COURT OF APPEALS RACES
2nd COURT OF APPEALS in Fort Worth (serving Archer, Clay, Cooke, Denton, Hood, Jack, Montague, Parker and Tarrant, Wichita, Wise, and Young Counties.) is comprised of seven Justices.
Place 3 is being vacated by Justice Anne Gardner and five Republicans have filed for this seat. No Democrats filed.
The voters in this race must choose between 5 very good candidates. Four of them are AV- Preeminent rated by Martindale Hubbell and all have appellate experience-three on the civil side and two on the criminal side of the bar. We feel that Dabney Bassel and Elizabeth Kerr are the best choices for voters. But no matter who wins the public wins.
Mr. Bassel combines all the ingredients to make a successful run for the Court of Appeals. Raised in San Antonio, he graduated from Trinity University and earned his law degree from Baylor School of Law in 1982. He has extensive appellate experience, having handled the most civil appellate matters of any of the candidates in this race.
He is Board Certified in Civil Appellate Law and is AV Preeminent rated by Martindale-Hubbell. Mr Bassell is a past Vice President of the Tarrant County Bar Association, a membe of the American Law Institute and a member of the Federalist Society.
He is licensed to practice law before the Supreme Court of the United States, the Supreme Court of Texas, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas.
Bassel has been active in Republican affairs in Fort Worth and North Texas and served as a delegate to the Texas State Republican Party Convention.
MARY COLCHIN JOHNDROE
Ms. Johndroe is a partner at Cantey Hanger law firm in Fort Worth. Her practice includes civil litigation, including construction, contract, eminent domain, inverse condemnation, property rights, and government law cases.
She graduated from Baylor University School of Law in 1986 after receiving her B.A. in Sociology from the University of Texas at Arlington in 1979. She is seemingly qualifed but not as well known in legal circles as Bassel and Elizabeth Kerr and among the five candidates in this race has handled the fewest number of appellate matters (twelve) .
She received the highest rating from Martindale Hubbell- AV Preeminent.
Elizabeth "Leza" Kerr, with the Fort Worth firm Friedman, Suder and Cooke, earned a B.A. degree from Rice University in 1978 and then a J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law in 1982. Following law school she served as a briefing attorney for Federal District Judge Lucius D. Bunton, III.
In the 1990s Leza began collaborating on various projects with Bryan A. Garner, the country’s foremost legal-writing expert, who invited her to be a contributing editor to his wholesale rewriting of Black’s Law Dictionary in its 1999 edition. Her areas of practice expertise include busines and commercial litigation, trust and estate litigation and oil and gas litigation.
She is a member of the State Bar of Texas, the Tarrant County Bar Association and former chair of the Appellate Section of the Tarrant County Bar Association as well as being a member of the Business Litigation Section. She is a Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation. Her Courts of Admission include the State Courts of Texas, the U.S. Supreme Court, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and the Northern and Western Federal District Courts of Texas. She is a board member of the Fort Worth Republican Women. She also recieved the highest Peer Review Rating by Martindale-Hubbell of AV/Preeminent.
WILLIAM ANTHONY "ANDY" PORTER
He is a prosecutor with the Tarrant County District Attorney's office. His Courts of Admission listed on the State Bar of Texas website include the U. S. Supreme Court and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. He attended Austin College, graduated cum laude and then earned his J.D. from Drake University (with honors) in 1998. It is believed that this is his first run for public office. He has a good reputation as a prosecutor. At a distance his "ballot name" seems to be the best thing he has going for him.
He is not rated by Martindale Hubbell.
Mr. Ray's practice has been exclusively in criminal law. Of the two candidates in this race coming from a criminal law background he is clearly the more experienced. His website touts over 468 appellate matters before various Texas appellate courts over 30 years.
He is a graduate of Paschal High School in Fort Worth, Texas A&M and St. Mary's School of Law. He served as a briefing Attorney, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals 1985-1986 and Tarrant County Assistant D.A 1986-1990. He is double boarded in Criminal Law and Criminal Appellate Law.
Courts of Admittance include the U.S. Supreme Court, Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, Northern District of Texas, Eastern and Western Districts of Arkansas, and Chickasaw Indian Nation
He was named Texas Super Lawyer 2009-2015 and has earned a Martindale Hubbell rating of AV Preeminent. He is a Fellow of the State Bar of Texas and the Tarrant County Bar Association, Former President and Board Member, Tarrant County Criminal Defense Lawyer’s Association
5th COURT OF APPEALS in Dallas (Collin, Dallas, Rockwall, Kaufman, Grayson and Hunt Counties).
Place 7 - Two Republicans , Justice David John Schenck and David James Hanschen face off in their Primary and the winner will face Democrat Dennise Garcia in the fall.
