HCDP Judicial Candidates: Who Are These People?

The Harris County Democratic Party has announced its slate of candidates for criminal courts for the 2010 elections. First the District Court (felony) benches:

Darrell Jordan, opposing Debbie Mantooth-Stricklin (whose husband Don lost to Herb Ritchie last year) for the 180th District Court, is a lawyer with three years of experience in a general practice. I’m not sure which of these (aggressive!) guys is Darrell. [EDIT: Darrell is a member of HCCLA.]

Brandon Dudley, running against Jeanine Barr for the 182nd District Court, has five years of experience as Texas Senator Rodney Ellis’s Chief of Staff / Legal Counsel. He may have other experience as well.

Yolanda Coroy, challenging Vanessa Velasquez, one of the best district court judges we have right now, for the 183rd District Court, is an experienced (16 years worth) lawyer and judicial candidate with a solo criminal defense practice. She is an HCCLA member.

Jay Burnett, formerly judge of the 183rd District Court, running for the 184th against Jan Krocker, is a longtime criminal-defense lawyer. He’s been practicing law for almost as long as I’ve been breathing air. He’s the president of the Board of Directors of the Gulf Regional Advocacy Center (GRACe). He’s also an HCCLA member.

Vivian King, seeking the 185th District Court bench, which is now occupied by Susan Brown, is a seasoned criminal-defense lawyer as well, in practice for 17 years. (We’ve had her on Reasonable Doubt.) She seems to wind up at the heart of lots of storms. Vivian takes court-apponted cases, and has been approved to be appointed to death penalty cases in Harris County. She’s also an HCCLA member.

Loretta Muldrow, runnng for the 208th District Court against Denise Collins, is another longtime criminal-defense lawyer (25 years), and Alvin Nunnery’s law partner. They have a large court-appointed docket. Loretta is also on the list of qualified counsel for death penalty cases, and is an HCCLA member.

Kathy Cheng, looking to unseat Mike McSpadden in the 209th, is a 9-year lawyer with a business, consumer, labor-employment, taxation, wills-trusts-probate, and elder law practice.

Walter Boyd III, contesting Marc Carter’s seat on the 228th, has been in practice for 25 years. He’s got transactional litigation and white collar criminal defense experience. (There are two Walter Boyds in the criminal courthouse; I’m pretty sure the candidate isn’t this one.)

Raymond Fisher, running for the 230th, which is now held by Belinda Hill, has been practicing since 1975. The Harris County Justice Information Management System shows him as hired counsel on many cases in misdemeanor and felony courts. I don’t know that I could put a face to the name.

David Mitcham, also running for the 230th, is an HCCLA member, ex-president, and current board member. He’s been practicing since 1979 as a prosecutor and a criminal-defense lawyer. He’s board certified in criminal law. He’s vehemently opposed to the creation of a PD’s Office in Harris County.

Greg Glass, challenging Mary Lou Keel for the 232nd, is also board certified in criminal law. He’s been practicing for 36 years. His law partner, Herb Ritchie, was elected to the 337th District Court bench last year. He’s an HCCLA member.

Trent Gaither, running for the 248th, which is now held by Joan Campbell, is a criminal-defense lawyer who’s been practicing for 23 years. He’s also an HCCLA member.

Roland Dahlin, running for the 262nd against Mike Anderson (whose wife Devon lost the 177th District Court to Kevin Fine last year), has been a lawyer since 1967. He is the retired longtime Federal Public Defender for the Southern District of Texas.

Alvin Nunnery, running for the 263rd District Court against Jim Wallace, is a criminal-defense lawyer in practice since 1982 and, as noted above, Loretta Muldrow’s law partner. He is also on the death penalty qualification list. Alvin is an HCCLA member.

Now the County Court (misdemeanor) benches:

Anthony Limitone, running for Court 1, which is now held by Reagan Cartwright Helm, is a 26-year lawyer who, according to JIMS, has taken 339 court-appointed misdemeanor cases in the last couple of years. JIMS does not show that he has tried any of those 339 cases.

