Endorsement watch: For Teare

The Chron makes their choice in the biggest local primary, and their choice is Sean Teare for District Attorney.

Sean Teare

When we endorsed Harris County’s top prosecutor, District Attorney Kim Ogg, for a second term in 2020, we credited the Democrat with prioritizing a fair criminal justice process “that engenders trust in the system.” We have applauded her bold reforms and brave calls, such as diverting low-level marijuana cases, ending prosecutions of people found with trace amounts of drugs, tossing wrongful convictions, supporting unpopular exonerations of innocent men, and instituting a cultural sea change that prioritizes justice above winning.

“The exoneration of innocent individuals is as important as the conviction of guilty ones,” Ogg said after the exoneration of Lydell Grant in 2021, flipping the script of some of her predecessors. “The highest responsibility of a prosecutor is to see that justice is done.”

Nearly four years later, with a string of high-profile case losses on her record, a stubbornly high backlog of criminal cases dating back to Hurricane Harvey, a reputation for mercurial management, frayed relationships with the commissioners who fund her office, and a perception that she lets personal grudges and politics cloud her judgment, she has lost some of that trust. Even among once-ardent supporters.

That includes Sean Teare, the former prosecutor now vying for her job in the Democratic primary. He says he returned in 2017 to the DA’s office from private practice specifically to work for Ogg, who immediately promoted him to lead the vehicular crimes division. Over time, he says he observed how Ogg’s decisions and shortcomings as a manager affected the agency’s mission to protect public safety: “I’m running to restore the integrity, to restore the competence in that office,” Teare told this editorial board in a side-by-side interview with Ogg. He added: “What you haven’t heard in seven and a half years is the elected DA admit that she’s part of the problem and in some cases, the problem.”

To be clear, the DA’s office isn’t an island. It’s part of an intricate system in which stakeholders such as prosecutors, police, judges, forensic lab staff and politicians weighing budget requests must depend on each other to keep the gears of justice turning. No matter what. No matter if a hurricane floods the courthouse, as happened in 2017, or a global pandemic sends crime surging, as happened from 2020 through 2022. In her own office, which processes tens of thousands of criminal cases each year, Ogg, 64, often must delegate life-altering decisions to her subordinates.

“We can’t micromanage every case,” Ogg told us. “So, we rely upon the training we’ve provided them and the supervision that we try to provide them to make the best decision based on their judgment at the time.”

Even so, Ogg is responsible for overarching decisions that influence everything from employee morale to public trust in the criminal justice system to outcomes in the courtroom. Incidentally, our concerns with endorsing her for a third term are not necessarily the same that led county Democratic precinct chairs to vote 129-61 to admonish Ogg for not adequately representing Democratic values. Their complaints included Ogg’s investigation of fellow Democratic officeholders. In our view, Ogg was justified if not duty-bound to investigate elected officials regardless of party. We make no bones about Ogg doing her job; we’re concerned she’s not doing it effectively enough.

My interview with Sean Teare is here and my interview with Kim Ogg is here, and you should listen to them both if you haven’t already. This is a long op-ed that covers a lot of ground, more about Ogg than Teare though there’s plenty about him, and it is also worth your time.

In addition to some nods in Republican primaries, the Chron also makes endorsements in the two contested Democratic primaries for Supreme Court.

Born in Dallas and a graduate of the University of Texas law school, Randy Sarosdy worked for 24 years in Washington D.C. with Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, often defending corporate clients in labor, environmental and intellectual property cases. Those are the sorts of complex civil cases that go before the Texas Supreme Court. He relocated to Austin and, after six more years with Akin Gump, joined the Texas Justice Court Training Center and became a teacher for new judges, including justices of the peace, who are not required to have a law degree.

Sarosdy, 71, also served as the executive director of the Texas Center for the Judiciary. One of the important but underappreciated aspects of the job on the Supreme Court is leading statewide initiatives that improve the judicial system or increase access to justice. Sarosdy is particularly well suited for that work. His motivation to run, he told us, is to protect fundamental rights under the Texas Constitution. He notes, correctly, that in the wake of recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions, state courts now play a greater role than before around abortion and voting rights.


Voters have the choice between a deeply qualified justice serving on an intermediate appellate court and a district judge who appears to be drawn to quixotic quests to effect change.

Bonnie Lee Goldstein, 62, has a breadth of experience that’s well suited to serving on the Texas Supreme Court. She has 20 years in the judiciary including 11 as a municipal judge, six as a civil district judge and three on the 5th District Court of Appeals in Dallas. If she wins in the primary, she would face Jane Bland, a well-respected justice. Goldstein told us she believes voters should always have a choice, and she’s certainly the most qualified one.

The other primary candidate is Joe Pool, a district judge in Hays County who has run for Supreme Court three times before in Republican primaries, though he seems to be more of a crusader than a partisan.

The first race is for Place 2, the second is for Place 6. I don’t have anything for you on them, I didn’t send my Q&As to the statewide candidates. For what it’s worth, after reading this endorsement piece, I’m in agreement with the Chron’s assessments.

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