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Endorsement watch: More judges

First, the good news: The Chron endorsed Bill Moody for the State Supreme Court.

Texas Supreme Court, Place 2, William E. “Bill” Moody – A former prosecutor and an experienced trial judge with a focus on civil cases, Moody won the State Bar’s judicial poll – significant for a Democrat running in a Republican-leaning state. Moody recently worked to persuade the Legislature to increase jury pay, causing more summoned jurors to report for duty. Moody’s Republican opponent, incumbent Justice Don Willett, has little experience handling the type of cases that come before the Supreme Court and has produced little since being appointed.

The Chron joins the Morning News in making the right call on this race. Well done. More about Moody is here.

Now, the bad news: The Chron not only endorsed Sharon Keller, they seem to think she’s getting better as a judge. Admittedly, it’d be hard to see how she could get worse, but given how historically bad she is, she’s got a long way to go before she could even be considered fair to middling.

And then the Chron endorsed Annette Galik:

Judge, 245th Family District Court, Annette Galik – No stranger to controversy, Judge Galik has grown in her 12 years on the job and has acquired the skills and experience she needs to excel at this difficult and sometimes dangerous post that must deal with families at their most stressful moments. Galik prides herself on being fair to both parties and favoring no lawyer over another.

That would be this Annette Galik.

Annette Galik has been a most unconventional family law jurist since she was elected as a reform candidate in 1994. She campaigned on a commitment to cleaning out a court system known for its incestuous ties between judges and the lawyers who practiced there. She has been backed consistently by Republican morality crusader Dr. Steven Hotze, who is again endorsing her in the current election.

But after elected to the bench, reformer Galik took thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from lawyers whose firms had cases in her court.

Court observers began questioning Galik’s judgment early on, when she accepted free plane tickets, hotel lodging and meals from Hotze to attend a prayer breakfast he sponsored in Austin for the gubernatorial inaugural of George W. Bush.

Just as quickly, Galik had problems in her relationship with fellow family court judges. Shortly after assuming the judgeship in 1995, she was elected by the nine-judge group as their administrative judge. Within months, five of the judges signed a letter asking for her resignation. They claimed that Galik had excluded the other jurists from deliberations about court matters, and had taken actions without consulting them.

Judge Jim Squier told commissioners court Galik had requested the remodeling of several floors of the Family Law Center unilaterally, without consulting fellow judges who worked on those floors. Other judges complained that Galik had lobbied the Legislature to get a change in state law that would allow her to hire a person who lived outside the county as associate judge in her court. In the process, Galik told legislators she had the approval of other judges to lobby for the change, when she had never consulted them. It turned out that Galik had already appointed an out-of-county associate judge, in violation of the existing state law.

Under pressure, Galik resigned as administrative judge and Squier was unanimously elected to replace her.

And this Annette Galik.

It’s not often a member of the Harris County judiciary gets to make local legal history, but Family Court Judge Doug Warne just might have done it last month. He issued an order temporarily restraining a fellow family court judge from overnight stays at her oilman boyfriend’s River Oaks mansion when the man’s daughter is there.

Warne presides over a marathon four-year divorce donnybrook in his 311th District Court, which pits 64-year-old multimillionaire Hal G. Kuntz against his remarried ex-wife Vesta Frommer. The divorce was granted three years ago, but the continuing legal struggle centers on the division of a sizable oil and gas fortune. It’s now further complicated by the awkward involvement of Family Court Judge Annette Sanderford Galik, 53, who’s romantically linked with Kuntz.

The Kuntz proceeding is similar to cases Galik rules on every week in her own 245th District Court, but since her election to the judiciary she’s shown a penchant for getting snared in such personal entanglements herself.

[…]

Galik’s relationship with Kuntz had previously caused problems in Warne’s court. The case mediator, former judge Ruby Sondock, had to recuse herself two years ago after revealing a conflict of interest. It turned out she was Galik’s morning gym workout partner.

No stranger to controversy indeed. Galik’s opponent is Mary Kay Green, who was the only Democratic challenger this year to win the Houston Bar Association Judicial Preference Poll. This one has to be a strong contender for the goofiest endorsement of the year for the Chron.

Oh, and we’re now four days into Early Voting, and there’s still no recommendations for the last four State House races. Tick tock, fellas, tick tock.

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One Comment

  1. JanetSA says:

    Anyone have a link or copy of the Dallas Morning News story that showed Willett (Moody’s opponent) had plagiarized parts of his appointment application that he filed with Perry’s office?