Thursday, January 26, 2012

State of the Judiciary: 4th Court of Appeals, Place 7

The 4th Court of Appeals is one of the 14 Courts of Appeals throughout Texas.  It's that step between the district court, county court level and the Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals level.

The 4th Court covers 32 counties: Atascosa, Bandera, Bexar, Brooks, Dimmit, Duval, Edwards, Frio, Gillespie, Guadalupe, Jim Hogg, Jim Wells, Karnes, Kendall, Kerr, Kimble, Kinney, La Salle, Mason, Maverick, McMullen, Medina, Menard, Real, Starr, Sutton, Uvalde, Val Verde, Webb, Wilson, Zapata, and Zavala.

The 4th Court is comprised of 7 justices: Chief Justice Catherine Stone (D), Justice Marialyn Barnard (R), Justice Rebecca Simmons (R), Justice Steve Hilbig (R), Justice Karen Angelini (R), Justice Sandee Bryan Marion (R), and Justice Phylis Speedlin (R).

Date of Appointment or Year Elected:
Stone, 1994
Barnard, 2009
Simmons, 2005
Hilbig, 2006
Angelini, 1997
Marion, 2002
Speedlin, 2003

This year on the 4th Court of Appeals, 5 seats are up. Barnard (Place 2), Simmons (Place 3), Hilbig (Place 4), Angelini (5), Speedlin (Place 7).

This year Democrats are making a full court press in order to regain their majority on the court.  They've recruited and are preparing to make sure the candidates for these seats have the resources they need.

Only one of the seats will see a Democratic primary, Place 7.  Running in the primary are Rebeca Martinez and Carmen Samaniego.

Rebeca Martinez.  Martinez has been here, but didn't manage to do that.  She ran in 2010 against Marialyn Barnard, winning about 44% of the vote. Martinez is an attorney in San Antonio and according to her website, "...continues to maintain a general civil trial law, family and criminal litigation practice."  She recently secured the endorsement of the San Antonio AFL-CIO.  Martinez may go into the race the slight favorite simply because she has already traveled most of this territory.  What may hold her back is her temperament.  Martinez has been said to be very negative at times and somewhat hard to work with.

One interesting thing to note. In 2006, Democrats missed winning the Place 4 seat on the 4th Court by 8407.  Dan Pozza (D) lost to Steve Hilbig (R): 206,857 to 215,264.  The percentages were 49% to 50.99%.  In 2010, Martinez lost to Barnard: 209,931 to 268,383.  The percentages were 43.88 to 56.11%.  Martinez scored more votes than the best Democrat in 2006, but because of a higher voter turnout, lost.

Carmen Samaniego.  Samaniego is also an attorney in San Antonio and according to her website, "Practicing law in Bexar and surrounding counties, concentrating on probate, elder law and civil litigation, from pre-suit to appeal."

Judicial races are one of the hardest races for anyone to make a choice in.  If it's an open seat and you have 2 attorneys running against each other, how do judge who would be the best?  They're both attorneys, they both have practices, they both have J.D.s, etc.  Sometimes you'll get a candidate who has been an appointed municipal court judge, so at least they can set themselves apart and show judicial experience.

Rebeca Martinez: Contributions: $0; Expenditures: $0; CoH: $0
Carmen Samaniego: Contributions: $17,825; Expenditures: $8,503.39; CoH: $9,952.25

Rebeca Martinez: website, Facebook
Carmen Samaniego: website, Facebook, Twitter

If we were going to give this race a hotness rating, we'd say 2 peppers:

1) Type of race.  Let's face it, judicial races at almost any level don't get the attention they deserve.  What's ironic is how well-funded some judicial races and candidates are, but I digress.  For judicial races, the most interested parties are going to be attorneys and law firms (I know, shocking).  The other group most interested these days are business groups.  About the third most interested would be the political parties.  After that, most voters aren't going to have these types of races on the their front burner.

2) Money. If there is a concerted effort by Democrats and attorneys (as their is rumored to be), this race could heat up; they will pick a candidate in the primary and ensure she gets the nomination.  Let's face, money will heat up almost any race.

All in all, this is a judicial race, which means it already has limited appeal.  Although Martinez enters the race with a name ID advantage, if she hasn't started raising money, the edge then goes to Samaniego.  This race covers a large area, money will be needed.  In 2006, Dan Pozza raised $332,113.70 and spent $327,620.50.

No comments:

Post a Comment