The Chron has a nice story about Bert Richardson, the well-regarded judge in the Rick Perry trial, though they manage to completely avoid addressing a key issue regarding him.
When Gov. Rick Perry was asked whether the criminal case against him could mar his potential presidential bid, he waved off the idea by saying he has no problem multi-tasking.
The same can be said of the state judge who holds Perry’s fate in his hands.
Senior Judge Bert Richardson is deciding whether to toss the indictment against Perry in a case being closely watched nationally because of its potential effect on Texas’ longest-serving governor.
But big as that decision is, it’s far from the only thing on Richardson’s plate.
As a visiting judge whose territory includes multiple counties, he has been handling everything from a regular prison docket in South Texas to high-profile murder cases.
He’s preparing for the next step of his career on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, a seat he won in November.
And in his spare time, he is a freelance photographer covering sports for a running magazine and capturing moments around his San Antonio home, at the Texas Capitol or in the counties he visits in his day job.
While overseeing the Perry case, Richardson has carried on with responsibilities that recently included a prison docket in Beeville in which an inmate slipped out of his handcuffs and started a fight outside the courtroom.
High-profile cases under his purview include DNA issues in the death-penalty case of convicted El Paso serial killer David Leonard Wood; the murder conviction of Sonia Cacy, seeking to be declared innocent after being paroled after the fiery death of her uncle in Fort Stockton; and the case of Darlene Gentry, a nurse seeking a new trial after getting 60 years in the 2005 shooting death of her husband in Robinson.
Richardson wouldn’t talk about the cases he’s overseeing, but indicated that he takes his responsibility as seriously in other cases as in the Perry indictment.
“I’ve tried lots of death penalty cases as a prosecutor and as a judge. To me those things are more stressful than this. … It’s a life-and-death decision,” he said, while emphasizing, “I understand the importance of this and I certainly want to make the right decisions based on the law.”
Richardson so far has ruled against Perry’s efforts to have the case dismissed on technical objections to the special prosecutor, San Antonio lawyer Michael McCrum, based on issues related to his oath.
Richardson appointed McCrum as special prosecutor after Lehmberg recused herself. Given that he had administered McCrum’s oath, Richardson asked lawyers whether they wanted a different judge to hear the matter, but they didn’t. He has yet to rule on broader challenges to the indictment.
That ruling on McCrum was back in November; I had expected a quicker ruling on the other motions, but I suppose Perry’s lawyers might have buried him in paperwork, thus drawing out the timeline. Be that as it may, I had been assuming that once Richardson was sworn in as a Court of Criminal Appeals justice that he’d have to drop the other judicial work he’d been doing. This article doesn’t address that point at all, though it does give the impression that Richardson will in fact keep on doing what he’s been doing, though presumably he would not take on any new cases. Can any of the lawyers out there help me understand this? I mean, if he does continue on whatever he rules will likely wind up before the CCA down the line, and he’d (I assume) have to recuse himself from those hearings. Is this normal? Has any other judge been in a similar position before? I have no idea. Grits has more.