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Texas BlogWire

Help Find Good Candidates for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals

by: Scott Cobb

Tue Dec 11, 2007 at 03:49 AM CST

( - promoted by Phillip Martin)

We need to find some good candidates for the discredited Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. In 2004, Texas Monthly called the all-Republican Texas Court of Criminal Appeals the "Worst Court in Texas" in a bold headline on the cover of the magazine. In this month's magazine, Texas Monthly says that Sharon Keller, the CCA's Presiding Judge,  should be impeached for her unethical behavior on Sept 25, when she said "We close at 5" and refused to accept an appeal from a man set for execution that night. Excerpt:
When a man's life is on the line-to say nothing of the U.S. Constitution-our top criminal judge should behave like one: with prudence, fairness, and a calm hand. It's time for Keller to go. If the commission doesn't act quickly, we'll have to wait until January 2009, when the Legislature-which has the power to oust high judges-reconvenes, or worse, 2012, when Keller is up for reelection. The fact is, we need to do it now. Impeach Sharon Keller.

Keller is not on the ballot in 2008, but that does not mean the Court should get a pass.

Grits for Breakfast has written extensively on the need for candidates to step up now and run for the CCA:

Of the incumbents who're up next go-round, at least Tom Price has the good sense to call a spade a spade, vocally declaring some time ago that the court's radical pro-prosecution precedents made them a "laughingtsock" around the nation's legal community. And Cathy Cochran finally came out to publicly criticize the Presiding Judge over the recent "We close at 5" debacle. The other judge up next year, Paul Womack, probably should be targeted before those two, but really IMO it's time to begin a comprehensive infusion of fresh blood.
There are three seats up and Democrats should find strong candidates for all of them. Both Scott Henson at Grits and I have separately asked some people to run, but so far no one has said yes. Now, there are only three weeks left before the filing deadline. We need to find someone before it is too late.

A Democrat can win election to the CCA in 2008 for two main reasons 1) the national political environment is favorable to the Democrats and a winning Democratic presidential candidate could have an impact on lower ballot races and 2) the "laughingstock" reputation of the CCA is likely to cause many editorial boards and other organizations to endorse a well-qualified challenger to the Republican incumbents on the ballot.

The key here is "well-qualified". In 2006, some media outlets, including the Dallas Morning News, wanted to endorse someone other than the Republican incumbents, but they did not think the challengers were up to the task in 2006. Excerpt from the DMN editorial:

When it comes to uninspiring court contests, the statewide Court of Criminal Appeals pretty much takes the cake.

Three Republican incumbents, none of whom deserves to be a shoo-in for re-election. One Democrat and two Libertarians, none of whom could be bothered to show up for an interview - or, in the case of the Democrat, complete a questionnaire.

Keller is not on the ballot, but she can be an issue in the election. She only won in 1994 anyhow because of down-ballot pull on the heels of the sweeping national Republican victory that year. It is time for the tables to turn.  

I am writing this post to ask the blogging community to help find good candidates for the CCA. Help us find a practicing lawyer, a law professor, or a judge whom we can interest in running for the CCA.

Please use the comments to suggest people the Texas Democratic Party should contact about running for the court. Or email names to me at scottcobb99 (at) and I will pass them along to the state party.  

Candidates for the court are required to submit 50 signatures from each of Texas' 14 appellate districts, so even after a candidate is found, the blogging community should be ready to help the candidates get those signatures. I am ready to help.  

Scott Cobb :: Help Find Good Candidates for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
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Please note that ... (0.00 / 0)
another way to get on the CCA ballot is with 5,000 signatures from anywhere in Texas.

So if Houston, Austin or San Antonio has an event like Dallas' Kwanza-Fest (that had 60,000 mostly democratic persons over this last weekend in one location), then there is the possibility of setting up shop in one location and "going to town" to get the signatures.  Even better, if you get 5,000 signatures, there then there is no filing fee required!

So the options are 700 from 14 places or 5,000 from any one place, as long as they are registered (and are not planning on voting in the GOP Primary).

As with the Supreme Court races, for a qualified candidate there is a network of folks willing to help out with the signatures in the 14 districts or with other logistical items.

Eric Roberson

Signatures (0.00 / 0)
You do have to have 50 signatures in each of the Court of Appeals regions. If you get the 5000 you do not have to pay the filing fee. But the 50 per have to be done period.
It can be done if there is an organized effort all over the state. Someone has to look & verify they are registerd by putting their voter certificate number on the petition form. The person who gets the signatures has to sign the form & get their signature notarized. The petitions must be turned in when the candidate files.
There are activist Democrats all over Texas who would probably help. There are also criminal defense lawyers all over Texas who could help.
All petition signers commit upon signing not to vote in the primary of the other party and not to sign for another candidate in the exact same race.

these 50 signatures per region... (0.00 / 0)
Are these 50 signatures per region required by the filing deadline?

[ Parent ]
The 50 signatures (0.00 / 0)

[ Parent ]
Capitol Annex had something about the signatures (0.00 / 0)
with some history and legislative intent explanations.  here

[ Parent ]
Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (0.00 / 0)
Very few Texans know that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has the ultimate jurisdiction in criminal cases making it at least as important as the Texas Supreme Court. Many Texans probably have the erroneous belief that cases decided by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals can be appealed to the Texas Supreme Court.  


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