Attorneys Seek Appointment to New 507th Family District Court
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By Greg Enos

The Governor's office is interviewing attorneys seeking to be appointed judge of the new 507th Family District Court that will begin operation on January 1, 2016.  The Republicans who are seeking the appointment are:

  • Melanie Flowers
  • Angelina Gooden
  • Aneeta Jamal
  • Alyssa Lemkuil
  • Lan Nguyen
  • Chelsie Ramos
  • Meca Walker

Julia Maldonado, a staunch Democrat, also applied and has been interviewed, although the odds that Governor Abbott would appoint her seem very slim.  Maldonado, Chip Wells and Jim Evans apparently plan to seek the Democratic nomination. 

 

I think it would be best if an experienced Associate Judge (Lemkuil, Walker or Ramos) is appointed, as they already know the job.  On the other hand, Judge John Schmude shows that a lawyer with no judicial experience can turn out to be a really good judge, so a Melanie Flowers might well turn out to be a wonderful pick.

You can contact the Governor's office to urge him to appoint the candidate you feel is the most qualified by faxing or writing to:


Governor's Appointments Office
Mail: P.O. Box 12428, Austin, Texas 78711

Overnight Delivery: 1100 San Jacinto, Austin, Texas 78701
Fax: (512) 475-2576


The appointment is expected by early December so that the person selected can attend the "New Judge's School" that is held during the week of December 7 (I was not invited to speak to the new judges again this year!).

The new court will be on the 15th floor of the Civil Courthouse (where the 280th was).   The family board of judges has decided on the methodology for "stocking the pond" in the 507th with cases.   According to Judge David Farr:


We are currently moving 240 total cases out of the 311th District Court (30 cases randomly assigned to each of the other 8 courts) in order to assist with the continuing "Pratt backlog" in that court.  These are all original suits that are within 0 months - 3 months old with no current settings in place in the 311th.  Along those same lines we will move 1/9 of the total caseload in each court to the 507th in December for a total of approximately 2100 cases.  These will be both original suits and post-judgment suits (CEJ is able to be released based on the new court being stood up) within 0 months - 6 months old and randomly pulled from each of the nine courts. 


The new 507th court is created as of January 1, 2016, so the position will not be on the primary election ballot in March.   The nominees will be selected by the Executive Committee of each county party.  The executive committee is made up of the precinct chairs who will be elected in March.  The meeting of the executive committees to select the parties' nominees for the 507th are expected to be held in June 2016.  On the Republican side, the person appointed by Governor Abbott would be expected to have the advantage, but there is a surprising track record of gubernatorial appointees being defeated in such elections.  It all means that the persons who will appear on the November ballot for the 507th will not be selected in an open primary but rather in a much smaller election decided by a few hundred precinct chairs.  This is much more like the College of Cardinals selecting the Pope.

The 507th will be elected in a different election cycle than the other family district judges and this position will be decided in a presidential election year.   Even if Ted Cruz is the GOP nominee (and I still am giving him the best shot), Harris County is likely to go Democratic and so we may soon be kowtowing to a judge Evans or Maldonado or Wells in that court.

For the best analysis of the 2016 Presidential Election race (and Congressional races as well), you should daily read electoral-vote.com.
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