Two of the speakers at the recent Money and Justice Forum—David Lyle and Bert Brandenburg— were interviewed by Ross Ramsey of the Texas Tribune. The interview focused on the forum’s ostensible subject, namely, the extent to which judges’ decisions are swayed by campaign contributions and the resulting erosion of public confidence in the courts’ fairness.
San Antonio’s KSAT published remarks by the forum’s keynoter, former Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson. As in his forum address, Justice Jefferson observes that voters are faced with ballots full of judicial candidates about whom they know nothing other than their party affiliation. He advocates a system in which a bipartisan commission would vet judicial candidates and evaluate sitting judges.
Finally, the editorial in today’s Austin American-Statesman weighs in under the title “Texas needs judicial reform.” Motivated by the special committee of Texas legislators that will recommend changes in the judicial election system to be considered in the 2015 session, the editorial faults the current system both for the conflicts of interest that arise when judges accept contributions from those on whom they impose judgments and for the risk of low-information voters electing judges who are mediocre or worse.