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CCA Judge Alcala not running for re-election in 2018

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Justice Elsa Alcala

A Texas Court of Criminal Appeals judge who is well known for her criticism of the death penalty announced on Thursday that she will not run for reelection when her term ends in 2018.

Judge Elsa Alcala, a Republican who was appointed to the court in 2011 by then-Gov. Rick Perry, said the main reason she won’t run is because of the “random and unreliable” results from partisan judicial elections.

“I have seen too many qualified judges lose their bids for election or reelection, and I have witnessed the converse situation too,” she said in a posted statement on Twitter Thursday morning.


The judge is known for her lengthy dissents. In a June opinion, Alcala argued it was time for the court to look at the constitutionality of Texas’ death penalty. Some arguments against its constitutionality are a nationwide decline in capital punishment, racial discrimination and lengthy stays in solitary confinement on death row, she said.

In her time on the court, the death penalty has become more publicized, and she thinks she played a role in that, she told the Tribune shortly after her announcement.

“I got some folks to think about things that maybe they weren’t thinking about before, so I’m proud of that,” she said.

You know how I feel about complaints about partisan judicial elections, so I’ll just glide past that. Scott Henson has characterized the CCA as being made up of a “Government-Always-Wins” faction and everyone else. Alcala, who was an Assistant DA and District Court judge in Harris County before being elected to the First Court of Appeals and ultimately appointed to the CCA, was not in that faction, and recently gave a look at how the CCA decides to issue or not issue habeas writs; those of you familiar with her colleague, Sharon “We Close At Five” Keller, will not be surprised. I just hope Judge Alacala’s departure doesn’t make the usually-awful CCA any worse. Best of luck to her in whatever comes next. The Press has more.

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