In the 2011 edition of his annual state of the judiciary address, Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson calls for an overhaul of the Texas system for selecting judges:
A justice system built on some notion of Democratic judging or Republican judging is a system that cannot be trusted. I urge the Legislature to send the people a constitutional amendment that would allow judges to be selected on their merit.
If that constitutional amendment is too much to ask for, Jefferson
would eliminate straight-ticket voting that allows judges to be swept from the bench … not for poor work ethic, not for bad temperament, not even for their controversial but courageous decisions – but because of party affiliation.
He also advocates extending judges’ terms, to “avoid some of the overhaul that occurs each election cycle,” but he seems more concerned about fairness toward judges than about fairness towards the citizens who seek justice in their courts.
Short of selecting judges on their merit, the best measure to increase citizens’ confidence in our courts would be to free judges from dependence for campaign funding on the parties appearing in their courts. Coffee Party Austin advocates alternative sources of campaign funding, to enable judicial candidates to spend their time communicating with voters instead of currying favor with deep-pocketed attorneys and corporations.