Texpatriate’s Questions for Bert Richardson

Editorial note: This is the fourteenth in our series of electronic interviews with candidates in contested primaries at both the Statewide level and throughout Harris County. We have sent eight open-ended questions to each of the candidates. The following are verbatim copies of the questions sent out and the answers received.

Bert Richardson, candidate in the Republican primary for the Court of Criminal Appeals, place 3

Texpatriate: What is your name?
BR: Bert Richardson

T: What office are you running for?
BR: Place 3 Texas Court of Criminal Appeals

T: What is your profession/occupation?
BR: Senior Judge, Adjunct Law Professor St. Mary’s University Law

T: In just a few words, what does the office you are running for do and what are its responsibilities?
BR: It is the State’s high criminal court for all criminal cases.  It has 3 important duties: 1. Review all death penalty cases; 2. At its discretion, review cases ruled upon by other intermediate appellate courts and issue opinions on those lower court rulings; 3. It has the sole power at the State level to set aside wrongful convictions after hearings are conducted at the trial court (granting writs).

T: If you are running against an incumbent (primary or general), do you think the incumbent has failed? If so, why specifically?
BR: The incumbent is retiring.

T: What would be your three biggest priorities if elected?
BR: First, The TCCA promulgates rules of evidence for criminal trials .  Because of significant changes in scientific evidence (DNA) in many areas that have exonerated several wrongfully convicted defendants, those rules should address the changes and the admissibility of such evidence.  Second, the State and defense should be able to file briefs and records to that court online (e-filing).  Most appellate courts across the State have implemented this and I would work to do that at the TCCA.  Third, the TCCA administers funds that educate judges.   Judges should be educated on legislative changes in discovery rules and the obligation the State has to turn over evidence in light of the Michael Morton Act and exoneration. 

T: What distinguishes you from your opponent(s)? Why should people specifically vote for you?
BR: As an elected judge and Senior Judge over the last 14 years I have worked in 40+ counties across the State and handled almost every type of case the TCCA reviews.  Some of these cases have required significant writing and recommendations to the TCCA on how those cases should be resolved.

I believe I am the only candidate for this position that has a combination of significant death penalty and appellate experience as a practicing lawyer and judge and that is Board Certified in Criminal Law (less than 2% of lawyers are certified in this area).

I have taught law related classes at the local colleges and law school since the mid 90’s. I have the tried and presided over the types of cases the TCCA handles for most of my career.  In addition to my extensive trial experience as a State and Federal prosecutor, I have written over 50+ briefs in the State and federal systems.  As an elected judge in Bexar County I was consistently ranked at the top of local Bar Polls for knowledge of the law, work ethic and judicial demeanor.  As a Senior Judge I receive a steady stream of judicial assignments for routine matters (both civil and criminal) and I have been assigned several high profile cases across the State both at the trial level and post conviction level including 5 death penalty cases.  I have never had a trial verdict reversed by an appellate court. I have taught at the local colleges and law school for over 15 years and consistently receive high marks on all of my student evaluations.

T: What is the most important thing you have learned thus far in the campaign?
BR: That Texas is a big State and difficult to cover! It is difficult to raise funds for this race and most of that goes to travel expenses for campaigning.   Very few people are aware this court exists and even fewer understand what duties the judges have in what is one of two high courts in this State.  

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Algebra II nixed

The Texas Tribune reports that the State Board of Education, following often contentious hearings and discussions on the subject, has given final approval to a new set of graduation requirements for High School students that removes the math class Algebra II. In fact, the 15-member board (which is comprised of 5 Democrats and 10 Republicans) passed the policy with all but one vote in favor.

However, as the San Antonio Express-News notes, the board also had previously introduced two alternatives to Algebra II that could be taken in lieu of that class for some sort of credit in advanced mathematics. Statistics and Algebraic Reasoning were the new courses selected to be tentative replacements. From what I recall, my high school offered both of those courses, but its enrollment was only open to those who had successfully completed Algebra II (I took Statistics my senior year, over the great objection of my school, following a hard year of Pre-Calculus the previous year). As I have been saying for nearly a year, and will continue to do so today, relaxing standards to receive a High School diploma is a terrible idea and and even worse solution for graduation deficiencies. Rather than admit we need to revamp our education system, the Legislature is moving the goalposts closer. But I digress.

Click here to read more!

Texpatriate’s Questions for Jani Jo Wood

Editorial note: This is the thirteenth in our series of electronic interviews with candidates in contested primaries at both the Statewide level and throughout Harris County. We have sent eight open-ended questions to each of the candidates. The following are verbatim copies of the questions sent out and the answers received.

Jani Jo Wood, candidate in the Republican primary for the Court of Criminal Appeals, place 4

Texpatriate: What is your name?
JW: Jani Jo Wood

Click here to read the full interview!

Alameel, Van de Putte, etc

First, some quick catchup. As many will note, the Democratic primary for the US Senate has been heated recently ever since Wendy Davis endorsed David Alameel, a rather obscure candidate hitherto. This prompted some blowback from the other candidates –namely Maxey Scherr– over Almeel’s giving history to prominent Republicans, including the incumbent John Cornyn himself.

Accordingly, as The Texas Tribune reports, Alameel recently made a somewhat bizarre and quixotic request for a “refund” from these Republicans, including Cornyn. When asked by the Tribune to expand upon this idea, Alameel reportedly discussed his previous belief in the ideal of bipartisanship, allegedly justifying his expansive donations to both Democrats and Republicans. However, attributing the encroaching extremism in the modern day Republican Party, Alameel made it clear that he wished to dissolve his fiscal bands with the GOP.

In an obvious example of tongue-in-cheek humor, Cornyn responded to the unreasonable request. As The Dallas Morning News reports, Cornyn responded by noting just how indispensable his financial contribution was, invaluable for implementing his conservative agenda. Additionally, Cornyn made a point of referencing his steadfast conservatism over the years, including those in which Alameel was a contributor. Specifically, Cornyn twice referenced his impeccable credentials as a pro-life candidate, an obvious jab to Alameel, who now has faced criticisms from his left over the issue.

Click here to read the letter, plus a major development that occurred today!

Texpatriate’s Questions for Ken Cope

Editorial note: This is the twelfth in our series of electronic interviews with candidates in contested primaries at both the Statewide level and throughout Harris County. We have sent eight open-ended questions to each of the candidates. The following are verbatim copies of the questions sent out and the answers received.

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Ken Cope, candidate in the Republican primary for the US Senate

Texpatriate: What is your name?
KC: Ken Cope

Click here to read the full interview!

Texpatriate’s Questions for Wendy McPherson Berry

Editorial note: This is the eleventh in our series of electronic interviews with candidates in contested primaries at both the Statewide level and throughout Harris County. We have sent eight open-ended questions to each of the candidates. The following are verbatim copies of the questions sent out and the answers received.

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Wendy McPherson Berry, candidate for Harris County Republican Party chairperson

Click here to read her response!