Endorsements: Criminal District Courts

I continue my endorsements:

174th District Court
I endorse the incumbent, Democrat Ruben Guerrero. Judge Guerrero is one of the most respectable Judges I know, filled with a level of integrity almost unheard of today. I spent some weeks last year interning at the Courthouse (not with Guerrero, or for that matter anyone running for re-election this year), and the Judge and DAs I was working under, all right-wing Republicans, had nothing but kind words to say about Guerrero and his abilities as an adjudicator of the law. I am ashamed that the Chronicle endorsed his competitor.

176th District Court
I join the Chronicle in endorsing the incumbent, Democrat Shawna Reagin. Her court is renowned for having a small docket load, sounds like a fiscal conservative to me.

177th District Court
I break with the Chronicle to endorse the competitor, Democrat Vivian King. I have not been all that impressed by Judge Patrick, but this is not an especially strong endorsement.

178th District Court
I join the Chronicle in endorsing the incumbent, Democrat David Mendoza. Judge Mendoza is one of the few Democratic Judges in our county who holds a plethora of Judicial experience, and he has been committed to undergoing a thoroughly just program on rehabilitating youthful offenders.

179th District Court
I join the Chronicle in endorsing the incumbent, Democrat Randy Roll. The Chronicle’s endorsement mentions Judge Roll’s long hours put in to reduce his caseload, but what I find most appealing is his ability to speak fluent Spanish.

337th District Court
I break with the Chronicle to endorse the incumbent, Democrat Herb Ritchie. Judge Ritchie has done an adequate job in office, but I am somewhat distressed with his competitor, a former aDA who prides herself upon being quite “law and order”. I have always held the belief that our justice system is built upon the defense of the accused, not vengeance for the victim. Accordingly, I try to rarely vote for someone whose platform involves pre-emptively throwing the book.

338th District Court
In this very weak recommendation, I join the Chronicle in endorsing the Republican, Brock Thomas. Thomas, the Judge in this capacity until 2008, is alleged by the Chronicle to have started the “drug court”, which has done wonders in nipping one-term offenses and preventing someone busted on a few ounces of pot or DWI from becoming a hardened criminal.

339th District Court
I join the Chronicle in endorsing the incumbent, Democrat Maria Jackson. Judge Jackson is yet another Democratic judge with experience, such an invaluable asset today in the courtroom.

351st District Court
I join the Chronicle in endorsing the incumbent, Republican Mark Ellis. Judge Ellis, surviving the 2008 sweep, has made an effort to move to the centre, and for that should be rewarded with another term.

Hughes vs Straus

Once upon a time, when I was young and brash, I got into a pretty big fight over Joe Straus. Some of my old friends from Hebrew School and I compiled a list of the “Horrible, awful stains on Judaism” in the United States. Rounding out the top of our list were Senator Lieberman, Congressman Cantor, and most notably, Speaker Joe Straus. This was still back when the Democrats held 74 seats in the State House, and my foolish suggestion was that the State GOP replace Straus. Boy, I was wrong.

In the last legislative session, Straus was the Democrat’s only friend in preventing some of the most extreme legislation of all, like an Arizona-style immigration act and a bill to, from what I could gather, would neuter Airport Security.

Straus was going to be deposed last year, but when the Media got a hold of the fact it was because the GOP wanted a “Christian Conservative”, the challenge was dead on arrival. However, now it seems that the movement is once again in full swing, with Bryan Hughes of Mineola (yeah I didnt know where that was either) challenging him for the gavel.

For what it is worth, I do not think this is about anti-Semitism, I think it is about the extremists in the TX GOP who disavow critical thinking wanting to place one of their own in power. Dewhurst was too liberal, so they got Cruz. Now it seems Straus is too liberal. It seems that Speaker Straus no longer fits in with his party.

Here’s my solution: Democrats should swallow their pride and vote for Straus as speaker. I think the Dems could get 55-65 seats in November, which would mean convincing, at minimum, only 10 Republicans. Another coalition could work. We could call it “Texans united for Critical Thinking”.

If you want the real news, The San Antonio Express-News has more.

Jones to step down

I apologize for the lack of activity recently, a few things (Yom Kippur, a paper, etc) have kept me somewhat busy.

The Chronicle is reporting that Chief Justice Edith Jones of the 5th Circuit will be leaving her position as Chief, though remaining on the court. She will be replaced by Justice Carl Stewart, a Clinton nominee.

In the light of some of the 5th Circuit’s recent opinions, I hope that the new Chief Justice will not be a Co-Magnon and not a rubber stamp for the GOP. Maybe it is the newfound Bostonite in me, but I am cautiously opportunistic.

The way E goes

Dave Martin is one lucky son-of-a-gun. Faced with what would be a shoe-in for a normal municipal election, he faced a real issue when it came to Sullivan’s integrity and frugality. Sullivan, the presumptive Tax Collector-elect, decided to give far advanced notice of his retirement, prompting a special election concurrent with the general in November. But there is a problem. Turnout is quite low in municipal elections, but the upside is there are not very many uninformed voters. A Presidential election may quadruple turnout, or more, for this City Council special election.

