Monday, February 27, 2012

Order in the Court: Race for the 57th District Court

57th Judicial District

Primary Outlook: Arteaga Likely

General Election Outlook: Tossup - Lean Democratic

This particular court is noteworthy simply because of who previously served as Judge...Congressman Charlie Gonzalez.  He served as district judge from 1989-1997, when he resigned to run for the 20th Congressional District.

In 1998, Republican Pat Boone (not the singer) won this seat.  He beat Barbara Nellermoe who would later go on to win her current position as Judge of the 45th District Court.  Boone held this seat until he retired in 2008.

That year the current Judge, Toni Arteaga, won.

Who's running?

Toni Arteaga.  The current judge is running for re-election.  As previously noted, she won this seat in 2008.  She was actually a replacement candidate for Democrats after perennial candidate and perennial embarrassment Lauro Bustamante was kicked off the ballot.  He's actually on the ballot again this year, and if there ever was a candidate who Democrats should ask, "What is your price for never running for office again?" this is one of them.  But I digress.

Arteaga has so far been endorsed by SAPOA, Deputy Sheriffs' Association, and the Firefighters.

Buddy Barretto.  There's not much to report on Barretto.  Obviously he's an attorney.  He previously served with the firm Sinkin and Barretto (now Sinkin and Marvel).  The rumor mill at the courthouse is that he is mainly challenging Arteaga because of an ego problem...Arteaga's not Barretto's.  Apparently some lawyers at the courthouse feel that Arteaga thinks too highly of herself as Judge.

To this point of contention that a judge is not well-liked by attorneys let me do a little editorializing in favor of Arteaga.  So a judge isn't well-liked by attorneys, big deal.  There was a 2005 survey from the San Antonio Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (SACDLA puts out surveys of the various judges).  That particular survey got a response rate of 20%.  Surveys were sent to 4,645 attorneys and 942 responded.  In 2010, their survey was sent to 5,122 attorneys and got a response from 812 attorneys.  That was a response rate of 16% (15.8% to be specific).  To put it mildly, we're not getting a full picture.

Back to the 2005 survey.  In the judicial temperament category and in the overall performance category the judge who ranked the worst was Andy Mireles.  I think there are numerous people who might dispute that assessment.  For judicial temperament only 30% said he showed good temperament. In terms of actual numbers, 283 thought he showed good judicial temperament versus about 659 who say otherwise.

If it isn't already clear, I think challenging a judge mainly because he or she thinks highly of themselves is kind of ridiculous.  If you're going to challenge a sitting judge give me some concrete reasons to throw them out.  Is the judge making bad decisions from the bench?  Is the judge continually overturned on appeal?  And since we elect judges by party, is the judge embarrassing the party?

Needless to say, it's obvious who I am voting for in the primary.  I'm not privy to courthouse gossip, and having met Judge Arteaga on numerous occasions she's a very nice, personable, and pleasant person and I find nothing that makes me want to vote against her.

Arteaga: Contributions: $26,624; Expenditures: $33,656.15; CoH: $107,743.61
Barretto:  Contributions: $50; Expenditures: $24; CoH: $2,526

Arteaga: website, Facebook

Overall, we give this race 2 peppers:

Like with the 37th Judicial race, the reasons are very much the same:

1) Race.  This is a judicial race.  This type of race is on very few radars.  Those most interested are of course attorneys and law firms.  Next are probably those in the business community.  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.  So far the money is going to one candidate.

This race, like most judicial races, is flying below most radars.  Arteaga has the big advantage.  She's an incumbent judge, a woman in a county that likes to elect women, the money is flowing to her, and she has a huge cash on hand advantage.  As stated at the top, Arteaga Likely.

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