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Reading is difficult. As a writer, I help the reader every way I can think of. As a reader, I work hard not to miss the big things in the middle of the road.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

I Have Corrected Mistakes.

1. I had the wrong Richard Davis in a post day-before-yesterday.
2. David C. Newell was a teaching assistant teaching legal writing at UT, not any kind of professor.
Both posts have been updated with corrections.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

If Two Candidates Run Without Websites, Will Bloggers Ever Learn about Them?- Fourteenth Court of Appeals

New Houston Fourteenth Court of Appeals Republican Justice Ken Wise has drawn a Democrat challenger, Gordon Goodman. Justice Wise was a commercial litigator before getting to be a trial court judge and then being appointed by Governor Rick Perry to the Fourteenth. He appears not to have a campaign web site up yet. Goodman does not have a campaign web site either. Goodman appears to be an 36-year lawyer who has been working as an oil executive and volunteers with University of Houston.

Three Republicans Line up to Challenge Jim Sharp for his Seat in Houston's First Court of Appeals

We've blogged before about Houston First Court of Appeals Justice Jim Sharp's problem with the Judicial Conduct Commission.

 He's a Democrat. He was a solo general practitioner. He's not a particularly bad guy, as Democrats go, and as handsome as a movie actor. The GOP apparently smells blood in the water since three people are competing for the chance to challenge him in the general election:

  • Chad Bridges is head of the Family Violence Division of the Fort Bend County District Attorney's Office. Before that he was First Assistant to the Waller County D.A., and before that, he worked in the Post-Conviction Writ Section of the Appellate Division of the Harris County District Attorney's Office. He was honored by the Crime Victims Response Team of Fort Bend County. He and his wife Claudia are active in the Pecan Grove Gators of the Fort Bend Youth Football League. He was formerly a peace officer and serves on a State Bar Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee. His web site lists important appellate matters he has handled and trials that he has done, which we always like. Apparently a Brookshire resident, he also has the finest looking crew cut I've seen since the '60's.
  • Dan Linebaugh, a Baytown small firm lawyer, board certified in personal injury law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and in civil trial law by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. He won awards in moot court and mock trial with his work in the excellent South Texas College of Law advocacy program. There's a lot missing here because I could find hardly any campaign information about him conveniently.
  • Russell Lloyd was a civil district judge in Harris County in the late '80s and in the '90s, before he got washed out in the Great Blue Wave back then. I don't remember him as an especially good or bad judge back at that time, though then, a little more than now, civil plaintiffs' lawyers were generally treated by the civil bench as loathsome. An Eagle Scout, he was an Air Force veteran, then was an Airborne Ranger in the Army National Guard, and then later a member of the Judge Advocate General's Corps there. As a law student he was executive editor of the American Journal of Criminal Law. He was an Assistant Scoutmaster. He is a life member of the National Rifle Association and has volunteered with the Houston Humane Society. He has been a super-Republican for many, many years- to give you samples of everything that he has done would swamp this part of the post. He's an amateur musician and member of the big Episcopal church in River Oaks. After he was turned off the bench, he has been working on plaintiffs' side with John O'Quinn and had such an unhappy client that he was sued for legal malpractice, but the case was dismissed. He's been married 30 years to attorney Mary Lloyd, and the two of them have two kids, each of whom are lawyers. I think that he has done great service to the Republican Party, that he was not hateful from the trial bench as so many of his colleagues were, that he is highly intelligent and diligent, though maybe more as a politician than a jurist. He's done a very great deal over the decades. Out of all the great multitudes of things that he has done, only one has been seriously questioned and that complaint was eventually dismissed. Seventeen years ago the Texas Supreme Court chose him out of all the state district court judges in the state to try a lawyer discipline case; that's not a job a chump gets.
Justice Sharp is good-looking. Judge Lloyd looks wonderful in his (old)  photo, but we still have to give the palm for great hair to Chad Bridges.

