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Texas Lawyer’s judicial race coverage

As you know, I’ve been busy with judicial Q&As as usual, but this year I’m not the only one chasing down judicial candidates to ask them why they’d make good judges. Texas Lawyer, a part of the Law.com publication, is flooding the zone with its own Who’s Running For Judge In Texas Elections? 2020 Voters Guide. Normally you need to give Texas Lawyer your email address and are limited to three articles per month – they’ll send you a daily newsletter and breaking news, both of which have highlighted stories that I’ve blogged about that I hadn’t yet seen elsewhere – but they appear to have made this feature publicly available. They’ve got their own Q&As with the candidates, most of whom responded to them, which has some overlap with my own questions – not a surprise, there’s only so much you can ask them because there’s only so much they can ethically say. Anyway, a big thumbs up from me, so go check it out and annoy the critics of our current system by making informed choices in the upcoming primaries.

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2 Comments

  1. WPHDMPHD says:

    TL still required registration when I tried the Voters’ Guide for Judicial Races link this morning (2/2/2020)

    It’s election season, and Texas Lawyer is publishing Q&As with candidates in contested races for district and appellate court benches in the Lone Star State.

    Want to continue reading?
    Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

  2. RE: Texas Appellate Judges Performance Metrics for Comparative Evaluation

    There is an argument to be made that appellate justices can–and perhaps should–also be evaluated based on evidence of independent jurisprudential thinking and effort, reflected in whether (and to what extent) they author dissenting and concurring opinions. There is considerable inter-COA and inter-justice variation.

    First, incidence of dissents by COA, with the caveat that they vary in membership size and caseloads, which affects the raw numbers:

    TEXAS COURTS OF APPEALS: HOW COMMON ARE DISSENTS?

    Column 1: Court of Appeals (COA) Number
    Column 2: COA City
    Column 3: Sum of Dissents&Concurs (N)
    Column 4: Original Opinions On Merits (N)
    Column 5: Incidence relative to merits opinions (D&C/merits)(ratio)
    Column 6: Incidence as % of all opinions, including D&Cs (%)
    Column 7: Dissents&Concurs (N) for this court (same as Column 3)

    14 Houston [14th] 64 487 13.1% 5.9% 64
    1 Houston [1st] 42 563 7.5% 3.7% 42
    4 San Antonio 33 511 6.5% 3.4% 33
    2 Fort Worth 19 501 3.8% 2.1% 19
    8 El Paso 8 216 3.7% 2.5% 8
    5 Dallas 39 1,339 2.9% 2.5% 39
    7 Amarillo 10 367 2.7% 1.7% 10
    3 Austin 10 412 2.4% 1.5% 10
    6 Texarkana 3 281 1.1% 0.8% 3
    13 Corpus Christi 5 664 0.8% 0.7% 5
    10 Waco 22 133 16.5% 10.8% 22
    12 Tyler 1 183 0.5% 0.2% 1
    9 Beaumont 1 281 0.4% 0.2% 1
    11 Eastland 0 210 0.0% 0.0% 0
    ALL Total for State
    Statewide 257 6,148 4.2% 2.7% 257

    The numbers of D&Cs have gone up sharply vis-a-vis FY 2017-18 even though FY 2018-19 does not yet fully reflect the turnover in COA composition effective Jan. 1, 2019. Calendar year does not match Fiscal Year, so FY 2018-19 includes 4 months of calendar year 2018.

    WHO ARE THE MOST PROLIFIC DISSENTERS ON THE TEXAS COURT OF APPEALS?