DAVID JOHN SCHENCK
We strongly urge voters to vote for David John Schenck. Justice Schenck was appointed to the court by Governor Rick Perry on January 7, 2015, to replace Justice Michael O'Neill By all accounts is doing an outstanding job.
Schenck earned his undergraduate from the State University of New York at Albany and his J.D. from Baylor University where he finished first in his class. Following law school Justice Schenck served as a law clerk to Chief Judge Henry Politz of the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
He previously worked for then Attorney General Greg Abbott as deputy attorney general for legal counsel. He filed an amicus brief on behalf of gun rights groups in the 2008 landmark decision where the U.S. Supreme Court struck down District of Columbia restrictions on handgun ownership.
He also had was appointed by Governor Perry to serve on the Texas Lottery Commission. Prior to joining the court, Schenck worked as an attorney in private practice for the law firm of Dykema Gossett PPLC.
He is board certified in Civil Appellate Law and A-V Preeminent rated by Martindale Hubbell.His Courts of Admittance include: US Supreme Court, US Court of International Trade, US Tax Court,Six Federal Circuit Court of Appeals,Five Federal District Courts
He served as President of Republican Lawyers of Dallas and as a delegate to the State and National Republican Conventions and as Co-Chair of Texas Lawyers for Romney and for Texas Lawyers for McCain.
Any informed Republican voter will vote for him, not only because of his qualifications and proven conservative record but because of the stark contrast with his Republican Primary opponent.
DAVID JAMES HANSCHEN
Perhaps hoping to capitalize on voter confusion, David James Hanschen is challenging David John Schenck. Hanschen has had a high profile in Dallas but seldom for reasons that Republican voters would embrace. Hanschen is a self-identifed liberal Democrat. Dallas County voters should be familiar with his name. 2016 will mark the 7th time he has run for judicial office, the first six as a Democrat.
He is not board certified and unrated by Martindale Hubbell.
He surprised most folks when he filed this time at the last minute in the Republican Primary.
His recent social media posts clearly define him as a leftist Democrat and suggest something far removed from the judicial temperment that this position requires.
• "I'm a pro-choice, Obamacare supporting, climate change believing, minimum wage raising, LGBT embracing, immigration reforming, teacher supporting, pay gap eliminating DEMOCRAT"
• In quoting Noam Chomsky on President Ronald Reagan, Hanschen posted this:
"Reagan was a Christo-fascist demagogue, a racist, a killer of gay people, a shameless violator of U.S. and international law, a murderer and a terrorist ..... He will go down in history as the most criminally evil of American Presidents, along side the Chaney-Bush administration."
• About then Attorney General Greg Abbott, Hanschen posted this only 13 months ago:
"I am ashamed to have this pandering clown as governor."
• In another post depicting a map showing the parts of the US that would be under water if all the world's ice melted, he said:
"Well, let's look at the bright side. Most of the U.S. South will be under water! Racist, red neck Christo-fascists be gone!"
• And finally he posted a newspaper story critical of Texas health care and added this quote:
"This is the result of "Tort Reform" and refusing to adopt Obamacare. Republican Bastards."
8th COURT OF APPEALS in El Paso (serving Andrews, Brewster, Crane, Crockett, Culberson, EL Paso, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis, Loving, Pecos, Presidio, Reagan, Reeves, Terrell, Upton, Ward and Winkler Counties.) is comprised of three justices.
DEMOCRATIC PARTY PRIMARY
Incumbent Justice Steven Hughes is facing four challengers in the Democratic Primary. There is no Republican filed for this seat. A runoff is likely.
Steven Hughes appears to be the best choice for Democratic Primary voters in this race. Justice Hughes is being challenged by four other candidates in the Democratic Primary, Even though he calls himself a "proud Democrat", Justice Steven Hughes was appointed to this seat by Gov. Perry in October, 2014, after applying for the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Guadalupe Rivera. It is assumed that Perry could not find a Republican willing to take the appointment and then probably lose in 2016 to whomever the Democrats nominated since this is a strongly Democratic district.
Hughes is a native of Big Spring, Texas, and attended Texas Tech University earning both a Bachelor's degree (1975) and Master's degree (1976) in applied music. He continued his education in the doctoral programs in music at the University of Minnesota and the University of North Texas. He abruptly changed career paths by attending the University of Texas School of Law where he graduated (with honors) in 1985.
After law school, Justice Hughes served as a briefing attorney for Chief Justice Clarence Guittard on the Dallas Court of Appeals. He then practiced for 28 years in El Paso handling hundreds of appeals in state and federal court.
Board certified in Civil Appellate Law
Named a Texas Super Lawyer in appellate law (2005-2014)
Top 50 Central/West Texas Super Lawyer in 2014
Listed in Best Lawyers in America (2012-2015)
Received Martindale Hubbell's highest rating- AV Preeminent.
GENA M. PALAFOX
Ms. Georgena Marie "Gina" Palafos is an attorney in solo private practice in El Paso.
