only 10 percent of cases appealed to them, the columnist asserts that the justices “are elected and should be accountable for their decisions.” Because Texas has a “money-riddled system of electing state judges,” increasing “openness on the high court [is] all the more important.” “Releasing all the justices’ votes may not clear the air of accusations and suspicions, but continued secrecy will only breed more distrust.” Clay Robison, Court’s Secrecy Is Hiding Accountability, Houston Chronicle, May 24, 2002.
Article reports on the early volleys in the Texas judicial elections. Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Phillips told Republican Convention delegates, “Judicial elections should be less expensive and less political so that no one can ever charge again that justice is for sale.” Democratic Party chief Molly Beth Malcolm called the state’s Republican-dominated courts “an embarrassment” and argued that Democratic judges would return “professionalism to the courts by administering justice fairly.” Presiding Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Sharon Keller rejected that claim, asserting that while Republican judges would administer the law fairly, Democratic judges have not always followed the law in their rulings, “and it’s a nightmare to deal with.” Colleen McCain Nelson, Justice Urges Low-Profile Races: Republicans Pitch Candidates for Courts Dominated by Party, Dallas Morning News, June 9, 2002.
Osler McCarthy, staff attorney for public information for the Supreme Court of Texas, defends the Court’s practice of not disclosing how individual justices vote when deciding whether or not to consider a case. A recently filed lawsuit seeks to “force [such] voting into the open, so that elected judges can be accountable to voters.” (See Court Pester, May 23.) Noting that only ten state supreme courts reveal votes on whether to review cases, McCarthy argues that “courts like mine and the U.S. Supreme Court” keep such votes private “for many reasons, not least of which is that such votes say nothing about the merits of the case, or that justices may decide one way or another on whether to take an appeal for many different reasons.” True accountability comes from examining the justices’ written opinions in the cases they accept for review. Osler McCarthy, No Secret: Texas Supreme Court Rulings Tell All, Houston Chronicle, June 12, 2002.
Column foresees “judicial candidates pandering on abortion and the environment” and seeking the aid of political consultants in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Republican Party v. White. The columnist calls for appointed judges in Texas, because “the prospect of judicial candidates basing rulings on focus group research takes me aback.” Arnold Garcia, Court Ruling Opening Volley in War of Judicial Rhetoric, Austin American-Statesman, June 30, 2002.
Article reports on reactions in Texas to the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision striking down a Minnesota canon restricting the speech of judicial candidates. The Texas Supreme Court will decide this week what steps are needed to bring the