My two cents on the contested GOP primary races

Since I don’t even know where the Republicans hold their klaverns primaries around here you won’t find me behind a curtain casting any votes for the wingnuts, but, as a public service, I have taken a look at who’s running for the Harris County criminal benches this time around.

Being that I don’t see President Obama carrying Harris County this year like he did four years ago, it is very likely that the winners of the Republican primary will be sitting on the bench come January.

So, here we go…

174th Judicial District

Here we have a match-up between a current prosecutor, Joe Vinas, and a former prosecutor, Robert Summerlin. According to Mr. Vinas’ website, he’s been with the District Attorney’s Office for the last 13 years, the last nine as a prosecutor. Mr. Summerlin, on the other hand, actually has some experience outside the DA’s office as he has been in private practice since 2003.

While I don’t care for Mr. Summerlin promoting himself as a conservative judge who will be tough, at least he has worked on both sides of the aisle – and that is always a plus.

177th Judicial District

Once again we have a prosecutor, Ryan Patrick, squaring off against a defense attorney, Anthony Benavides. Mr. Patrick went to work at 1201 Franklin right out of law school and has absolutely no experience doing anything other than trying to take away the liberty of our fellow citizens.

Mr. Benavides worked for a year as a prosecutor in Corpus Christi before moving to Houston to open up his own criminal defense practice. As a practicing defense attorney, Mr. Benavides understands what a defendant has to go through in court – he also has an appreciation for the great disadvantage one has as a defendant in Harris County.

Besides, Ryan Patrick’s dad is the ultimate wing nut State Senator Dan Patrick – does there need to be any other reason not to vote for him?

179th Judicial District

Either Kristin Guiney or Lana Shadwick will be taking over the 179th in January. Mr. Guiney worked for the DA’s Office and now handles indigent defense – which means she relies on appointments. But at least she’s seen life outside the DA’s office.

 Her opponent, Murray Newman’s favorite prosecutor, Ms. Shadwick has worked as a prosecutor, an associate family judge and a municipal court judge. I don’t know if working in the den of corruption that the Family Law Center is or as an automaton at 1400 Lubbock is really something I’d be advertising if I were running for a real bench.

So here is one race on which Murray and I agree – Ms. Guiney is the better choice (and couldn’t possibly be worse than the person she’d be replacing).

337th Judicial District

Now here’s a fun race: a candidate who was once removed from the bench for misconduct, Jim Barr, versus a career prosecutor, Renee Magee. Hey, at least Mr. Barr has been practicing a little criminal defense work over the last decade.

I think I’d vote for Mr. Barr just to fuck with the Republican establishment. Neither one of these two are qualified to sit on the bench, but one of them will in January. I just can’t stomach the thought of yet another career prosecutor moving to the Judicial Division of the DA’s Office.

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