county democrats.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:31, Harris County Democrats should pull their head out. Fine told his staff he ain't running.