Texas Justice

Marshall Manson summarizes a civil suit taking place deep in the heart of Texas:

  • There’s a trial lawyer suing Ford for tens of millions of dollars.
  • He’s representing both the plaintiffs and one of the defendants.
  • His lover winds up on the jury and starts tampering the moment she is sworn in.
  • And, oh yeah, she helped the lawyer sign up the plaintiffs.
  • And, oh yeah, she’s the city manager. Which means there’s been no investigation because, you know, the police work for her — and the state authorities need a request from the locals to get involved.
  • The judge has a clear conflict of interests, but hears the case anyway.
  • And, oh yeah, he was indicted on federal charges in an unrelated matter just weeks after the trial.

I believe I saw something like that on the “Dukes of Hazard” once.

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts, Policing, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. To be fair, this is from a bit of the “old Texas”. You are looking at a town in a county which went 74.79% for Kerry in 2004 (highest percentage in the state). Zavala county isn’t the ‘Heart of Texas’ but more of a carbuncle on its ass. Zavala is yellow democrat territory. This is not typical Texas. That’s not to say that Texas can’t pull some boneheaded moves, but the majority of the state isn’t such a banana republic.

    The good news is that in Texas we elect our judges. So a judge who lets this sort of thing go on represents the values of voters which went 75% for Kerry. The appeals court is also elected, but elected statewide. Like any state wide office in Texas, that means all the winners in the last few years have been republicans. I suspect the appeals court will handily reverse the decision and you may see some ethics violation charges showing up.

  2. M. Murcek says:

    If you read John Grisham’s “The Innocent Man,” (which, BTW, knocked Woodward’s book from atop the NYT non-fiction bestseller list) you’ll find that the problem is a lot worse than a crooked civil suit, and it isn’t a story line from Dukes of Hazzard…

  3. M1EK says:

    “but the majority of the state isn’t such a banana republic.”

    Uh, the hard-core Republican parts of the state are more banana than you could possibly imagine.

  4. SoloD says:

    For all the complaints about appointed for life judges, elected judges are much much worse.

  5. M1EK,

    Since I live here, I’ll form my own opinion on the rest of Texas. We are one of those growing red states and happy with it. Zavala county is one of the old blue parts of the state. Eventually someone will notice that by only electing democrats, they are getting the government they deserve. The rest of Texas has learned that lesson.


    I disagree, I think electing judges is better. Especially at the appeals court level. When I started law school, one of the first contract cases we reviewed was about strip mining in Oklahoma. The strip miner had contracted to restore the land after removing what they wanted. They didn’t. Our poor little first year law minds were tasked to understand the judicial reasoning that found the clear language of the contract should be ignored. After a couple days of this, the proff gave us one additional piece of information that made all the rest of the opinion eminently understandable. Shortly after handing down the decision, several members of the Oklahoma supreme court (appointed, not elected) were convicted of taking bribes. I believe Oklahoma has now gone to an appoint and then re-elect system where the judge is initially appointed, but then needs to be re-elected periodically to stay in office. If the judge loses, the governor appoints someone else.