Texas Candidate for Supreme Court Justice Alleges His Incumbent Opponent’s Ballot Access Petition is Insufficient

According to this story, a lawsuit has been filed in Texas state court to keep Supreme Court Justice Jeff Brown off the March 2014 Republican primary ballot. Candidates in Texas primaries who are running for statewide judicial posts need 700 signatures. The lawsuit was filed by Joe Pool, who is running against Brown in the Republican primary.


Texas Candidate for Supreme Court Justice Alleges His Incumbent Opponent’s Ballot Access Petition is Insufficient — 8 Comments

  1. Do these candidates believe in the free market? I guess the best way to eliminate the competition is to use the power of government. Just like the top two primary laws seek to eliminate the competition in the general election where people start to pay attention, by looking at candidates and issues.

  2. The signature requirement for statewide judicial offices is 50 from each of the 14 appellate court districts.

    The allegation is that Justice Brown did not obtain 50 valid signatures from two districts. Because of the wide variance in population of the 14 districts, such a distribution requirement might be not be constitutional.

    One circulator failed to date his affidavit that he had complied with the legal circulation requirements, and it is alleged that therefore the signatures he collected are not valid. In one district, this would reduce the number of signatures from 72 to 46.

    In another instance, the affidavit was notarized by a notary whose commission had expired (Texas no longer requires petition signatures to be notarized – see ‘American Party of Texas v White’; but does require the circulator’s affidavit to be notarized). It is alleged that since the notary was incompetent to administer an oath, that the circulator’s affidavit and the signature’s collected would be invalid.

    Texas requires petitions in addition to a filing fee for statewide judicial offices and judicial offices in the most populous counties. The intent may to be keep unqualified persons from winning a primary where they may be little scrutiny, and then automatically be elected.

    In the 1970s a Democrat whose name was similar to that of a US Senator was nominated and then elected to the Texas Supreme Court. He later resigned because of criminal charges, but fled Texas and the US before he was sentenced. Grenada refused to extradite him, but he was captured after the US intervention in the early 1980s.

    The political parties hold petition signing parties, where partisans can sign dozens of judicial petitions (and exercise some control over who runs).

    Justice Brown was appointed last year, after another Justice resigned. It is quite common for justices to resign some time before an election, to permit the governor to appoint a replacement who can run as a an “incumbent”. The parties typically do not like challengers.

    Joe Pool, Jr. failed to get an injunction in district court, and has now appealed to the Texas Supreme Court, where he is in effect trying to bar one of the justices from running for election. Pool also sought nomination to the Supreme Court in 2012. After he failed to qualify for the primary runoff, he traveled about the state supporting the eventual winner (this is featured on his campaign website). So conceivably another justice would be beholden to Pool for past support.

    Joe Pool, Jr.’s father was a Democratic congressman who was originally elected at large, but only after he previously had been defeated running for a district seat – the only Democrat to lose a congressional seat in Texas. During the 2000s redistricting, Gerry Hebert who was acting as the agent of the notorious gerrymanderer Martin Frost cited the case of the Democratic-controlled legislature forcing poor Joe Pool to run statewide, in order to protect the likes of Wright Patman and Sam Rayburn by not performing equal-population redistricting.

    But the real reason for not redistricting was not to protect incumbents, but to avoid drawing districts that Republicans could win. At the time of ‘Wesberry v Sanders’ (and ‘Bush v Martin’), the district that Pool had been defeated in was the most egregiously overpopulated district in the entire country with nearly one million persons. After one man one vote districts were drawn, the number of Republican representatives from Texas increased from zero to three.

    The Democratic candidate for the Supreme Court seat is Larry Meyers who is a judge on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (in Texas, the Supreme Court does not have jurisdiction in criminal case). Meyers was elected as a Republican in 1992, and subsequently re-elected in 1998, 2004, and 2010 (the resign to run provision does not apply to all offices). The decision of Meyers to run as a Democrat makes the involvement of Buck Woods (as Pool’s lawyer) very suspicious.

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