have deteriorated into expensive, sleazy, mudslinging alley fights.” Henderson calls for limits on campaign contributions and a ban on soft money in judicial campaigns. Henderson opposes the adoption of an appointive system for state judges, saying, “I have observed a disease we call “judgitis” set in from time to time” among federal court judges, but does give support to a merit system like the Missouri Plan, whereby judges are first appointed then periodically voted up or down by voters. Richard Henderson, The Price Tag Needs to be Pulled from Texas Justice, Star-Telegram (Forth Worth, TX), May 6, 2000.
Column calls on Texas voters to “make a small difference this year by closely following the two contested races for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.” The column argues that making an informed decision in this election is especially important because of the court’s power over death penalty cases. The column states, “In recent years, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has been a prosecutor’s dream come true. Justices have reacted to the state’s law-and-order atmosphere by giving prosecutors all the breaks” in capital cases. The column argues that Texas would be best served by eliminating the partisan election of statewide judges, which would ensure that “judges [would be] less likely to bend in the wind” on controversial decisions. Bruce Davidson, Court Stands in Way of Justice, San Antonio Express-News, June 30, 2000.
Letters respond to a recent op-ed by Talmage Boston criticizing the influence of money in Texas judicial elections for the Texas Supreme Court (Court Pester, July 13). Cristen Feldman, of Texans for Public Justice, agrees with Boston . According to Feldman, each campaign costs $1.4 million “and lawyers with cases before the court tend to make contributions in the $5000 range. PACs serving as front organizations for corporations seeking to escape liability for their own negligence slip checks as large as $20,000 to the court.” He concludes that the donors enjoy an influence on judicial elections denied to most Texas. Judge Jay Patterson of the 101st District Court of Dallas, Texas, defends Texas’ system of popular judicial elections. He claims that Texas residents are as satisfied with the state judicial system as residents of Missouri and other states where judges are not popularly elected. Moreover, Patterson also claims that attorneys in Dallas share “the virtually unanimous opinion that our Dallas judges are the best ever and continue to get better.” Cristen Feldman and the Honorable Jay Patterson, Letters, Dallas Morning News, July 16, 2000.
18. Article reports that Dallas-based Halliburton Company, formerly by Republican Vice Presidential nominee Dick Cheney, has had a practice of making campaign contributions to Texas Supreme Court Justices when litigation involving the company is pending before the Court. Since 1993, contributions from the firm, subsidiaries, and individual executives have surpassed $80,000. During that time, Halliburton has had at least five cases before the Court and, in each case, the Court has either declined to hear the case or ruled in the company’s favor.