Helping Trial Lawyers Navigate the Appellate System

Election 2016: Some New Faces on Texas Appellate Courts

8453568053_8102d2cb23_oAs in recent cycles, Republican incumbents and open-seat candidates for Texas appellate benches generally fared well in the 2016 general election. South Texas was the notable exception.

The election will not change the Texas Supreme Court’s composition—at least not directly—as incumbent Justices Paul Green, Eva Guzman, and Debra Lehrmann all retained their seats. Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential race might indirectly affect the Court, however, as Justice Don Willett remains in the national conversation about who will fill the late Justice Scalia’s spot on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Judge Mike Keasler will return to the Court of Criminal Appeals. His colleague, Judge Larry Meyers (who was elected as a Republican but switched parties) lost to Mary Lou Keel and will be moving on. Republican Scott Walker will fill an open seat on that court.

Republican incumbent Justices Sherry Radack (actually Chief Justice of the First Court of Appeals in Houston), Evelyn Keyes (First Court), Lana Myers (Dallas), David Schenck (Dallas), and Tracy Christopher (Fourteenth in Houston) will each serve another term.

The Second, Fourth, Eighth, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth Courts will each have a new face come January 1. In Fort Worth, Republican candidate Elizabeth Kerr was not opposed and therefore won the Second Court seat being vacated by Justice Anne Gardner’s retirement. In San Antonio, former County Court Judge Irene Rios defeated Republican incumbent Justice Jason Pulliam (and as a result, the Fourth Court will once again be all female). In El Paso, Democrat Gina Palafox faced no opponent in the general election and will therefore take a seat on the Eighth Court. In Corpus Christi–Edinburg (Thirteenth Court), former District Judge Leticia Hinojosa unseated Republican incumbent Justice Greg Perkes. And in Houston, Republican candidate Kevin Jewell won an open seat on the Fourteenth Court resulting from Justice Sharon McCally’s decision not to seek re-election.

Incumbents who did not face opposition in the general election and therefore won new terms were Justices Bonnie Sudderth (Fort Worth) Melissa Goodwin (Austin), Cindy Bourland (Austin), Josh Morriss (Texarkana), James Campbell (Amarillo), Charles Kreger (Beaumont), Al Scoggins (Waco), John Bailey (Eastland), Brian Hoyle (Tyler), and Greg Neeley (Tyler).

Image courtesy of Flickr by Ewald Straßmann.

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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