    The top-ranking dissenting justices in FY 2018-19:

    Column 1: Court of Appeals Number (1 through 14)
    Column 2: Name of Justice
    Column 3: Merits Opinion (N)
    Column 4: All Dissents&Concurs/Merits (ratio)
    Column 5: All Diss&Concurs as % of all opinion by that justice, incl per curiams
    Column 6: All Diss&Concurs (N)

    14 Kem Thompson Frost 50 52.0% 18.6% 26
    10 Thomas W. Gray 84 25.0% 13.8% 21
    5 David Schenck 113 9.7% 7.9% 11
    1 Evelyn Keyes 54 16.7% 7.9% 9
    4 Sandee Marion 70 12.9% 6.0% 9
    4 Rebeca C. Martinez 71 11.3% 5.7% 8
    1 Michael Massengale 18 38.9% 15.6% 7
    14 Tracy Christopher 59 11.9% 5.4% 7
    5 Bill Whitehill 98 6.1% 5.2% 6
    14 Kevin Jewell 52 11.5% 5.0% 6
    2 Lee Gabriel 81 7.4% 4.1% 6
    14 Meagan Hassan 44 13.6% 6.4% 6
    4 Patricia Alvarez 77 7.8% 4.0% 6
    2 Bonnie Sudderth 84 6.0% 3.6% 5
    7 Brian Quinn 99 5.1% 3.2% 5
    14 Charles Spain 34 14.7% 6.1% 5
    14 Frances Bourliot 34 14.7% 5.9% 5
    1 Gordon Goodman 41 12.2% 6.0% 5
    4 Liza Rodriguez 34 14.7% 7.0% 5
    8 Gina Palafox 48 8.3% 4.4% 4
    2 J. Birdwell 59 6.8% 3.5% 4
    14 John Donovan 12 33.3% 16.0% 4
    5 Robbie Partida- Kipness 48 8.3% 6.3% 4
    1 Sarah Landau 34 11.8% 5.4% 4
    1 Terry Jennings 28 14.3% 8.5% 4
    8 Yvonne Rodriguez 88 4.5% 3.2% 4
    3 Chari Kelly 47 6.4% 4.0% 3
    5 Cory Carlyle 57 5.3% 4.1% 3
    5 David Bridges 109 2.8% 2.4% 3
    13 Gina M. Benavides 122 2.5% 2.4% 3
    1 Harvey Brown 26 11.5% 7.5% 3
    5 Jason Boatright 41 7.3% 6.8% 3
    3 Jeff Rose 63 4.8% 2.6% 3
    1 Julie Countiss 43 7.0% 3.4% 3
    4 Luz Elena Chapa 76 3.9% 2.1% 3
    3 Melissa Goodwin 64 4.7% 2.7% 3
    7 Patrick Pirtle 92 3.3% 1.9% 3
    1 Sherry Radack 62 4.8% 2.1% 3
    2 Bill Meier 19 10.5% 5.1% 2
    5 Douglas Lang 27 7.4% 6.9% 2
    7 James Campbell 87 2.3% 1.4% 2
    14 Jerry Zimmerer 31 6.5% 2.4% 2
    14 Margaret ‘Meg’ Poissant 38 5.3% 2.5% 2
    6 Ralph Burgess 87 2.3% 1.7% 2
    5 Robert Burns 53 3.8% 1.9% 2
    1 Russell Lloyd 65 3.1% 1.6% 2
    [ remainder of data comprising list of judges who wrote only one separate opinion or none was omitted ]

    Data Interpretation Caveat: The raw numbers (N count) are not directly comparable because they reflect 12-months of opinion-writing activity for continuing incumbents, but only 8 months for justices that took office 1/1/2019 and less for those that were appointed later in the year. Additionally, the first eight months of 2019 probably understate the eventual incidence of dissents because cases with panel disagreement likely take longer to be decided on average, and are therefore not fully represented yet as of the August 31 end-of-FY cut-off date. As for the justices that left office 1/1/2019, their stats only reflect four months of activity (Sep 2018-Dec 2018). The more meaningful comparison is therefore the ratio of merits opinion and D&C opinions for each appellate judge.

    Data source: Office of Court Administration:
    Annual Statistical Supplement to Annual Report for the Texas Judiciary FY 2019
    https://www.txcourts.gov/statistics/annual-statistical-reports/

    For prior year summary of opinion-production, incl. ranking of justice by number of dissents, see:

    Hirczy de Mino, Wolfgang, The Effect of the 2018 Elections on the Texas Courts of Appeals: Better Demographic Representation, Greater Partisan Balance, and More Complex Decision-Making Dynamics (December 17, 2019).
    Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3505700 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3505700

    To report error (if any) and for comments or questions, email me at [email protected]