National Politics


Other blawgs aspire to be apolitical.

Not Defending People.

Everything we do is about politics — the way groups make decisions. There is nothing more political than trying to convince twelve jurors that we have the right side of a dispute. Seen up close, trial lawyering is pure politics.

On a slightly larger scale, we deal with the politics of the elected officials we deal with. In Texas, both judges and district attorneys are elected in partisan elections; criminal-defense lawyers must consider how partisan politics might play into judges’ decisions, as well as prosecutors’.

On an even larger scale, national politics affect local politics. An extreme example is barreling down on us in November: the Democratic Party has a full slate of judges running against Republican incumbents in the criminal courts. Voters don’t generally know one judge from another. If the Democratic Party wins in Harris County, then the incumbent judges are out; if the Republican Party wins in Harris County, then the incumbents (along with the Republican nominee for the one bench that’s coming open and for the office of District Attorney) are back in.

Judges should not be elected in partisan elections; several of the judges up for reelection are worthy of their office despite their Republicanism. Nonetheless, a Democratic sweep would have a salutary effect in Harris County. For as long as I’ve been a lawyer, Republican County judges haven’t had to worry about being unseated by Democrats. If they boughtgot the endorsement of the Republican power brokers (especially Steven Hotze), they were assured another four years on the bench. Our public servants — especially the elected ones — should never be so secure in their jobs that they can stop caring about serving the public.

So my view of the best Democratic candidate for president is informed by my read on the effect that each candidate would have in Harris County. In my untutored opinion, if Hillary Clinton is the nominee the right wing of the Republican Party will mobilize to vote against her, and the Republicans will probably hold on to Harris County. If Barack Obama is the nominee, on the other hand, Democratic turnout will be huge, and might be enough to turn the tide.

In the words of one judge, “If Obama is the Democratic candidate, we [incumbents] are screwed.”

Amen.


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