Editorial note: This is the twenty-second 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.
David Newell, candidate in the Republican primary for Court of Criminal Appeals Place 9
Texpatriate: What is your name?
DN: David Newell
T: What office are you running for?
DN: Judge on the Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 9
T: What is your profession/occupation?
DN: Appellate attorney
T: In just a few words, what does the office you are running for do and what are its responsibilities?
DN: The Court of Criminal Appeals is the court of last resort for criminal cases. The Court decides criminal appeals and post-conviction writs of habeas corpus, and is required to address issues related to criminal proceedings. It has exclusive jurisdiction over death penalty appeals and writs. It also promulgates rules related to criminal appellate procedure and evidence. Finally, it has a small fund devoted to the promotion of education of practitioners and judges regarding criminal law.
T: If you are running against an incumbent (primary or general), do you think the incumbent has failed? If so, why specifically?
DN: This is an open spot, as Judge Cathy Cochran is retiring. She has been a unique voice for the Court due to her previous scholarship of the Court and her strong writing background. I believe I am best-suited to carry on in her tradition.
T: What would be your three biggest priorities if elected?
DN: I would maintain a position of judicial modesty and restraint, avoid any appearance of bias, and write reasonable opinions that garner support from a durable majority of the court.
T: What distinguishes you from your opponent(s)? Why should people specifically vote for you?
DN: I believe my extensive experience with criminal appeals and the depth and breadth of my understanding of the Court’s precedent sets me apart. I have sixteen years focused upon criminal appeals with ten years from a smaller jurisdiction and six from one of the largest in Texas. Unlike my opponent, I have experience with death penalty appeals and writs, and I am very familiar with the law surrounding those types of cases. I am also Board Certified in Criminal Law and Criminal Appellate Law. I believe I have the specialized knowledge and expertise that is needed to do the job at the Court on day one.
T: What is the most important thing you have learned thus far in the campaign?
DN: I am very lucky to be married to my wife and have such an incredibly supportive family.