CCCL3: Anyone But Sharolyn Wood


I may build up more interest in this year’s criminal court elections in Harris County, but for right now, this is what irks me:

Sharolyn Wood, who claimed after the election in 2008 that an “unspoken agreement” that experienced judges not be challenged was “tossed out,” is now running for County Criminal Court At Law Number 3 in the Republican primary against experienced criminal lawyers Cary Hart, Joe Licata, and Natalie Flemming.

Set aside the fact that the self-entitlement of 2007 is not what we need in the criminal courthouse in 2011. Wood has, it appears, zero criminal-law experience. None. Zilch. My dog has more criminal-law experience than Sharolyn Wood.

So the irksome bit: this attitude of civil lawyers like Sharolyn Wood who, knowing nothing about criminal practice, think it’s a good idea to come over to 1201 Franklin and start practicing criminal law. I think the idea is symptomatic of a materialistic deviancy that holds fighting over money more important than fighting over freedom.

Pat Lykos brought some civil lawyers into the DA’s Office, people like The Lateral Hire. They are mostly harmless, avoiding the courtrooms where humans’ fates are decided.

Since the insurance companies got tort deform passed, we’ve had more and more newbies of a particular type at the Criminal Justice Center, former personal injury lawyers who, no longer able to make a living suing, have branched out to representing people in bet-your-freedom litigation. Unfortunately, they are easily identified by their clueless demeanors and—worse—their unwillingness to approach for advice those who have been defending people for years or decades. They are walking violations of the Sixth Amendment.

If Sharolyn Wood gets her way, we’ll have another criminal-law newbie in the criminal court, this time on the bench. Even compared to the one-client-at-a-time harm that a civil lawyer slumming in the trenches of the criminal courthouse can do, the damage that a civil lawyer on the criminal bench might do is horrific.

In November 2008 Sharolyn Wood whinged about the voters tossing out 250 years of judicial experience; let’s hope against hope that the Republican primary voters don’t succumb to materialistic deviancy, and have the good sense to choose one of the more-experienced criminal lawyers running for Court 3 over totally unqualified Sharolyn Wood.

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0 responses to “CCCL3: Anyone But Sharolyn Wood”

  1. Mark, just relish how lucky you are that your judges run for defined practice areas. Our judges are elected to sit in any court: family, civil, criminal, dependency…and often move freely among the free. In fact, when a judge is viewed as too liberal or sympathetic, the DA will often place a blanket paper on them and move them into civil.

    I think the reform needed more than Pattis’ well intentioned daydream is that we need to do away with the fiction that lawyers are lawyers. I wouldn’t have the slightest clue what I was doing in a civil courtroom nor would I ever venture there without guidance. Lawyers (or judges) who have no experience should somehow be marked with a corresponding scarlet letter.

    There have been proposals to eliminate the third year of law school and make it more of an apprenticeship, which could be a great idea. I think we should take it a step further. Before lawyers practice by themselves in a practice area, they should have to practice at least one (maybe 2?) years under someone who is a qualified lawyer in that field.

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