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October 31st, 2022:

All of the judicial Q&As for this cycle

At the end of the primary cycle, I rounded up all of the interviews and judicial Q&As done for the primaries and runoffs, so that you’d have them in one place. As I ran the November interviews, I included links to the others I had done before, but I never did round up all of the latest judicial Q&As. Here they are now, in case you want to review them before you vote.

Justice Julie Countiss, Chief Justice, First Court of Appeals
Ted Wood, Chief Justice, First Court of Appeals
Judge Mike Engelhart, , First Court of Appeals, Place 4

Judge Brian Warren, 209th Criminal Court
Judge Josh Hill, 232nd Criminal District Court
Judge Lori Chambers Gray, 262nd Criminal District Court

Judge Tanya Garrison, 157th Civil District Court
Judge Beau Miller, 190th Civil District Court
Judge Cory Sepolio, 269th Civil District Court
Judge Donna Roth, 295th Civil District Court

Judge Gloria Lopez, 308th Family District Court
Judge Linda Dunson, 309th Family District Court
Judge Sonya Heath, 310th Family District Court
Judge Michelle Moore, 314th Juvenile District Court

Judge Audrie Lawton Evans, Harris County Civil Court at Law #1
Judge LaShawn Williams, Harris County Civil Court at Law #3

Judge Alex Salgado, Harris County Criminal Court at Law #1
Judge Shannon Baldwin, Harris County Criminal Court at Law #4
Judge Toria Finch, Harris County Criminal Court at Law #9
Judge Genesis Draper, Harris County Criminal Court at Law #12
Je’Rell Rogers, Harris County Criminal Court at Law #14
Judge Tonya Jones, Harris County Criminal Court at Law #15

Judge Jerry Simoneaux, Harris County Probate Court #1
Pamela Medina, Harris County Probate Court #2
Judge Jason Cox, Harris County Probate Court #3
Judge James Horwitz, Harris County Probate Court #4

Contempt of court in the True the Vote lawsuit

Wilder and wilder.

After a chaotic day of testimony on Thursday, a federal judge in Texas found Catherine Engelbrecht and Gregg Phillips — known as leaders of the group True the Vote — in contempt of court. They are facing accusations of defamation and computer crimes from a company at the center of a viral right-wing social media campaign engineered by the conservative voting organization.

The judge informed the pair they would face jail time if they do not comply with the terms of a court order by Monday at 9 a.m.

“I expect both defendants to be present,” said U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt, a Ronald Reagan appointee, looking at their table. Marshals, he said, would be ready to arrest them.

Thursday’s finding of contempt was the latest in a string of twists in the civil suit filed in September by Konnech, a Michigan-based company that provides poll worker management software to elections offices.

In filings and testimony, the basic facts and plot lines have shifted from week to week, often producing unexplained contradictions. True the Vote’s telling involves a lengthy middle-of-the-night hotel rendezvous, double-crossing federal agents, confidential informants, and security threats on two continents.

Konnech’s lawsuit, on the other hand, alleges that True the Vote’s baseless and racist accusations against the company’s CEO, Eugene Yu, forced him and his family to flee their home in fear for their lives and damaged the company’s business. Meanwhile, Yu was arrested and charged by the Los Angeles district attorney on allegations of storing government data in China, in breach of its contract, that appear similar to at least some of the allegations True the Vote has made, and Los Angeles officials have said they received an initial tip from Phillips.

For years, Engelbrecht and Phillips have come under fire for promoting election conspiracy theories while offering scant evidence to support them. But their current campaign against Konnech is forcing them to back up what they’ve said since August on far-right social networks and platforms in the more skeptical setting of a federal courtroom.

See here for the previous update. It’s impossible to convey how chaotic this all was without excerpting huge portions of the story, so just click over and read the whole thing. I have no idea what happens next – as far as the near future goes, either Engelbrecht and Phillips will be spending some amount of time in the federal pokey or they will finally give up the evidence they’ve been required to present – but what is clear is that these people are not operating on the same plane of reality as the rest of us. There have always been people like that in the world, but they used to mostly inhabit the fringes. Now they’re much more mainstream, and there’s no obvious precedent for any of this. I suspect we have not reached the pinnacle of the craziness here yet. The Chron has more.

Drought is not good for pumpkins

Sorry, kids.

This year’s hot, dry weather has wreaked havoc on Texas agriculture, and the state’s pumpkin crop has not been spared. Farmers and agricultural experts say that drop in supply has translated into higher prices for pumpkins popular for display and jack-o’-lantern carving this fall.

“We didn’t have not even half as many pumpkins on the vine as we should have [this year],” pumpkin farmer Chris Hacker told KUT. “They’re not turning out as good as previous years.”

Hacker grows pumpkins on 150 acres in Knox County, between Dallas and Lubbock. He says his crop relies on irrigated water to thrive. But even with that supply, the extreme heat stopped pumpkins from growing.

Pumpkin flowers, he said, become difficult for insects to pollinate in extreme heat, so fewer of them grow into the beloved seasonal gourds.

“The pollen just wasn’t working the way it should,” Hacker said. “If you have too many days over 95 degrees consistently, then the pollen just goes stale. No matter how many bees you got out in the field working, it just doesn’t work.”

In Floyd County, the state’s top-pumpkin growing region, growers have also reported below average yields, according to the Texas Agrilife Crop and Weather Report.

“This year was a lot like 2011 in that we were starting to get 100 degree days early in May … and we had them all summer,” Jerry Coplen, an AgriLife Extension agent in Knox County, said.

Texas is not a big pumpkin producer compared to some other states. According to the Agrilife report, Illinois produces 90% of the nation’s pumpkin harvest, if you include pumpkins grown for food.

But when it comes to specialty “ornamental” pumpkins used for seasonal display, the drop in local or statewide production can still impact prices, Coplen said.

Any time the year 2011 is invoked in a weather-related story, it’s bad news. Hope things are better next year.

November 2022 Day Seven EV totals: On to Week 2

Fresh from Sunday night: Final EV totals from 2018 are here and from 2014 are here. The Day Seven totals for 2022 are here.


Year     Mail    Early    Total
===============================
2014   57,546  137,137  194,683
2018   77,347  429,009  506,356
2022   44,163  354,100  398,263

Saturday’s in person total of 41K was surprisingly low, while Sunday’s 25K was much more in line with expectations. Because Saturday in 2018 was much busier, the 2022 pace has fallen off a bit, though the in person total is still about 82.5% of what it was four years ago. The early vote for 2022 after seven days has now exceeded the entire early vote from 2014. An average of about 59K per day for this week, not much higher than the average for the first seven days, would make the 2022 early total be greater than the final turnout for all of 2014. Obviously, we want to aim much higher than that, and we have many more voters now than we did eight years ago – and also four years ago. We’ll see what this week holds. Have you voted yet?