In Race for Texas’ Top Criminal Court, Politics is Central

A race for a seat on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the state’s highest court for criminal matters, is spilling over with so many personal and political attacks that it seems highly and transparently politicized, The Houston Chroniclereports. The article is headlined, “Candidates cite politics as key to criminal court race.”

The incumbent, Judge Larry Meyers, is the only Democratic statewide official standing in the entire state. Three Republicans are running to oppose him: District Court Judges Mary Lou Keel, Ray Wheless and Chris Oldner. Some of the attacks: the Democrat likens the GOP to the “Donner Party”; Keel calls Wheless “deceptive and inaccurate” and “pandering,” and Oldner portrays him as “somebody who just regurgitates tea party lines”; Wheless says of the others, “I am the recognized conservative in the race, and that is why Judge Oldner and Judge Keel can’t get any conservatives.”

Criminal defense attorney Dick DeGuerin called the court “dysfunctional,” with some members hating each other. “It’s a combination of personalities and the political aspect of it,” DeGuerin added. “Unfortunately, it’s more pandering for the votes than it is running on a platform of being fair and upholding the law.”

Lack of interest, and understanding, by voters about the court also was mentioned in the article: Defense lawyer Brian Wice “said he was more confident the average Houstonian could name all the Kardashian sisters than one member of the top criminal court. ‘There’s greater transparency for the typical Texan in selecting a pope than in selecting a Court of Criminal Appeals judge.'”