Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Brad Hart and the 248th Appointment

As I noted in my election recap last Wednesday, one of the worst kept secrets in the CJC at the moment is that Judge Joan Campbell is planning on retiring from the 248th District Court bench no later than the end of the year. Obviously, her retirement from the Bench necessitates that Governor Perry appoint a replacement.

The field of candidates that the Governor will select from depends on who puts in to be considered.  As of this morning, I understand that Brad Hart and Robert Summerlin have publicly stated they are going to put in for the 248th.  An e-mail that Roger Bridgwater sent to his fellow judicial candidates seemed to indicate that he would be putting in for it (and if you read between the lines, Roger seems to think he'll be getting the appointment easily).

Others may put in for it, as well; however, the three Republican candidates who ran in the 2012 election are probably the most prime candidates.  If I hear of others putting in their names, I'll let you know.

Of the three potential candidates now, here are my thoughts:

Roger Bridgwater
Bridgwater is the former Judge of the 178th District Court, where he was appointed by Governor Perry prior to the 2008 election.  As we all know, the 2008 election did not go well for him, and he lost his bench to Judge David Mendoza that November.

As a close personal friend of Pat Lykos, Bridgwater was hired as a Bureau Chief at the District Attorney's Office, where he proceeded to heavily damage his reputation with those who had known him previously.  He was notorious as the architect of the controversial (and not-so-legal) DIVERT program, and he alienated his co-workers with an ill-advised confrontation with highly-respected Bureau Chief Donna Goode.

ANALYSIS:  If part of the Republican mantra is that we don't like Judges who legislate from the Bench, then Bridgwater has got a lot of explaining to do about his DIVERT program.  Although the program was popular with members of the Defense Bar, it basically gave first time DWI offenders a chance for a "do over."  That can't sit well with Governor Perry, who is going to want a candidate that follows Republican ideals and hasn't done anything that has ticked off Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Additionally, his inexcusable attack on Donna Goode showed a lack of judicial temperament that should leave all attorneys hiding under their desks.  He abused his power in accusing her of insubordination and he did everything in his power to ruin her distinguished career at the Harris County District Attorney's Office.  Fortunately, Donna landed in a better place as First Assistant in Galveston County.

Also, I'm sure Governor Perry noticed that Bridgwater lost his election by 25,623 votes in 2012.  I believe that is the largest margin of defeat by any of the Republican Judicial candidates.

Roger Bridgwater doesn't appear to be electable -- and with good reason.

Robert Summerlin
Summerlin is a former prosecutor who started at the D.A.'s Office when I did.  As I've mentioned before we were once pretty good friends.  He left the Office shortly after becoming a Felony Two and went into private practice for a few civil firms.  He reappeared in the criminal realm a couple of years ago (as a defense attorney) and then almost immediately announced his candidacy for judge.  He has close ties to Jared Woodfill who unsuccessfully pushed forward Summerlin's candidacy. He lost to incumbent Ruben Guerrero by 8,919 votes.

ANALYSIS:  Summerlin can correctly point out that of the three candidates listed here, he had the most votes in the General Election.  However, that isn't saying much when you take into account the fact that his opponent wasn't all that popular to begin with.  If you couple that with the fact that all of the Jared Woodfill/Gary Polland-supported candidates faired extremely poorly in the criminal races, Summerlin's political influence tends to diminish.  From a practical standpoint, Summerlin never tried any serious cases as a prosecutor nor as a defense attorney that would give him the experience to be a Criminal District Court Judge. His recent return to the Criminal Law realm seems like a disingenuous attempt to merely gain some minor credentials before becoming a judge. Additionally, his demeanor as a prosecutor did not go over well with many of his female peers, who greatly question his potential judicial temperament.

Brad Hart
Brad Hart is a Felony District Court Chief prosecutor who is currently assigned to the elite Special Crimes Bureau of the District Attorney's Office.  Many moons ago, he actually served as one of my (and Robert Summerlin's) first supervising chiefs.  He has the well earned reputation of a prosecutor with the highest integrity and intelligence.  He was supported by not just prosecutors, but defense attorneys as well during his run for the 339th District Court.  He is known for his calm demeanor, open and fair-mindedness, and solid judgment by everyone he deals with.  He is a loyal member of the Republican Party who worked hard to do everything he could for the party during the 2012 races.

ANALYSIS:  Hart's loss to incumbent Judge Maria Jackson was devastating to his friends, family and supporters who knew what an outstanding judge he would make.  It was also stunning.  His hard work and devotion to his campaign had helped so many other Republican candidates who were running alongside him.  Unfortunately, Judge Jackson's groundswell of support from her days as a Municipal Court judge in Houston brought an unanticipated result in the General Election.  None of that reflects poorly on Hart.

While Bridgwater and Summerlin bring a significant amount of baggage to the table, Hart has nothing short of a sterling reputation.  Based on qualifications alone, he should be the clear choice for the appointment.  Additionally, he is an active and tireless campaigner who would work hard to make the Republican Party better in every way possible.

Brad Hart is the best choice for the appointment.  He needs to be a Judge.  The Criminal Justice System needs him to be a Judge.

If you would like to have your voice heard on the appointment process, take a few minutes out of your day and write an actual letter referencing the 248th District Court Judge Appointment.  You can send it to:

Governor Rick Perry
Appointments Staff
1100 San Jacinto
Austin, Texas 78701


Anonymous said...

Roger is definitely running. He made it clear at a meeting tonight.

Anonymous said...

