Tag Archives: Texas Judges

A Justice for Sale in Austin?

A Republican candidate for the Third Court of Appeals in Austin is stretching what are traditionally considered the limits for appropriate campaigning.  Mike Toth a card carrying Tea Party member and protégé of embattled AG Ken Paxton is embracing Donald Trump and conservative identity politics in his campaign for a seat on the influential Austin Court of Appeals.  Despite being in Austin, the Court is firmly in Republican hands because it covers a 28 county area stretching all the way to San Angelo.  Toth is also accepting contributions in excess of the standard $5000 limit.  Judicial candidates in Texas typically pledge to not accept contributions over $5000 as anything more than that gives the appearance of buying justice.  Toth is apparently blowing through that limit and accepting gifts of money for the education of his children from a Florida lawyer, as well as embracing our Realty TV Show President.  The Texas Tribune has more.

Candidate Michael Toth, a special counsel in the office of Attorney General Ken Paxton, has pulled in $151,000 so far in the 3rd Court of Appeals GOP primary contest, and more than a third of it comes from out of state, records show.

[O]ne of Toth’s major non-Texas donors, former hedge fund manager John Thaler of Greenwich, Connecticut, has notified the Texas Ethics Commission that he plans to exceed a $5,000 expenditure cap the candidates agreed to; that allows Toth’s opponents to ignore donation and expenditure limits.

Toth isn’t shy about touting his Tea Party bonafides and running on the same issues that non-judicial candidates use to attract Republican primary voters. In one mailer, Toth brags that he fought for “tougher border security, defended President Trump’s travel ban, sued to crack down on sanctuary cities” and “supported extreme vetting of refugees.”

Former Texas Supreme Court Justice Tom Phillips, a Republican, said he’d “never seen anything quite like” the mailer Toth sent out.

“I’m concerned anytime a judicial candidate suggests, even indirectly, that his or her election will lead to a particular policy outcome,” Phillips said. “To conduct a campaign based on your view of hot-button political issues confuses rather than than enlightens the electorate.”

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Two Texas Judges Leave GOP – Will the Trickle Become a Flood?

In the past two weeks, two Texas judges have said, “Enough” to the Tea Party dominated Texas GOP.  First Terry Jennings of the First Court of Appeals in Houston switched to the Democrats.  According to Jennings:

 “The Democratic party- and the Democratic party alone- presents our country with a positive and optimistic vision for the future of all Americans, not just a select few.”

Then this week, Judge Lauren Parish of the 115th Judicial District which serves Upshur and Marion Counties returned to the fold.  Parish had served as a Democrat but changed teams as those  rural counties turned more and more red.  Parish cited her Christian values in making the decision to return to the Democratic Party.

“The Grand Old Party of Lincoln no longer exists today. The current Republican Party has abandoned all the principles instilled in me by my parents, my church and my community.

I was brought up to respect my fellow man and to respect authority, to love my neighbor, to help those who cannot help themselves, and to help build people up not tear people down.

I see no way of reconciling my Christian beliefs with the manner in which the Republican Party is conducting itself. That is why I feel compelled to stand up and come back to the Texas Democratic Party.”

Almost too predictably, the Republican powers that be in Upshur County are now contemplating suing Parish after she issued an order making it easier for prospective jurors to do their civic duty.  Parish ordered the court house to be opened at 7:30 on jury days with the metal detector operating.  That got up the hackles of the Tea Party controlled county government and the county commissioners have hired an Austin law firm to investigate whether to sue Parish.

Red doubts that this signifies a larger trend.  It may be that some RINO judges in Harris County join Jennings in abandoning the GOP ship, but it seems unlikely right now.  If the Democrats sweep in November, Red may be singing a different tune.