Ch- Ch- Ch- Ch- Changes

I don’t talk politics here, but it’s hard to ignore what happened to the intermediate Texas appellate courts last night. Statewide, dozens of incumbent justices—many of whom are great at their jobs and deserved to keep them—were swept out of office, some by challengers who are either completely unknown or who have little to no experience representing clients before appellate courts.

The new justices will have to learn fast. “New judges school” and those left behind will have their hands full educating them on the finer points of their new jobs. I think we can expect delays in almost every aspect of the courts’ work and, unfortunately, panels to be divided along party lines. The Texas Supreme Court—which remains all-Republican and will not change composition come January 1—will feel the effects too.

In this new reality, I think the role of experienced appellate practitioners will be more significant than ever. We are most effective when we assist courts in understanding the case, the law, and how to reach a reasoned outcome faithful to both. Though change is hard, I plan to continue doing just that.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Piano Piano!

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Craig Ball says:

    This isn’t the first time–or even the second or third time–this has occurred. Did not the Democrats see the down ballot wave and field some competent replacements?

    • Maybe so, Craig, but it’s been a while. It’s quite striking here in Austin because four of the Third Court’s six seats are changing over.

      I can’t speak for the politics in Dallas and Houston. Here in Austin, only two of the Democratic candidates ran active races actively backed by the party. The other two are complete unknowns.

      In all these areas, though, neither qualifications or the effort (or lack thereof) going into one’s campaign mattered one bit.