Judicial Q&A: Justice Richard Hightower

(Note: As I have done in past elections, I am running a series of Q&As for judicial candidates in contested Democratic primaries. This is intended to help introduce the candidates and their experiences to those who plan to vote in March. I am running these responses in the order that I receive them from the candidates. Much more information about Democratic primary candidates, including links to the interviews and judicial Q&As, can be found on Erik Manning’s spreadsheet.

Justice Richard Hightower

1. Who are you and in which court do you preside?

I am Richard Hightower, and I currently preside on the 1st Court of Appeals, Place 8.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

My court reviews civil and criminal appeals from trial courts in ten counties that include Harris, Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Colorado, Ft. Bend, Galveston, Grimes, Waller, and Washington. My court also has jurisdiction over original proceedings, such as writs of mandamus. We have appellate jurisdiction in all state court cases other than death penalty cases.

3. What have been your main accomplishments during your time on this bench?

During each of my five years on the 1st Court of Appeals, my court has exceeded the performance goals set by the Office of Court Administration, including those related to the timely disposition of appeals. I have authored hundreds of civil and criminal appellate opinions and have worked collaboratively with my colleagues on the court to provide thoughtful and reasoned decisions that follow legal precedent. I am especially proud of how my court responded to the significant challenges to justice brought about by the COVID epidemic.

4. What do you hope to accomplish in your courtroom going forward?

Although proud of my performance during my first term, I believe that the experience I have gained during the past five years will only enhance my skills during a second term. One of the most enjoyable parts of my job is time spent with our law student interns. My goal is to find more time and additional ways to assist the development and skills of our interns and to help guide them into successful legal careers of their own.

5. Why is this race important?

Appellate courts issue the written decisions that trial courts are expected to follow. We make important decisions that affect the daily lives of both businesses and individuals. Only ten percent or less of the cases that we decide will be accepted for review by a higher court. As a result, we are the final decision maker for 90 percent of the cases filed in our District.

6. Why should people vote for you in March?

Legal experience is a necessity on an appellate bench. I am a 1980 graduate of Baylor Law School and served as a member of the Baylor Law Review. I have continuously practiced law since that time. As an attorney, I enjoyed a broad trial practice and also represented the interests of our public-school districts for many of those years. As an attorney, I am rated AV—Preeminent by my peers (Martindale-Hubbell), which is the rating standard reserved for attorneys who exhibit the highest level of professional and ethical excellence. As an appellate judge, I have received outstanding evaluations in each of the three years that appellate judges have been subject to performance review by appellate attorneys who practice in my court. I actively participate in many events sponsored by the Houston and Texas Bar Associations, and I am deeply committed to giving back to our legal community.

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One Response to Judicial Q&A: Justice Richard Hightower

  1. Jeff N. says:

    He’s an excellent appellate justice. Thanks for sharing this.

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