The Second Race on the ballot is an interesting one. The Texas Supreme Court is a fairly important court, but not likely the most important one in Texas. Most of the action in the appeals process occurs at the Appeals Court level, and cases are split between civil and criminal at the final level, with the Supreme Court dealing with civil cases and the Court of Criminal Appeals dealing with criminal cases. As such, the Texas Supreme Court only deals with those few civil cases that were not adequately discharged through the very capable Courts of Appeals.
In the runoff is the incumbent, David Medina, and a challenger, John Devine. John Devine has no experience as an appeals court judge. That’s not an absolute requirement for this job, but it is a major consideration. Devine’s judicial experience consists of a two-year stint as a District Judge about 10 years ago. He resigned from his position to run for US Congress, and has run unsuccessfully for several offices since then. However, he espouses a strict constructionist judicial philosophy that would be a clear departure from the precedent based philosophy followed by his opponent.
David Medina has served on the Supreme Court for 8 years. He was initially appointed by Governor Perry to fill an unexpired term, and ran with only token opposition in 2006. By all accounts, he has been a fine jurist and has authored reasoned opinions in keeping with the State Constitution and constructed upon precendential law.
Since 2006 there have been a couple of ethics investigations and at least one indictment concerning a suspicious fire at his residence. The indictment was later dropped by the District Attorney, but there was an unusual public discussion by the grand jury members. A personal friend of mine was on that grand jury panel, and that friend would not vote for Medina for any office. Some of the other people I trust have endorsed Medina. A few others have endorsed Devine.
In terms of future races, neither candidate is likely to use this office as a stepping stone to other offices, nor would the loss of either create a vacancy.
I supported Devine in 2004 when he ran for Congress in the 10th District for an open seat. The Texas Republican Assembly has made no endorsement in this race.