She graduated from Pepperdine University School of Law in 1987.
Previously in private practice with a broad general practice, including medical malpractice, she currently is listed as employed by the Compliance Department at University Medical Center in El Paso.
She received the second highest Martindale Hubbell rating of BV Distinguished.
Her Courts of Admittance are listed as: U.S. Supreme Court, Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, Illinois Northern District Court and Texas Western District Court.
Mr. Robert Joseph Perez is a practicing attorney in El Paso. He notes his practice areas include Personal Injury, Civil Rights, Federal Criminal Trials and Appeals and Taxation while his State Bar of Texas practice profile pages lists only criminal law.
Received his J.D. degree from the University of Michigan in 1985 and is rated BV Distinguished by Martindale Hubbell. Courts of Admittance: U.S. Supreme Court, Fifth and Tenth Circuit Court of Appeal, Texas Western District Court
Judge Maria Bertha Ramirez has a private law practice in El Paso along with serving as an Associate Municipal Judge. She received her law degree from Indiana University after competing undergraduate work at the University of Texas at El Paso, earning a B.S. degree.She lists her practice areas as Criminal, Family, Wills, Trusts, Probate and Appellate.
Courts of Admittance: US Supreme Court, Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, Texas Western District Court
Mr. Vazques is another solo practitioner in El Paso and specializes in Business, Immigration and International law. He earned his law degree from Creighton University in 1994 and joined the State Bar of Texas in 1995. He received the second highest Martindale Hubbell rating of BV Distinguished.
Courts of admittance: Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, Texas Northern District Court, Texas Southern District/Bankruptcy Court, Texas Western District Court
13th COURT OF APPEALS in Corpus Christi (and Edinburg) (serving Aransas, Bee, Calhoun, Cameron, DeWitt, Goliad, Gonzales, Hidalgo, Jackson, Kenedy, Kleberg, Lavaca, Live Oak, Matagorda, Nueces, Refugio, San Patricio, Victoria, Wharton and Willacy Counties) consists of six Justices. Only one seat is up in 2016. Republican Incumbent Justice Greg Perkes is running unopposed in the Republican Primary and will face the winner in the Democratic Primary race between Carlos Valdez and Letitia Hinojosa.
Mr. Valdes has a long history serving in local government. After receiving his J.D. from the University of Oklahoma Law School, he was an Assistant County Attorney in 1981, County Attorney from 1985 to 1992 and Nueces County District Attorney from 1993 to 2010. More recently he served as Corpus Christi City Attorney.
Aside from his long career in politics, he is well known for prosecuting Tejano star Selena Quintanalla's killer 20 years ago.
He received the highest rating from Martindale Hubbelll- AV Preeminent.
The one blemish on his resume is his loss last year when he ran for the County Court at Law#4 bench.
Judge Hinojosa graduated from High School in Brownsville and earned a B.A. in government from the University of Texas, graduating Magna cum laude. She received her J.D. from the University of Texas School of law in 1981. Her law practice is located in Edinburg.
She was elected to the Hidalgo County Court at Law #4 in 1989, becoming the first Latina Judge to be elected in the Rio Grande Valley, and reelected to that bench before winning two terms on the 139th District Court in Hidalgo County. She held that seat until 2004, when she unsuccessfully sought the Democratic primary nomination for Congress against U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin.
She does not list any Courts of Admittance on her page at the State Bar of Texas.
14th COURT OF APPEALS in Houston (Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Colorado, Fort Bend, Galveston, Grimes, Harris, Waller, and Washington Counties) There are nine seats on this court.
There are Primary contests for both parties in the open Place 2 seat being vacated by retiring Democratic Justice Sharon McCally.
REPUBLICAN PARTY PRIMARY
Republican voters would do well to cast their vote for Jewell. His record of appellate experience is unparalled. His resume is impressive and he espouses a conservative judicial philosophy. His opponent seemingly lacks the appellate experience that Jewell would bring to the court. It will be a major surprise Jewell does not win the upcoming Houston and State Bar Polls. One would also expect him to garner the lion's share of newspaper endorsements and will win other significant endorsements.
Graduated Grapevine High School, Class of 1986
University of Texas at Austin, B.B.A., 1990, high honors
University of Houston Law Center, J.D., 1993
Board Certified in Civil Appellate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, 1998
Equity shareholder at 100+ attorney, member of firm executive committee
22 years experience handling state and federal appeals
Presented well over 100 oral arguments in state and federal appellate courts, and
Argued in all fourteen intermediate Texas appellate courts, and the Fifth, Tenth and DC Federal Circuit Courts.
