Lisa Michalk Takes First Place in Texas 221st Judicial Election

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Lisa Michalk
Lisa Michalk

Lisa Michalk was the only one of four candidates in the Texas 221st Judicial Election to take the time to respond to our articles on the election and the candidates. As we’ve seen in person how biased, corrupt, and incompetent courts, particularly those in family law cases, ruin people’s lives and abuse children and parents, we believe it is critical that the American public learn about the problems in the courts and struggle to make better choices in judges. While we still don’t know enough about Michalk to endorse her, we’d like to think that her willingness to participate in our discussion over the issues might have earned her a few votes and put her in first place in the primary election.

The results from the March 2, 2010 primary election are as follows:

Candidate Votes % of Votes
Lisa Benge Michalk 9029 26.75%
John Devine 8961 26.54%
Scott Golemon 8665 25.67%
David O’Neil 7104 21.04%

It appears that voters had little basis on which to differentiate the candidates given the nearly random choice results for the top three candidates.

It’s our understanding that Michalk will face off against Devine in the April 2010 primary run-off election in which early voting runs from April 5 to 9 and regular voting is on April 13. The general election will be on November 2, but for this race it appears the decision will be made on April 13 given there are only two candidates remaining.

Two of our concerns about candidate John Devine are his making religion a major talking point in his campaign and the controversial use of the title “Judge” in his campaign literature. Although Michalk stayed out of the fray over that ethical question, the other two candidates believe that Devine may have violated election laws by the use of that title when he is not in fact an elected judge.

(from 221st candidates question use of ‘Judge‘ for Devine campaign)

The TEC’s advisory opinion 171 states that it is not a violation of Section 255.006 of the Election Code for a person who is currently a judge to use the title of “judge” in political advertising or campaign communications.

But, “It would be a violation … for a judge running for a judicial office other than the one he or she currently holds to enter into an agreement to print, publish or broadcast political advertising that suggests the judge is an incumbent in the office sought,” the advisory opinion states.

“Similarly, it would be a violation of subsection (b) for a judge to represent in a campaign communication that he or she holds a judicial office other than the one he or she actually holds.”

The key to interpreting Section 255.006 of the Election Code to determine whether Devine is in violation is if he advertised or printed campaign material “with the intent to represent to an ordinary and prudent person that a candidate holds a public office he does not hold,” both Golemon and O’Neil said.

“I think it’s misleading to the public for him to campaign that he is a judge,” Golemon said. “He is not an active judge, and he doesn’t hold current office. (Voters) may think he is the incumbent.”

With 221st state District Court Judge Suzanne Stovall opting not to run for re-election, none of the candidates is the incumbent in this race.

A judge has to be elected to be current and active, Golemon said.

“Most voters don’t know that justices of the peace don’t have to be attorneys,” he said. “To say you’re a special judge in a JP court … sounds good, but it’s misleading.”

As avoiding the appearance of bias or impropriety is an important task for a judge, these issues are in our opinion legitimate concerns. Separation of church and state is a fundamental concept in American justice yet Devine’s discussion of his religious views raises questions about whether he is capable of maintaining that separation. The ethical questions around the use of the title “Judge” raise similar questions about his ability to avoid the appearance of impropriety.

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Candidate Websites

Lisa Benge Michalk for Judge – 221st State of Texas District Court

Judge John Devine – Republican for Judge, 221st District Court

Scott Golemon for Judge for the 221st District Court

David O’Neil – Republican for District Judge

Articles Related To Texas 221st District Courts

Montgomery County Court Candidate Lisa Michalk Responds

Montgomery County 221st Judicial Election Candidates

Judge Suzanne Stovall Wins “Babystealer of 2009″ Award

Does Texas Judge Suzanne Stovall Deserve Re-election?

Woodlands Online: Primary Election Results

Montgomery County Election Results

Texas district court judicial elections, 2010

Further Reading on Family Law Judges and Politics

Holding Family Law Judges Accountable

Are Sarah Palin and Family Serial Parental Alienators?

Pandering Anti-Family Politicians Abuse Children and Fathers

California Democrat Jim Beall Supports Child Abuse

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  1. Conservative
    March 31st, 2010 at 14:39 | #1

    I just received a mail out from Devine’s campaign and do not appreciate another dumbing of voters. The mailer was faulting another candidate for representing criminals, woe to us if we ever need representation for an alleged criminal act and cannot find an attorney to represent us because of the belief doing this can hurt your campaign. Let your own merits be the decision for the voters, let us not start losing integrity in our party due to dirty tactics.

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