The Contested and Uncontested Races for Beaumont's Ninth Court of Appeals

Chief Justice of Beaumont's Ninth Supreme Judicial District Steve McKeithen did not draw an opponent for this upcoming term.
New justice Leanne Johnson did, though. 88th District Court Judge Earl B. Stover III who holds court in Hardin and Tyler Counties in Kountze and Woodville, respectively, is running. Law licensed since 1978, Judge Stover was the son of a prior judge of the district court. Little information is conveniently available about him on the internet.
I met Justice Johnson at a continuing legal education in Conroe. She turned out to be smart, really hard-working-- McKeithen said that one of the first things Johnson asked him was about building protocols related to being in the middle of the night working-- and really pleasant though with the possibility of an edge. She told a similar story about being in the courthouse at 3 AM working. It sounded like that she was doing a pile of work like Justice Gaultney used to.
Justice Johnson is originally from Joaquin, Texas-- like you, I had to look it up to find it. She was the daughter, the youngest in the family, of a teacher and military officer who died on duty in Vietnam. Educated in southern Arkansas, she graduated in the top 5% of her law school class. She was on law review and did moot court, then got a job as a law clerk for a federal trial judge in Louisiana. She made her career at the Beaumont white-shoe law firm Orgain, Bell, and Tucker. She's board certified in personal injury law. She is active in Beaumont civil affairs.
A link to our prior post about Justice Johnson with more details is here.

Candidates for Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Place Nine

The only Texas Court of Criminal Appeals race we haven't talked about yet is the one for Place Nine, which is presently held by Cathy Cochran. No Democrats here-- there are two Republicans in the primary, and the winner there gets the job.

  1. Harris County Appellate Prosecutor David C. Newell out of Missouri City in Fort Bend County is board certified in criminal law and criminal appellate law. He had taught legal writing as a teaching assistant at the University of Texas, an appellate prosecutor at the Fort Bend County District Attorney's Office, and an Assistant County Attorney in Fort Bend County. He is the Chair of the editorial board of the most excellent publication of the Texas District and County Attorneys Association, The Texas Prosecutor. He wrote a column for that publication: "As the Judge Sees It," and he has generally been the person updating the audience on case law of the Court of Criminal Appeals for the premier criminal law continuing education course in Texas, the State Bar of Texas Advanced Criminal Law Course and on case law of the CCA and the Supreme Court (not clear if this is the Supreme Court of the United States or the Supreme Court of Texas-- TDCAA's web site is down at the time of this posting.). His campaign website has a list of notable cases, and he is an honors English graduate from the University of Houston, charming touches both. He is married to Shayne Hurst Newell, an assistant general counsel for leading old-time Houston white-shoe law firm Baker Botts LLP, who has also been active on the Fort Bend Junior Service League and is on the board of the Literacy Council of Fort Bend County. They have two children.
  2. W.C. "Bud" Kirkendall presides over the 2nd 25th Judicial District Court in Colorado, Gonzales, Guadalupe, and Lavaca Counties. He's been kicking around the Texas legal community for 40 years. Judge Kirkendall started out as a briefing attorney at the CCA. Generally, that's evidence of having done well in law school. He was a private practice lawyer, including doing criminal defense, in Seguin, Texas, a town outside of San Antonio on the Guadalupe River, home of Texas Lutheran University-- where one can study ancient Greek, Hebrew, or philosophy, among many other subjects, birthplace of the folk/country singer Nanci Griffith and of a lawyer friend of mine. Judge Kirkendall was an award-winning (State Bar of Texas and the Jon Ben Sheppard Public Leadership Forum) elected District Attorney for the 25th Judicial District, and then rose to his current bench ten years ago. He got an exemplary judicial faculty award from the Texas Center for the Judiciary. He's been active in Seguin community affairs. He's been married to Alice Scull Kirkendall so long that I will not name the number for her sake. 

Who's Running for Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Place Four?

