Saturday, May 24, 2008

Justice, Texas Style

Now I fully admit that I am a foreigner to these parts. I come from a land of milk and honey. Of bread and circuses. Of dates and nuts. I come from Southern California. In California judges are elected, just as they are here in Texas. But when Californians elect judges, they may or may not know what their party affiliation is.

In California, all judges run in non-partisan elections.

In Texas, we have non-partisan elections as well. Our school board elections are non-partisan. So are our water board elections. The thing is, here in Texas, even when the party affiliation of a candidate for non-partisan office is not stated, everyone seems to go out of their way to find out how they vote anyway.

So Texas is like that.

In Texas we like our judges with partisan stripes, and we generally like those stripes to be red in color. Not burgundy red mind you, not cerise, but full out neoconservative red.

I imagine that neoconservatives in judges’ robes must give Texans some security and comfort. That’s why they return these guys to office over and over again. That and the fact that neoconservative lucre always seems to find its way into their campaign funds.

Witness a recent case against neoconservative home builder Bob Perry of Perry Homes. The Texas Supreme Court overturned a ruling earlier this month in favor of a couple who bought a defective house from Perry. Their $800,000 award, one that they had fought for, for ten long years was completely nullified by this court, whose judges had collectively received $265,000 in campaign contributions from Perry.

Now why on Earth the Supreme Court justices thought it would look OK to hear a case concerning one of their big campaign contributors, I cannot fathom. Perhaps it is the fact that one or two might have been able to recuse themselves from the case, but not the whole freaking court.

Perry is on in his years and reclusive. Not so his son whose entire private life has unfolded in family court here in Fort Bend County. To read the whole sad tale, go read Bev’s Burner at the Fort Bend Star (5/21/08 and 5/14/08). Bob Perry, who is a drunken wife beater by his own son’s admission, has lots of influence in the county courts, too.

He has a near stranglehold on justice in Fort Bend County, having contributed to each family court judges’ campaign fund, except for one. So when each family court judge had to recuse himself from hearing his son’s divorce case, they brought in a visiting judge.

According to Bev Carter, the one judge who had not received a campaign contribution from Perry had been bypassed in favor of the visiting judge because the visiting judge allowed the divorce case to be entered into the public record with only the initials of the divorcing couple. She was told that Judge Robert Kern, the only judge whose campaign coffers are Perry-free, would not have allowed a case to be entered with only their initials.

But visiting judge, Judge Ron “Bubba” Pope had no problem allowing that. Said in fact that it was perfectly legal.

Now whether it is legal or not, I haven’t a care in the world. The fact is that divorce cases in Texas have the full names of the divorcing couples associated with them. Not their initials. Perry was obviously trying to keep his son’s name out of the news. Even out of the court records. Too bad he didn’t consult his son about this, he could have saved himself some trouble.

No, I don’t care if it’s legal or not. It’s not right. It stinks. It smells of roadkill. This is special treatment to a high degree. Special treatment to a family that has contributed mazuma millions to conservative causes locally and nationally.

Justice in Texas? It runs like a well-oiled machine.

Well oiled.


SEan Scott said...

You can always go back to your socialist craphole if you don't like the way Texans do things.

I'm really tired of the foreigners coming to Texas and deciding we need to change things.

Maybe you all just need to leave.

Hal said...

I guess I am having difficulty trying to figure out why it is socialism to have non-partisan judges.

I guess I am having difficulty trying to figure out why someone would defend graft and cronyism in Texas' judicial system.

What I am not having difficulty with is understanding why I am still living here, and believe me if I could do it right now, I would be out of here.

The trouble is, I'd be leaving all my good material behind. Texas is, if nothing else, a good source of stories that prompt one to moral outrage.