David Pasztor, Judicial Contests Mostly Low-Key, Austin American-Statesman, October 29, 2002.
Article reports that Harris County (Tex.) Democratic chairwoman Sue Schechter has said that “a group of Republican Harris County judges are violating a state judicial election law with a recent television ad.” In the commercial, a narrator asserts that “crime is falling because experienced Republican judges are tougher on repeat criminals. Republican judges are getting criminals off the streets and into jails and keeping them there.” Schechter argues that “their ad clearly tells of their position and how they will tend to rule,” in violation of a law prohibiting judicial candidates form making “pledges or promises” that would “suggest to a reasonable person that the judge is predisposed to a probable decision in the cases within the scope of the pledge.” Republican political consultant Alan Blakemore, the ad’s producer, said that Schechter was unhappy with the ad because “she hasn’t won a countywide race in year, and this year doesn’t appear like it will be any different.” John Williams, Judges’ Ad Breaks Law, Opponents Say, Houston Chronicle, October 31, 2002.
Article reports that “more and more state medical societies are getting involved in” state Supreme Court races. Tim Maglione, the Ohio State Medical Association’s senior director for government relations, said, “It’s important for physicians to know that courts are equally as important as the governor’s office or the legislative branch…. The court’s decisions have an effect not only on the practice of medicine, but property taxes we pay and other issues.” In recent years, “doctors in Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington have stepped up their efforts to promote judicial candidates,” often in response to the issue of tort reform. Troy Alexander, the director of TEXPAC, the Texas Medical Association’s political action committee, said that doctors “were getting killed in the courtrooms.” In Texas, “doctors hand out 1.5 million bright red ‘vote smart’ slate cards that contain the names of judges” endorsed by doctors. Tanya Albert, Reorder in the Court: Which Judges Will Serve Medicine Best?, American Medical News, November 4, 2002.
98. Column wonders: “Which should disturb devotees of an independent judiciary more - that Justice Mike Schneider raised $900,000 to run for the Texas Supreme Court, or that he may as well have gathered a mere $900 for all the difference it made?” Noting that “it took about a million dollars to ensure election to the state’s highest civil court this year,” the columnist argues that “those lawyers, business czars and PACs plunking down $1,000, $2,500 and $5,000 at a pop may have thought they were underwriting good government or - are we being cynical? - that they were ensuring themselves a measure of favor in the court.” However, “the numbers show that what mattered most was party affiliation, even more than money…. Despite the popular myth that Texans want to elect their judges, most folks just lost interest or rely on broad assumptions by the time they get to the