Sunday, May 22, 2005

The Houston Bar speaks. Who listens?

I'm a lawyer; in Houston, Texas; and while I didn't participate in this poll (I haven't practiced law for almost 10 years, although I maintain my license and non-pratciting status with the State Bar), I couldn't pass this up.

Via Crooked Timber, from the Daou Report, the Houston Chronicle reports:

Houston Bar Association Judicial Evaluation Poll: overall ratings

Percentages of HBA members who rated judges outstanding, acceptable or poor in the overall rating category, with the number of poll responses in parentheses following the names. Judges who were on the bench for less than six months before Dec. 31, 2004, were not included in the poll. The full report is online at

Supreme Court of Texas

Supreme Court of Texas
Judge Outstanding Acceptable Poor
Scott A. Brister (422) 36.9 20.7 42.4
Nathan L. Hecht (327) 40.3 17.4 42.3
Wallace B. Jefferson (270) 53.4 29.7 16.9
Harriet O'Neill (334) 55 30.5 14.5
Priscilla R. Owen (350) 39.5 15.2 45.3
Dale Wainwright (316) 48.7 25.7 25.7

That's the Houston Bar, folks. Not a notorious hotbed of "liberalism" and progressive politics. Lawyers generally respect judges who know the law, and rule the way the law provides. Does this make Owen an "activist" judge? Well, it certainly means her professional peers don't think much of her. Not in Houston, anyway.
N.B. Realized belatedly this is not as clear as ight be. The original is better, but to clarify, the numbers are meant to be read in three categories: "Outstanding," "Acceptable," and "Poor." In those categories, Justice Own recieves the following votes: 39.5% "Outstanding," 15.2% "Acceptable," and 45.2% "Poor." Nathan Hecht has been on the Court since I stopped active practice, and he was not the brightest light or the most respected member of the Court at that time, which also says something about Ms. Owen's qualifications.

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