The longest serving Judge on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Lawrence “Larry” Meyers, has announced he is seeking re-election in 2010. The Court has been called a national laughingstock by one of its other members because of the actions of Sharon Keller and that was years before Keller made it even more of a laughingstock by closing the court in 2007 and refusing to accept a legal appeal from a person about to be executed. Currently there are no Democrats serving on the Court of Criminal Appeals, but we hope the Democrats persuade a strong candidate to run in 2010. It does not serve justice to have every member of any court to be all from the same political party.
Despite the poor reputation of the Court of Criminal Appeals, Meyers said in his press release, “I am seeking re-election to the Court to continue to be an objective voice and ensure that we maintain our reputation for delivering fair and just opinions,” said Meyers in announcing his candidacy for re-election.
In 2004, Texas Monthly’s Mike Hall wrote in his article “And Justice for Some” about the CCA, “over the past ten years, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has disregarded exculpatory DNA evidence, threats of torture, bad lawyering, and in some cases, all common sense to uphold convictions in keeping with its tough-on-crime philosophy. Why should toughness steamroll fairness?”
Meyers is not the judge who unethically closed the court to a person on the day of his execution. That was Sharon Keller. But the upcoming trial on Sharon Keller in August may expose some of the behind the scenes operations of the Court that may not be helpful for any incumbent judges seeking re-election.
Unfortunately, Keller is not up for re-election in 2010. If she had to face the voters now, she would probably lose. She may be removed before her term expires after her trial on misconduct charges. Even though Keller’s name will not be on the ballot in 2010, she may become an issue in the re-election campaigns of any CCA incumbents who are on the ballot. The Court of Criminal Appeals needs some fresh faces to restore integrity to the court. The question is will the Democrats run a strong candidate for the Court. Even if the Democrats find a strong candidate for the Court, that candidate will need the help of a strong Democratic candidate for governor because most CCA elections reflect the outcomes of the gubernatorial race. In 2010, a strong Democratic CCA candidate could win even if the Democratic gubernatorial candidate loses, as long as the governor’s race is not a blowout.