“the often-absurd nature of our system of forcing state judges -- who are supposed to be above politics -- to run for election.” (See Court Pester, Feb. 1) Last week, the Commission found Judge Price guilty of violating the state’s judicial election codes by pledging, as a candidate for the Chief Judge position of the Court of Criminal Appeals, to “show no leniency to violent criminals.” The columnist finds Judge Price’s promise to be par for the course for judicial elections: “Short of having a magical name like . . . Mother Teresa, the only way to win a race for the Court of Criminal Appeals in the Republican primary is to vow to be tougher on crime than the next candidate. Constitutional rights of criminal defendants are . . . an afterthought.” The columnist concludes by noting th! at, despite his pledge, Judge Price voted twice last week to grant retrial to defendants convicted of violent crimes and sentenced to death. Clay Robison, Judge’s Politics an Exception to Rulings, Houston Chronicle, February 2, 2001.
Editorial demands reform for Texas’ judicial elections: “The judicial selection system in Texas has been a national embarrassment going on 15 years now, since CBS’ 60 Minutes first asked in 1987 if justice is for sale in Texas.” It agrees with Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Phillips who asserted, in his recent State of the Judiciary address, that judicial elections “dangerously impede public respect for the administration of justice.” The editorial concludes that the legislature would do well to adopt Chief Justice Phillips’ suggestions for improvement, such as public funding for judicial candidates, retention elections for incumbents, and state-distributed voter guides. An Uphill Battle for Judicial Reform, Austin American-Statesman, February 19, 2001.
Column parses Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Phillips’ recent State of the Judiciary Address. In his speech, Chief Justice Phillips dismissed as “wishful thinking” the idea that, because the state courts have not been embroiled in recent scandals, there is no need for reform: “the greatest systemic problem with Texas courts remains the way our judges are selected. The current system has outlived its usefulness and now dangerously impedes public respect for the administration of justice.” The columnist argues that Chief Justice Phillips’s concern stems from the belief that the state judiciary suffered no scandals only because “Democrats . . . gave GOP Supreme Court justices a free ride” in 2000, thereby avoiding the heated campaign battles of the past. In his address, Chief Justice Phillips also attacked the practice of voting for judicial candidates based on party affiliation alone and noted that many able Democratic judges had b! een defeated as a result. Moreover, he gave his support for the public financing of judicial campaigns and called for the creation of internet voter information guides. Bruce Davidson, Once Again, Phillips Is Calling for Reform, San Antonio Express-News, February 23,
32. Op-ed by Claude DuCloux, member of the board of directors for the State Bar of Texas, attacks Texas’ judicial elections. DuCloux states that although “the public