There is a lot of whispering, some shouting, and other ambient noise about changes in judges in Collin County. I decided to write a bit about it. Please keep in mind that none of my information is either verified or has any real sources to it. None of the attorneys, judges, potential candidates or anyone else has told me anything personally that could be cited as a fact. I haven’t talked to most of these attorneys about it either. Lets just call this post part of the rumor express. If you are mentioned in here and want to comment publicly or privately, have at it.
If you are one of the people running, talking about running, or being talked about as running, you may not want to read further. I like pretty much everyone running, so I’m going to (at least for now) keep my most of my thoughts to myself on who I think should be a judge.
So here goes. . .
First of all, in Collin County, the entire race is held in the Republican Primaries. So all of what we talk about is seeking the republican nomination.
Judge Curt Henderson will not be seeking re-election this year. He has served for quite a long time, and is well respected on both sides of the bar. This leaves an open seat to be elected soon.
So far, only one candidate has made his intentions public about seeking the bench. Scott Becker has been publicly garnering support, and has been sending letters, emails, and has his website up and running www.BeckerForJudge.com. He has even garnered the support of several of the Collin County law enforcement agencies. Scott is a current prosecutor at the District Attorney’s Office, and former private attorney.
Although Scott is the only one "officially" running (no one can even put their name on the ballot officially yet), it is widely rumored that Current County Court Six Judge Greg Willis is going to make a run at the 219th. Some Willis fans even started a facebook page urging him for District Judge. Judge Greg Willis was appointed to his bench a few years back. He was in private practice at the time with his wife Jill. Jill was the last District Judge appointed to the newly formed 429th. Judge Willis running, however, is a bit risky because if he does not become District Judge, he will no longer retain his current bench. But, I know he had a thriving law practice before, so I know he would be just fine anyway. . .
Judge Greg Brewer has announced that he is going to be stepping down. Unlike Judge Henderson, this means that the new judge will be appointed, rather than elected. Judge Brewer, like Henderson was also liked heavily by both sides of the bar.
So, officially, it is the Governors office that appoints the next judge. I’m definitely not in the know on this one, but I suspect it isn’t actually the governor, but some committee or person that is making the decisions.
Several people are rumored to be seeking the 366th position. This includes some of the current county judges, who presumably should be near the front of the short list. There are realistically only six people that can say they have county court judicial experience. Those with their names in are rumored to be County Court 4’s Judge Ray Wheless, and County Court 1’s Judge Corrine Mason.
It is suspected that many other people will apply for the open seat as well. This happens a lot, probably because it is a lot easier to put your name in for an open seat than it is to run for one. Especially for currently sitting Judges.
So, based on what we know so far, the appointment for the 366th could be a major game changer. If, say, Scott Becker were appointed, this would presumably leave open the 219th for Willis to run for the seat with no opponent. (It is also rumored that Willis isn’t putting in for the open 366th seat – Maybe because his wife got the last appointment?).
However, if CC1 or CC4’s judge was appointed to the spot, then that would then open up another bench. My understanding is that then the county court bench would be appointed a new judge.
County Court 1 – No one is planning on running for this or against Judge Mason. Of course, this would change is she were appointed to a District Bench. However, the open seat would be appointed, so we aren’t going to see any names on the ballot. Any one of the attorneys running for other courts could be appointed.
County Court 2 – Haven’t heard a word of anyone running against Judge Lewis. Doubt he’ll get an opponent when there are potentially "open" seats out there.
County Court 3 – Judge John Barry is not seeking re-election. This means another open Court up for the running. Barnett Walker has already publicly stated he is seeking the seat. He is a former prosecutor, current private practice attorney, and 22 year military veteran. He has a site set up www.votebarnett.com. Others are rumored to be running as well, including Lance Baxter, a local private practice attorney.
County Court 4 – Like Court 1, no one is going to run against Wheless. He’s loved by pretty much everyone that comes into his court. Like many people, although I’d love for him to get whatever position he wants, I sure hope he stays put.
County Court 5 – Haven’t heard anything about anyone running against Judge Wilson. Like CC2, I doubt anyone will seek to run against him.
County Court 6 – As I said before, it is heavily rumored that Judge Willis is running for the 219th. This means that others see a potential open bench. It has been said Shawn Ismail, President of the Frisco Bar Association and private practice attorney, and a few others are eying a run at it.
Other Courts Unknown: There are several other names out there of people that may be interested in running for a bench. William Underwood, Maria Tu, Jay Bender, Kyle Shaw, Linda Drain and a few others. Plus civil lawyers who I don’t know or hear rumors about might run as well. But I am not sure (about anything really) if they have decided on which bench any of them might seek.
Right now it is a bit of a waiting game except for a few who are "all in" with websites, etc. I think everyone is just seeking what they perceive as the easiest way to get what they want . . . a judicial bench. So let the political games begin!