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Judges Paul Womack-- Place Four-- and Cathy Cochran-- Place Nine-- are retiring at the ends of their terms. So is Judge Tom Price-- Place Three, but we've already discussed the race for his old seat in a previous post. Let's look at the Place Four race here. There are three Republican candidates for Place Four-- no Democrats:
  • My friend Jani Jo Wood, nee' Jani Maselli, a name to conjure with in Texas post-conviction law, board certified in criminal appellate law, has the highest rating in the Martindale-Hubble legal directory. In addition to working full-time for Harris County, she's been an adjunct legal writing professor for the University of Houston. She's been honored by the Harris County Criminal Defense Lawyers' Association and the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers' Association, and she's a former Staff Attorney for the Court of Criminal Appeals. She has given a number of Continuing Legal Education papers and proceedings. She appears to have started her career in one of the greatest starting places for a budding criminal lawyer-- State Counsel for Offenders, Texas's prison public defender office. She was the lawyer who basically invalidated Harris County criminal courts' cost billing system, saving Harris County convicts big bunches of money. She is a very nice lady, and her husband, who appears to have been a Randall County Judge, appears to be a very nice guy also-- he appears to be carrying a great deal of water to support this campaign.
  • Kevin Patrick Yeary, a Bexar County Appellate Prosecutor, who started his career as a briefing attorney for Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Bill M. White-- which means that he had been a very good law student, then worked in private practice in a San Antonio general litigation firm, which had some criminal defense work that he had done. After that he did turns as an appellate prosecutor at the Dallas County D.A.'s office and the Harris County D.A.'s office back in the days when they were two of the toughest counties in Texas. Since then, he's been in Bexar County's D.A.'s office. He's taught prospective paralegals at San Antonio College. He's active in his Roman Catholic parish, and for the Encino Park Blue Sharks Swim Team. His wife is a San Antonio pediatrician. He is a very pleasant, gentlemanly, learned person, who caught my originally mistaken post about Richard Dean Davis and told me about it over the phone, for which I am extremely grateful.
  • Richard Dean Davis, unfortunately sharing the name of a serial rapist and killer, is a trial and appellate lawyer in the Austin exurb of Burnet of 31 years of experience. He had been a small firm lawyer in Brownsville and in Waco and in Odessa before moving to the Austin area where he eventually ended up with the Burnet practice he has today. He was a special prosecutor, then acting Sherman County Attorney in Stratford in the panhandle and worked in Odessa in the Ector County District Attorney's office and then later in the County Attorney's office, and had an appointment as a special prosecutor when he was at the County Attorney's office. He has been a contract public defender in Burnet. Along with a Travis County Assistant District Attorney, Davis did a jury selection training for his legal alma mater Baylor. He won a "Best Lawyer in Burnet" award in a contest in the local paper. He loves to hunt, but doesn't get as much chance to do it as he would like, and is married to a shy woman. Possessed of a truly beautiful, sonorous radio voice, he is easygoing and humorous in casual conversation.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Outlaws Near-Interminable Post-Conviction Habeas Corpus Filings.

Charles Ray Walton filed a post-conviction application for writ of habeas corpus with a handwritten memorandum of law of 328 pages, 138 of which relate to the first of his eight grounds. In a unanimous opinion written by Presiding Judge Sharon Keller, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals have changed the Texas Rules of Appellate Procedure to limit memoranda of law to 15,000 words if computer-generated and to 50 pages if not; these limitations generally only apply to the argument in the memoranda, not the other formal parts.
There are two dear old fellow former colleagues from State Counsel for Offenders working in the writ section of the CCA. 50 pages/15,000 words really should be as much as they should have to read.
Also, if you know an inmate working on a post-conviction writ application, such a person should be encouraged to type or have their application typed. I fear that a convict with a quality reason to get a writ might not get that writ because the handwriting makes the application impossible to read. And it's not just us defense lawyers who feel that way, the opinion editor at the Texas prosecutors' organization expressed the same concern. That organization showed me this opinion. When I wrote this, they had their site down to upgrade over the long weekend.
Ex parte Charles Ray Walton, No. WR-75,599-03,slip. op. (Tex. Crim. App., Jan. 15, 2014), available at http://www.cca.courts.state.tx.us/OPINIONS/PDFOPINIONINFO2.ASP?OPINIONID=25012

Supreme Court of Texas No Longer Requires Paper Courtesy Copies of Documents.

Per Jeff Levinger, Chair of the excellent Appellate Section of the State Bar of Texas, effective immediately the Texas Supreme Court no longer requires courtesy paper copies of electronically filed documents. If you have questions or concerns you can contact Blake A. Hawthorne at SCOTX.