This brings the challenge of a lot of uninformed voters who only vote every other year (or every four). However, there is a saving grace for the frontrunner, Mr. Martin, his name is first on the ballot. Study after study has shown that if your name is first, it provides a tremendous advantage to uniformed voters simply trying to pick a candidate at random. However, I find that there could be chance that Martin is dragged into a runoff, and this is where it looks up for him.

Even if Martin comes in second place, with (I’m guessing Perez) having a mere plurality, a runoff would almost surely be won by him. Even in a Presidential election, the December runoff would not have more than about 10-15% turnout. This would again limit to the informed voters, who seem to be backing Martin with unparalleled numbers. Now, before some of the other candidates comment on here disputing my reasoning, the way I come to the decision that Martin is the front-runner is his support from Sullivan and the GOP establishment.

They’re out!

The Chronicle is reporting that Harris County has begun mailing absentee ballots. They noted that first priority are military and overseas, but then out-of-state voters (that’s me). Additionally, the sample ballot is up, which is far more convenient that trying to analyze and contrast the different primary election results.

I had known this since the filling deadline earlier this year, but among some of the people not drawing a Democratic opponent are Joan Huffman, Justices on the Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals, and Justices on the 1st and 14th Court of Appeals. That is absolutely disgusting, and is the reason I did not clap my hands a single time during Boyd Richie’s farewell speech at the State Convention. Democrats sure as hell are not going to win when we fill less positions than the Green Party on the ballot. I forgot to mention that, in those (more than a few) races where the sorry Democrats didn’t field a candidate, I will be voting Green or writing in “Tilly” (my yellow dog). This is one of the things I have a lot of hope in Chairman Hinojosa for, ending this “lazy-Austinite” mentality of the State Party and begin fighting where we have a fighting chance, starting with Houston and San Antonio.

In re Texans

A break from politics for a moment.

Every sunday, I have developed a somewhat similar routine. I roll out of bed a little before 10 AM, groggy over the minuscule amount of sleep I had compiled the night before, get ready for the day, throw on my Texans jersey, and catch the bus to my brother’s house to watch the game.

I have noticed as the weeks go on, and as the Texans keep winning, more and more people are commenting or looking at my Texans jersey. I predict that once we trounce the Titans next week, my clothing will be a real eye opener if Houston is truly the #1 team in the NFL.

I’m hoping for a Superbowl appearance…but let’s focus on the Titans for now…oh yeah, and the election.

Endorsements: Civil District courts

I am surprised how well my recommendations line up with the Chronicle. Without further wait:

11th: I endorse the incumbent, Democrat Mike Miller. As the Chronicle noted, Miller goes out of his way to treat those who go before his bench with “courtesy and respect”.

61st: I endorse the incumbent, Democrat Al Bennett.

80th: I endorse the incumbent, Democrat Larry Weiman. My father plays softball with Judge Weiman, and I have always noted his respectful demeanor towards the law.

125th: I break with the Chronicle to endorse the incumbent, Democrat Kyle Carter. Judge Carter seems to represent the new generation of progressives in our legal system, and I would find it a travesty of common sense to regress back to more of the old guard.

127th: I endorse the incumbent, Democrat R.K. Sandhill.

129th: I  break with the Chronicle to endorse the incumbent, Michael Gomez. Judge Gomez, like Judge Carter, is simply too valuable of a new breed of jurists to give up on.

133rd: I endorse the incumbent, Democrat Jaclanel McFarland. Good Democrat for a good seat.

151st: I endorse the incumbent, Democrat Mike Engelhart. Also a softball compadre of my dad, the amount I have interacted with Judge Engelhart, he seems to bring a sense for rightness and justice to the bench that Republican judges have been bankrupt in.

152nd: I endorse the incumbent, Robert Schaffer. As the Chronicle pointed out, Judge Schaffer commands huge respect from the attorneys in his courtroom.

164th: I endorse the incumbent, Democrat Alexandra Smoots-Hogan.

165th: I break with the Chronicle to endorse the incumbent, Democrat Josephina Rendon. Judge Rendon has done just as good of a job as her contemporaries in fulfilling an honorable term of office. The Chronicle, however, breaks to endorse the old, Republican incumbent who had held office until 2008. Judge Ray was part of the problem, and I do not want to go back.

215th: I endorse my first Republican of the year, Ken Shortreed. This is more of protest vote than anything else, I hold very little respect for Elaine Palmer after the way her campaign treated Judge Kirkland. She didn’t just break the 11th commandment, she DESTROYED it. Since it would be somewhat disrespectful to write-in my yellow dog, I will be voting for Shortreed.

333rd: I endorse the incumbent, Republican Tad Halbach. Judge Halbach seems to have a reputation to lawyers in Houston of being somewhat fair and judicious and his Democratic opponent doesn’t even seem to have a webpage.

334th: I break with the Chronicle to endorse Democrat Donna Roth. Incumbent Ken Wise always seems to be advocating extremist, tea party statements on his facebook page, which I really have no tolerance for. Donna Roth isn’t a newcomer to political campaigns.