Monday, January 14, 2008

Texas Criminal Justice-Related Races to Watch

What Texas criminal justice-related races are you paying attention to this election season? Here are the ones at the top of my own list of races to watch. Has anyone heard of new votes scheduled on county jail bonds? What additions would you make? Let me know in the comments.

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals:
No primaries here, and Given his past record, there's no telling whether J.R. Molina will even show up to run. But at least Susan Strawn is a qualified Democratic candidate against a CCA incumbent, and you can't take 'em out unless there's an alternative to vote for. I'm also pleased to see the GOP put someone up against Judge Womack, who arguably is Presiding Judge Sharon Keller's closest ally on the court among those running in 2008. Let's hope the MSM focuses on these and other downballot seats - Place 3 in particular, in my opinion, may be Democrats best chance to pick up a statewide seat in any race.

Place 3:
Democrat Susan Strawn vs. GOP incumbent Tom Price

Place 4:
Democrat: J.R. Molina
Republicans: Dallas District Judge Bobby Francis vs. incumbent Paul Womack

Harris County District Attorney
Before incumbent Chuck Rosenthal bowed out of the race, this looked like a strong candidate for a D win. Now the election will likely turn as much on the national political mood instead of anti-incumbent anger, unless perhaps Republican Kelly Siegler wins her party's nomination.

Democrat: Former Houston police chief C.O. Bradford
Republicans: former homicide detective Pat Lykos, assistant district attorney Kelly Siegler, defense lawyer and former prosecutor Jim Leitner and Doug Perry, who listed himself as a Houston police captain, lawyer and accountant

Harris County Sheriff
It remains to be seen how much incumbent Sheriff Tommy Thomas may be weakened by revelations about his relationship with disgraced DA Chuck Rosenthal, whose personal emails were revealed in a lawsuit alleging he was protecting the Sheriff from revelations about past misconduct.

Democrats: Guy Robert Clark, Deputy Charles Massey El, and former city councilmember Adrian Garcia
Republican: Incumbent Tommy Thomas vs. police officer Paul Day, who ran in 2004, and Michael Plagens

Harris County Judges
For the first time in years, Harris County Democrats have filed competitive candidates in every judicial race up in 2008. (See here [xls] for the full list.)

Dallas County Sheriff:
Incumbent Lupe Valdez entered office in 2004 on a platform of change then didn't fix the department's problems, particularly at the local jail. While there are reasons for that, in a campaign they sound like excuses, making her vulnerable.

Democrats: Incumbent Lupe Valdez vs. Sam Allen, Dallas lawyer Peter Schulte and Roy H. Williams Jr
Republicans: defrocked former Sheriff Jim Bowles, former Irving Police Chief Lowell Cannaday, Mesquite police Lt. Charlie Richmond and Cockrell Hill Police Chief Catherine Smit

Dallas Judgeships:
Judge John Creuzot may have trouble retaining his seat after switching parties and drawing a Democratic primary challenger, but this long-time drug court advocate has been pivotal pushing for more treatment and saner probation alternatives, both in Austin and from the bench, and it'd be a shame to lose him.

John Creuzot vs. Hiram Macbeth III

Travis County District Attorney

Democrat Ronnie Earle is retiring after more than 30 years on the job, and four of his staff members are vying in the Democratic primary to replace him:

First Assistant District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg and Assistant District Attorneys Gary Cobb, Mindy Montford and Rick Reed. Earle has endorsed Lehmberg.
Republicans: Yeah, right!

El Paso Sheriff:
With long-time Sheriff Leo Samaniego's passing, a lot of folks who've been waiting in the wings, particularly among Democrats, now think it's their turn. One thing's for sure - it'll be somebody's turn!

Democrats: Robert Almonte. Mary Lou Carrillo, Maria Guadalupe Dempsey, Luis Garcia, Carlos Leon, Alejandro "Al" Patiño, Jose Ramirez, Marvin Carrasco Ryals, Gabriel Serna, Richard Wiles, Larry G. Wilkins
Republicans: George Stoltz

Bastrop County Sheriff:
This position was vacated last year by former Sheriff Richard Hernandez after his indictment on corruption charges.

Democrats: Former DPS trooper Tommy Oates vs. former FBI agent Wayne Smith and Bastrop Deputy Glenn Wobus.
Republicans: Rosanna Abreo vs. Terry Pickering

Let me know what other Texas DA, Sheriffs or criminal judicial races your paying attention to during the 2008 election cycle.


Anonymous said...

There's a Repub Primary for CCA:

Bobby Francis (Dallas Co. Dist. J.) v. Paul Womack

Francis is pretty well regarded even by the incoming Dems in Dallas, and would be a huge improvement of course.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Thanks! I fixed it in the text.

Anonymous said...

I'm interested in the DA position for Harris County. I wonder who snitched on her boss if anyone?

Anonymous said...

We have the 175th Judicial Race in Bexar County. Mary Roman (the incumbant who had a face slap by the 4th Court of Appeals for improper conduct in a non-death captial case which was reversed) vs. Anthony Zamora (generally good guy defense attorney.) And of course the Sheriff's race. 500 democrats vs. two republicans (one of which is your old buddy Dennis McKnight)

Anonymous said...

BEXAR COUNTY 175th District Court
Mary Roman, the incumbent, was instrumental in placing William "Bill" Fitzgerald as the Chief probation officer. Remember him, the guy who made his probation officers worry about their jobs over Christmas 2006. His famous statement was, "all staff will have to reapply for their jobs via retention interviews." Anthony Zamora was given the nod by the AFL-CIO for the judgeship of the 175th D.C., because he is HONEST ad FAIR, something lacking in Judge Roman's court. Show the judges in Bexar County you support the probation officers and fairness by voting for Mr. Zamora. BC, CTAPE - USW - UNION PROUD!!!!

Anonymous said...

Ditto the last- Judge Roman is hard to work with and needs to be replaced.
You never know if you meet Jeckyl or Hyde with her. I hope to never have to practice law in front of her on the bench after this election. Go Zamora GO !!!!!

Anonymous said...

I agree Judge Roman needs to go!!!!!!!!!! Those poor probation officers went threw hell while she sat high and mighty. I hope the post at 6:37pm is right and that the AFl-CIO has backed away from her cold anti-justice attitude.

Looks like turnabout is afoot!!!
I'm voting Zamora!

Anonymous said...

Right on 6:37. People need to remember it wasn't Fitzgerald on his own that messed with the line officers ... it was the Judge's who appointed him and stood back and let him darn near ruin what was once a great department.