The Texas Legislature is poised to agree to change the way judges are selected in Texas, 1200 WOAI news reports.
A House committee has unanimously approved a measure introduced by San Antonio State Rep. Justin Rodriguez which calls for an interim committee to study the way judges are selected and issue a report to the 2015 session.
The partisan election of judges has already been a bone of contention in Texas. Almost nobody likes the current system, which requires judges to fundraise during their terms, and leads to allegations that judges are being 'bought' through campaign contributions from law firms which have cases pending before the courts.
"This bipartisan study would be commissioned to consider the fairness, effectiveness, and desirability of different judicial selection methods," Rodriguez said.
Judges also dislike the current method because their livelihoods frequently rise and fall with the fortunes of the party in power. If there is a particularly attractive candidate near the top of the ticket in the other party, judges can lose their jobs, requiring them to look for new jobs through no fault of their own.
Among the options spelled out in Rodriguez' proposal include the potential for lifetime appointment of judges, appointment for a term, followed by a partisan election, appointment for a term, followed by a nonpartisan election, appointment for a term, followed by a 'retention election,' and even appointing judges for a single term and making them ineligible for re-election.
The bill would cover all judges above the level of county court, including state district judge, appellate judge, and justices of the State Supreme Court and Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
"My bill does not propose an ultimate solution," Rodriguez said. "Rather it will provide us with a means to gather enough information to make rational, educated decisions about judicial elections in the future."