Paxton’s revenge against the CCA

I have three things to say about this.

A crook any way you look

The three incumbents running for their seats on Texas’ highest criminal courtwere not well known political figures outside of the legal community. That was until they earned the ire of Attorney General Ken Paxton in response to a 2021 opinion over a voter fraud case.

Now, the three female Republican justices on the Court of Criminal Appeals, Presiding Judge Sharon Keller, Judge Barbara Hervey and Judge Michelle Slaughter, find themselves in the position of having their conservative credentials questioned in “low-information elections” in which they’re up against Paxton’s political machine.

“The Court of Criminal Appeals, who I am concerned was put there by George Soros ‘cause no one knows who they are, they’re all Republicans but even Republicans don’t know who they are,” Paxton told former Fox News host Tucker Carlson last month, referring to the Democratic mega donor.

The three incumbents, who have nearly a century of combined experience practicing criminal law, as prosecutors and jurists, have been accused by Paxton’s allies of abandoning their judicial duties and stripping the attorney general’s power to enforce voter fraud — a consequential issue for the modern-day GOP under former President Donald Trump.

Three years ago, a case stemming from Paxton’s effort to override a Jefferson County district attorney who declined to prosecute a sheriff over 2016 campaign-finance allegations was before the criminal appeals court. In a 8-1 decision, the court said the Office of the Attorney General violated the separation of powers in the Texas Constitution by trying to prosecute election cases without the permission of a local prosecutor.

The timing of the opinion was such that this primary is the first opportunity for Paxton to seek political retribution against some of the eight Republican judges who he believes ruled against him.

“It’s sad because he wouldn’t know me from madam. I’m sure he doesn’t know anything about me,” said Hervey, wondering whether Paxton had actually read the opinion he railed against publically. “That’s really pathetic.”


The three incumbents have received financial support from Texans for Lawsuit Reform, a committee that Paxton has labeled a political enemy. The challengers all have the backing of a new PAC, Texans for Responsible Judges, but the three have not received contributions from the group, according to the most recent campaign finance reports.

Wendy Watson, a faculty member of the University of North Texas’ Department of Political Science, views these races as a referendum on Trump and his false claims of voter fraud.

“This is a loyalty test,” Watson said. “You didn’t let Ken Paxton prosecute voter fraud, that must be because you are okay with voter fraud. Right?”

These races are “low-information elections,” races in which voters don’t know either of the candidates well, Watson said. So any tidbit of information that a voter may get from someone, no matter how wrong or skewed, may end up being the deciding factor behind a cast ballot.


Judge Hervey has been on the bench since 2001, prior to which she worked as a Bexar County assistant criminal district attorney for 16 years.

Her experience with and knowledge of criminal law are crucial to the operation of the court, she said. On top of her duties as a judge, Hervey co-chairs the Judicial Commission on Mental Health and runs an education program that provides legal courses and assistance to judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys and court personnel.

“I think experience and dedication to these things are important to move the needle forward,” Hervey said.

On the controversial opinion, Hervey put it in simple terms: “Eight of us decided it was a good idea to follow the Constitution.”

See here for more on what this fight is about and here for an earlier story on the same subject. Now on to my three things.

1. The story also refers to Paxton’s “revenge tour” against Republican legislators who voted to impeach him. I’m not dumb enough to try to guess what Republican primary voters will do, but I will take a moment to imagine a world in which Paxton’s fevered efforts land with a giant thud as he largely or even completely fails to oust those traitors who dared oppose him. I may as well wish for a pony while I’m at it, but it is a nice thought.

2. Justice Hervey has been around Republican politics for a lot longer than I’ve been in any form of politics. I respect her experience, and I think her summary of the case in question is impeccable and pithy. That said, her quotes in this article are quaint to the point of preciousness, and I have to ask if she’s actually met any modern day Republicans, because they don’t care about any of that crap. I fear she is in for a rude awakening.

3. I need one more excerpt for this one:

Meanwhile, Slaughter received $15,000 in campaign contributions from Texans for Lawsuit Reform, the group that has earned the ire of Paxton, in addition to smaller individual donations. The committee donated the same amount to Keller and Hervey.

Fifteen K? Seriously? I’m old enough to remember when TLR was pumping millions into legislative races so as to tip the balance of power in their favor. Fifteen K isn’t enough to affect a small-county Justice of the Peace race. It wouldn’t cover the postage for a targeted mailer in Harris County, let alone the mailer itself. Whatever happened to TLR?

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4 Responses to Paxton’s revenge against the CCA

  1. There is definitely a pattern here. During the primary season, it looks like some corrupt, scandal-plagued politicians are desperately trying to eliminate any future opposition, oversight, and accountability by running their sycophants against the elected officials who dared to put their constituents, ethics, and the rule of law above radical ideology and political party affiliation. With enough misleading advertising, they believe they can gaslight party voters into supporting their sycophants. Unfortunately, they may be right. Doing the right thing shouldn’t cost elected officials their Office, but that’s the world we live in.

  2. Meme says:

    Agree, Greg, vote straight Democrat.

  3. Unfortunately, Paxton, Abbott, Trump, etc. don’t have a monopoly on the strategy. Primary voters throughtout Texas really need to educate themselves and not vote for the sycophants.

  4. Kenneth Fair says:

    In a fight between Keller and Paxton, I vote meteor.

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