Farrah Martinez, also running for Court 1, is a four-year lawyer who the State Bar says works at the Harris County District Clerk’s Office. She’s an HCCLA member.

Mary Acosta, running for Court 2, which is now held by Bill Harmon, I can’t find on the State Bar’s website. She’s a criminal-defense lawyer who’s been practicing at least as long as I have, and is an HCCLA member.

Miles LeBlanc, also running for Court 2, has been practicing for 25 years, and is now a lawyer for the Houston Independent School District. He’s an HLS graduate and a “SuperLawyer” in the area of school law. JIMS lists him as the lawyer in four criminal cases in the mid-80s.

Judith Snively, seeking the bench in Court 3, currently held by Donald Jackson is a 22-year lawyer in solo criminal defense practice. She’s an HCCLA member. JIMS shows an exclusively court-appointed misdemeanor docket; she’s also the “Managing Broker of International Home Brokerage.”

Al Leal, running for Court 4, which is currently held by Jim Anderson, who is retiring, is a former judge; he’s been in practice since 1973 and is now a criminal-defense lawyer. Judge Leal is an HCCLA member.

Adrian Almaguer, running for Court 5 against Margaret Harris, has been licensed since 1990. He’s a criminal-defense lawyer, and an HCCLA member.

Alfred Valdez, also running for Court 5, has been practicing since 1984. Eighty percent of his law practice involves civil litigation. The State Bar doesn’t list a licensed lawyer named Alfred R. Valdez, the name he uses on his website.

Oshea Spencer, running for Court 6 against Larry Standley, the best damn judge in the courthouse, is a Fort Bend County felony sex crimes prosecutor who, before that, was a prosecutor in the Bronx.

I can’t find anything about Sheila Acosta (seeking the bench in Court 7 against Pam Derbyshire) online.

Jeff Strange, contesting Jay Karahan for Court 8, is another Fort Bend County prosecutor, an 18-year-lawyer whose proudest moment in a prosecutor’s office was getting a groundbreaking wiretap order that helped the police solve a murder case (does he like long walks on the beach? we’ll have to wait for the next issue of the TDCAA magazine to find out).

Juanita Barner, running for Court 9 against Analia Wilkerson is a criminal-defense lawyer in practice for 11 years, and as an HCCLA member.

Sylvia Pubchara, also running for Court 9, is also a criminal-defense lawyer, a former Fort Bend County Prosecutor and a neighbor of mine in the Heights. She ran for a District Court bench last year and, despite the Chronicle’s endorsement, was defeated in the primary. She’s an HCCLA member.

Grant Hardeway, running for Court 10 against Sherman Ross, is another criminal-defense lawyer, a 36-year veteran of the criminal courthouse.

Lori Gray is also running for Court 10. She’s got 20 years of experience.

Mark Diaz, running for Court 11 against Diane Bull, is an 11-year lawyer with (according to the State Bar) a general solo practice. According to his webpage (which is a classic example of Yellow Pages writ large), though, he’s just a criminal-defense lawyer.

Cheryl Diggs, one of the two Democratic candidates for Court 12, now held by Robyn Brown, is also an 11-year lawyer with a general solo practice. She was an HCCLA member, but her membership has lapsed.

Jim Sullivan, the other candidate for Court 12, has been practicing for 15 years and is a criminal-defense lawyer with board certification in juvenile law. He’s an HCCLA member.

Dennis Slate, running for Court 13 against Mark Atkinson, has been practicing for 8 years in a general practice. He’s an HCCLA member.

Lee Harper Wilson, seeking the Court 14 bench against Mike Fields, has been practicing for 29 years in a general practice. He’s board certified in criminal law.

Toni Ingverson, running for Court 15 (now held by Jeanne Hughes) might as well be a fictional character. The State Bar has no record of her under that name, and The Google turns up nothing.
[Edit: here she is. Dumbass me didn’t think to search by her unusual surname. Thanks to alert reader Leif for politely steering me in the right direction.]

