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Tim Riley

Judicial Q&A: Tim Riley

(Note: I am running a series of Q&As for Democratic judicial candidates on the November ballot. I am running these responses in the order that I receive them from the candidates. These Q&As are primarily intended for candidates who were not in contested primaries. You can see those earlier Q&As, as well as all the ones in this series and all my recorded interviews for this cycle, on my 2010 Elections page.)

1. Who are you, and what are you running for?

Tim Riley, running for 14th Court of Appeals, Place 9.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

Intermediate appellate jurisdiction in both civil and criminal cases appealed from district or county courts.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

Because I have become extremely disappointed with the one-sided direction of the Texas appellate courts. Currently the 14th Court of Appeals consists entirely of Republican jurists, most originally appointed by Gov. Bush or Gov. Perry. While they presumably are all adequately qualified and well-meaning, these judges have markedly similar judicial philosophies and leanings. By way of illustration, dissenting opinions in this court are rare, under 5%, meaning that the justices agree on every issue presented to them more than 95% of the time. This lock-step group mentality leaves little room for meaningful discussion and serious consideration of opposing views, a very unhealthy situation for the advancement of justice.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

Bachelor of Business Administration, University of Texas. Top 5% 1983 cum laude graduate of UH Law School. Board-Certified Civil Trial Law and Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Adjunct Professor of Law – Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law. Former Adjunct Professor of Law – University of Houston Law Center 2001-2007. A-V peer-rated by Martindale-Hubbell. Named by Texas Super Lawyers magazine as one of the top attorneys in Texas for 2010 (to be published Oct. 2010.) Recognized as one of “Houston’s Top Lawyers for the People” by H-Texas Magazine 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010, and as one of “Houston’s Top Lawyers” in 2008, 2009, and 2010. Elected to American Board of Trial Advocates. Tried in excess of 50 jury trials, representing both sides of the bar in a wide variety of civil cases. Admitted to practice appellate law before the United States Supreme Court, United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and all Texas appellate courts. Lead counsel in dozens of published appellate cases, federal and state. Numerous cases argued orally to appellate courts, including Texas Supreme Court, United States 5th Court of Appeals, and Texas state appellate courts.

5. Why is this race important?

Because the courts of appeals principally decide the most important legal issues in Texas.

6. Why should people vote for you in November?

To create a more balanced court, which will lead to better-reasoned and supported opinions.

Moody to run for Supreme Court again

Good news for Democratic statewide prospects.

A veteran state district judge who walked across Texas three years ago in pursuit of a seat on the state Supreme Court plans to go airborne next year for another shot at the high court.

Judge Bill Moody, of El Paso, plans to charter a blimp and make two daily stops in the state’s 70 most populated counties to grab the attention of voters. An amateur historian, Moody says no Texan has campaigned from a blimp before, although Lyndon Johnson created a buzz by using a helicopter during his 1948 U.S. Senate campaign.

The blimp idea came to Moody during a walk in the hot sun near the Johnson ranch east of Fredericksburg.

“I saw a blimp flying through the sky, and I said, ‘There might be an easier way to do this and to get out the message,’ ” he said Thursday from the state Capitol. “The blimp is important as a messaging tool.”

A Democrat, he hopes to break into the nine-member, all-Republican court.

Moody was the leading votegetter among Dems in 2006, collecting 1,877,909 tallies in a 51-45 loss to appointed Justice Don Willett. He collected a lot of newspaper endorsements along the way, which I believe helped him. Two Democratic judicial candidates from 2008 – Sam Houston and Susan Strawn – received a higher percentage of the vote than Moody did in 2006, so with his name ID and qualifications, he has a real shot next year.

Individual workers, home owners and consumers have lost nearly every case before the court when opposed by insurance and pharmaceutical companies, Moody said.

“These large political contributors have been so overpowering and loud in exercising their speech and influence before the Republican court that everyone else’s voices have been drowned out,” he said.

If you want to know who those big contributors are and who their beneficiaries were in the last election, read this report (PDF) from Texans for Public Justice.

According to Postcards (whose individual entry link is broken), Moody will run against Justice Paul Green. I don’t know yet who will run for the seat that was vacated by Justice Scott Brister, which has now been filled by Justice Eva Guzman of the 14th Texas Court of Appeals, but I’m sure someone will. For that matter, I’m sure someone will run against Guzman and whoever her appointed replacement is on the 14th Court in the Republican primary as well. And I know that whoever wins that latter primary will face Tim Riley, who ran against Tom DeLay in CD22 back in 2002, in the general election. I think that about covers it.