September 06, 2007
Yanez announces for Supreme Court

The good news is that Court of Appeals Judge Linda Yanez has announced her intention to run for the State Supreme Court. From her press release:

Yanez, a Democrat and the Senior Justice on the 13th Court of Appeals, said she could no longer turn a blind eye to the "extreme right judicial activism" of our state's highest court. One of the highest profile examples of the current brand of judicial activism is the case of Duenez v. F.F.P (Link to Texas Monthly coverage of case: "I authored the Court of Appeals' decision that affirmed the jury's verdict in favor of the brain damaged child victim of the drunk driver," Yanez noted. "The current members of our state's highest court reversed a jury verdict, ignored the Dram Shop law, and overturned their own prior ruling in the same case after an election took place."

The Duenez case is just one symptom of the larger problem the Supreme Court suffers from, Yanez argues. "One-party rule has once again bred arrogance, group-think, and allowed the pay-for-play politics that favors insurance companies and large firms to go unchecked." Yanez referred to recent studies authored by non-partisan consumer watch groups Texas Watch and Texans for Public Justice that indicate the all-Republican court has taken millions of dollars from insurance companies and corporate defense firms in recent years while ruling against consumers 84% of the time last term --up from 52% of the time in 2000. "The court's behavior gives regular Texans every reason to question if Justice is for sale on our state's highest court."

Yanez, a Democrat, was appointed to the Thirteenth Court of Appeals in 1993 by Governor Ann Richards -- making her the first Hispanic woman to serve in an appellate court in the history of Texas.

Justice Yanez' work ethic and commitment to education have carried her from the cotton fields of South Texas, to becoming an elementary school teacher, an attorney, and a judge. A former Clinical Instructor at Harvard Law School, Justice Yanez received her Master of Laws from the University of Virginia, led President Clinton's transition team on immigration issues, and received the "Lifetime Achievement Award" from the Hispanic Bar Association. Place 8 is currently held by Republican Phil Johnson, who was appointed to the bench in 2005 by Governor Rick Perry.

The bad news is that she's announced for the same seat that Judge Susan Criss has announced for, meaning we've got two well-qualified candidates vying for one spot, with two other seats left unchallenged. Much as I like the idea of a contested primary between two good contenders, there's got to be a better answer than this. If the other two slots get filled with people of similar quality, then I'll cope with it. But man, would I rather get to vote for both Yanez and Criss in November of '08 than have to choose between them in March. I hope one of them chooses to aim for another seat before the filing deadline.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on September 06, 2007 to Election 2008