Helping Trial Lawyers Navigate the Appellate System

Another Reason for Judicial Selection Reform

Within the past couple of weeks, I have been contacted by two different lawyers about their clients’ respective appeals, both of which appear to be on a collision course with the Texas Supreme Court.  Sounds promising, right?  Not so fast.

Rather than calling to discuss hiring me to handle their matters, both lawyers wanted me to recommend someone “politically connected” (i.e., someone with a firm that is a big financial contributor to the individual justices’ electoral campaigns) to take over the proceedings.

I don’t blame these folks for calling.  They are merely doing what they think is in their clients’ best interest.  But what does this say about lawyers’ confidence—not to mention the public’s—in our elected judiciary?  It’s more important to hire someone who has given large sums to political campaigns than someone qualified to do the job (and, in my case, as a sole practitioner with much lower overhead than the “politically connected” firms, do it at a considerably more favorable rate).

Chief Justice Jefferson has tried to pick up the mantle of judicial selection reform and carry on the fight started by his immediate predecessors.  The legislature keeps saying no.  Don’t give up, Chief.  Don’t give up.

D. Todd Smith
About the Author

D. Todd Smith is an Austin-based civil appellate specialist who works with trial teams from the earliest stages of litigation. In trial courts, he takes the lead on strategic analysis and briefing, jury charges, and potentially dispositive motions, all with a focus on preserving error and positioning cases for appellate review.

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