Roger was a fine judge. He has excellent judicial temperament, and was respectful of all who came before him, unlike many on the bench. And amazingly enough, he actually has been a Judge! His experience dwarfs that of Robert and Brad. Everyone knows you dislike Lykos and everyone who works for her, but come on!

Anonymous said...

Murray stated that Robert didn't get along with females. Why, you might ask? Because he had a collective nickname he called his female peers: "the c*nts."

At least one higher up was aware that he called his female peers that and did nothing. Robert also verbally abused people he supervised. By the way, the verbal abuse he gave to one prosecutor he supervised had defense attorneys and the judge calling the DA's office to report it!

Can you imagine how bad it was for that to happen?!

When he eventually made it up to a felony two position, many of his peers were outraged because he should've been fired for the things he did, not promoted. And it wasn't just women. He did everything he could to ruin one male subordinate's career and his efforts resulted in the guy getting fired. He also went around the office falsely calling peers "trial dodgers."

Robert had a plan while at the office: (1) kiss up to everyone above him; 2) damage the reputations of everyone on his level; and 3) treat everyone below him like dirt. When Robert lost the election, I was satisfied. That man doesn't deserve to EVER be a judge. I hope that Perry knows what a nightmare it would be to appoint Robert to the bench!

Murray Newman said...

No, Anon 11:28 p.m., he wasn't. He was appointed to a bench where he served for two years without distinction and then promptly lost his bench. He has never won an election.

His behavior off the bench has been that of a power-hungry misogynist and I don't understand why you would be so eager to return him to the Bench.

It is true that I am no fan of Pat Lykos, but at least she was what she was and didn't try to hide it. Roger (like Leitner) used to have my respect. He's spent the past four years showing us all that he didn't deserve that respect.

Anonymous said...

How about you also ask Perry that we also stop electing judges on a partisan ticket. So people stop voting for them in straight-tickets.

Anonymous said...

Your only hope is the electability angle. Perry is famous for ignoring what people ask him to do in exchange for political favors. But lately he does seem genuinely interested in keeping the party going, which means a judge's future electability will be important. In Houston, if the 248th is a mid-term election, that won't be such a big deal. Republicans stand a good chance of winning those no matter how bad they are. If it's up for election during the presidential election, not so much (because some truly awful Democrats just won for the same reason). And Texas is going to go blue in a few years, so in the long run nothing may matter.

In the end, Perry does what Perry does. It has more to do with politics than common sense, so you may get to see Bridgewater in a robe again after all.


Anonymous said...

Well said Murray. Additionally, Roger was out of the HCDA Office more than he was in and when he was there, he wasn't doing office business very often.

I'll be writing two letters to the Appointment Staff. One highly recommending Brad and a second urging Gov. Perry not to appoint Roger to ANY bench ever. What a Loser.

Anonymous said...

How about you also ask Perry that we also stop electing judges on a partisan ticket. So people stop voting for them in straight-tickets.

Republicans will only like this idea once they stop being the majority in the state.

It's fine for small-ball politics like city councils, but not where their brand of politics wins state-wide.


Anonymous said...

Rage, a bill has been filed to take judges off the straight ticket. That's a step.

Anonymous said...

9:49, that bill gets filed every session. It's the same step.


Anonymous said...

How would one contact the appointment staff that was mentioned in a post? Perhaps a few civilians should petition the good governer to appoint Brad.

Bridgewater treated the staff of the HCAO like crap and should not be appointed anywhere for anything.

He appears to have no respect for anyone other than those that can help him. I sure don't want to see him on the bench in any court.

A concerned citizen

Anonymous said...

Rage, contrary to the popular belief of one, you really do not know everything. The Bill 9:49 is referring to has never been filed before. Maybe you should do a little research before you let your ass overload your mouth.9

Anonymous said...

"Unfortunately, Judge Jackson's groundswell of support from her days as a Municipal Court judge in Houston brought an unanticipated result in the General Election. None of that reflects poorly on Hart."
Point of order, isn't that what elections are all about? Just sayin.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 11:28

Hey Joni.

Jackie Carpenter said...

Sometimes anecdotal stories speak volumes, so here goes: I had a case as a private attorney (and, lest it need be said, I speak for myself and not my employer), where the client was dead to rights. I just knew he was going to prison, which was sad to me because his mother was in her 80s and really depended on her son's help. While cleaning out some junk, client helped mom go through dead husband's things. They found a gun, which mom sent son to pawn. It hit as stolen from thirty years prior. Client was on video pawning the weapon and presented his own identification, nevermind the fact that he was on both probation and parole. Dead to rights. I had information that I thought was compelling, but understood the case from a factual standpoint. I asked Brad to just listen, afterwards, I would respect his decision. I never said what I thought was right, instead, I merely presented the information, pictures, and letters that the mom had collected. Brad exuded fairness in a result that I would not have have even thought to ask. When I happily informed the client, he said that God had already told him. Brad didn't blink an eye when it came to listening, and doing the right thing.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:48 and others, send a letter of support directly to the Governor's judicial appointments director:

Mr. Darrell Davila
P.O. Box 12428
Austin, Texas 78711

Darrell was an ADA in Tarrant County for 10+ years before he took the position in the Governor's appointments office.

Anonymous said...

Word has it that Lana Shadwick has applied for appointment to the 248th.

Anonymous said...

No, I spoke with Lana. She isn't putting in for a bench.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:04, when did you speak with her? The word today was that she put in for the bench and was acting like it was a done deal that she would get it. I did not see that but told that from someone credible who did. Have also heard that Bridgwater and Summerlin have definately put in and are acting like they have it in the bag because of their connections.

Anonymous said...

It is definitely true that Bridgwater and Summerlin have applied for an appointment.