Argued in the Fifth, Tenth, and D.C. federal Circuits
Argued ten cases in the Texas Supreme Court (and briefed in more than ten others)
Courts of Admittance: U.S. Supreme Court, Supreme Court of Texas, six U.S. Courts of Appeals and five United States District Courts
Recognized as Texas Super Lawyer 2005-present
Member, Houston Bar Association (appellate section), Texas Bar Association (appellate section), American Bar Association, Fifth Circuit Bar Association, Federal Circuit Bar Association, Federalist Society
Eagle Scout, 1982
Albertus F. "Bud" Wiesedeppe, III ran for the 164th District Court in 2012 and after doing poorly in the Houston Bar pool did equally poorly at the ballot box.
During his 2012 campaign the Houston Chronicle reported that he (and Robert Talton) had received significant contributions from lawyers representing strip clubs in Houston. Four lawyers representing "Treasures" gave Wiesedeppe $14,800. "Treasures" was involved in a ongoing lawsuit in the 164th District Court, the court Wiesedeppe was running for. Another attorney representing "adult clubs" in Houston gave Wiesedeppe an additional $2000. That total of $16,800 represented half of the money Wiesedeppe reported receiving that reporting period.
Wiesedeppe graduated from Sherman High School and attended Kansas State University where he earned a B.S. in Political Science and Philosophy. He subsequently earned a law degree at Southern Methodist School of Law.
He espouses a conservative judicial philosopy, just as his Repubican opponent Kevin Jewell does. He lists his practice as business, construction and appellate:civil law. A case search of appellate cases in Texas reveals only one case that was dismissed without argument. On his State Bar of Texas practice profile page he reported no Courts of Admittance.
He is unrated by Martindale Hubbell and not board certified.
DEMOCRATIC PARTY PRIMARY
Candance J. White is listed on the State Bar of Texas website as a government lawyer specializing in ADR, Family, Government/Administrative, Law Office Management, Wills-Trusts-Probate, Elder Law, and Juvenile law.
She received her J.D. from the University of Texas School of law in 1993 and her Masters of Law from University of Houston School of Law in 2001.
She has no visible footprint on the internet and little is known about her.
Democratic voters in this district should find out more about her and if her qualifications are at least reasonable she should get their vote since her opponent Jim Sharp has enough baggage to fill a railway baggage car.
IN SHORT--BAD NEWS
James Patrick Sharp, Jr. was elected to the First Court of Appeals in November 2008 as part of the Democratic sweep in Harris County that year. He was probably also boosted by sharing the same last name with John Sharp, one of the last bright stars in the Texas Democratic Party. He ran for re-election in 2014 un-opposed in the Democratic Primary but lost to current Republican Justice Russel Lloyd. That came after the Houston Chronicle had recommended that Justice Sharp not be reelected because of his disciplinary record while on the appellate bench. Sharp received a Public Reprimand by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct. (followed by a like resolution by a special court of inquiry assembled by the Texas Supreme Court)
Sharp's antics included jumping on his desk and having his picture taken by a photographer for the Houston Chronicle, removing furniture under cover of darkness without facility management approval, and picking a fight with security personnel at the courthouse merely because they would not let him bypass the metal detector screening without showing his badge (something that they were required to do). Those incidents were mild compared to what was to come.
In 2012, Justice Sharp was barred from hearing a neighboring county's cases in a dispute over a shoplifting charge against a friend's daughter. Sharp faced allegations of trying to use his influence to help a friend's 15-year-old daughter. The girl was arrested January 17, 2012 for allegedly shoplifting nearly $190 worth of merchandise. In a voice mail to a state district court judge in Brazoria County, Sharp ranted, "If I had been there in person and had a baseball bat, that (expletive) would have been cracked upside the head." Sharp went on to call Brazoria County authorities as "a bunch of backwoods hillbillies" and promising that "things are going to change" in that county south of Houston because nobody jumped or saluted when he first butted in on the shoplifting matter. Brazoria County District Attorney Jeri Yenne alleged Sharp attempted to improperly demand the juvenile's release and sent inappropriate texts and voice messages to county employees. Yenne filed a complaint with the State Commission on Judicial Conduct and asked that Sharp be recused from Brazoria County cases. The appeals court agreed.
From a Houston Chronicle Editorial in 2012: -- Perhaps most tellingly, Sharp blasted county employees for addressing him as "Mr. Sharp" rather than as judge. "Brazoria County juvie folks are nit (sic) just arrogant but ignorant!" Sharp texted. "When an appeals court justice calls and identifies himself and then they refer to me as 'Mr.' Sharp, it bespeaks a fundamental misunderstanding of respect and pecking order."
Sharp graduated from South Texas College of Law in Houston after attending the University of Texas at Austin as an undergraduate. He is unrated by Martindale Hubbell and not board certified.
Sharp's listing with the State Bar of Texas says he is with the firm of Schneider, Wallace Cottrell, Konecky and Wotkyns, a personal injury plaintiff's firm specializing in class action suits. But their current website does not list Sharp as being one of their attorneys.