It’s not going to matter in 17 months who is running for which bench – the qualifications of the candidates don’t have much effect on the downballot races. But it’ll matter in 19 months if the Democrats take over the misdemeanor courts. With some of these candidates I’ve got to wonder, “what on earth was the Democratic Party thinking?”

I’m not surprised that the party had to leave Harris County to find lawyers willing to run against Larry Standley and Jay Karahan, but couldn’t it have gone a little farther afield and found actual criminal trial lawyers to run for all of the benches that hear criminal trials?

Elder Law. School law. Rah! Rah! Rah!

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0 responses to “HCDP Judicial Candidates: Who Are These People?”

  1. Yikes!

    Are you sure its not the same Walter Boyd? Years ago there was a criminal defense attorney by that name, but he would be in his 80’s now.

  2. What makes you think it’s not the “crazy” Walter Boyd? That one was on the D crim dist crt ballot in 2006 and he’s still around the courthouse. (IMO of course) It would be a serious disaster if he took the bench away from Marc Carter.

    [disclaimer – I’ve been a Dem all my adult life] I’m amazed/distressed at some of these candidates. I’m as qualified as a lot of them, and I’d be a disaster. Did the party actually recruit any of them or did they just take who showed up? I know that Lee Arellano chaired a screening committee for judicial races – if they really reviewed candidates I’m seriously disappointed in many of the possible nominees. But I guess the party doesn’t have a couple dozen Judge Burnetts eager to run.

    • Jim, the candidate is Walter A. Boyd III, who has a website and has been practicing for 25 years. He’s the candidate, and I think he’s married to Tina Salem.

      There is a Walter E. Boyd in Houston who has been practicing for almost 50 years and has no address listed in the State Bar website. He is the one mentioned in the Legal Trade post to which I linked.

      • I hope you’re right. If I see the “other” Walter Boyd around the courthouse, I’ll ask. Either way, I’d be disappointed if Marc Carter lost. btw, it’s not a given that the Democrats will sweep in 2010. 2008 was close and the Ds turnout in nonpresidential years falls off much more than the Rs, at least according to Richard Murray.

        Fickman’s rant on the listserv last night expressed my thoughts on this better than I have. I may ask him if I can post it here.

  3. Is Darrell Jordan even eligible to be a district court judge given that he’s been a member of the bar for three years? Maybe he was licensed elsewhere before passing the Texas bar. Like Steve Mansfield.

    Do you have any info on the appellate court races?

    • I think the requirement is four years at the time a judge takes office. If so, he would qualify.

  4. What is really sad is that HCCLA did nothing to make sure that so called qualified people ran for office. The upcoming election was not a secret. Many experienced lawyers showed their ignorance of the democratic process by saying Jerry Birnberg selected unqualified people. Just an FYI, in America anyone who meets the criteria can run for office despite what any party chair says about it. I would never discourage someone for wanting to be a public servant if I were not willing myself to step up and be part of the solution. The courts today have many judges that have been licensed for 20 plus years yet the laws are interpreted differently in each court. Is that justice? How many years do you need to practice before you learn how to read the law and apply it without bias? Someone has to stand up for justice and if no one wants to give up their lucrative practice of court appointments and serve the people of Texas then be quiet and get out of the way of those who do. The title of this posting should have been “I’m embarrassed that these are the only people that are willing to step up and run for office.”

    • Yes, it’s an embarrassment. Fortunately, it’s not too late for competent people to run for the bench; I had toyed with running as a Libertarian, but I may run as a Democrat to try to plug a hole in the lineup.

      • That would be great Mark, I know I’d love you to be a part of our ticket. The combined campaign, I’m sure would welcome you with open arms.

      • I’d support you, too, and I’d even give you some money. Still, what was it you said about people who wanted to be judges?

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