Monday, February 13, 2006

Judge for yourself

This is my first post on RGV Life. Thanks to Shaine Mata for making it happen. One of those recent blogs explained the importance of blogging for him; it encouraged me to try to contribute to his discussion on RGV life in general. I hope my writing will be a productive use of readers' time.

My first piece, "Judge for Yourself," concerns the race for judges in the Valley. It occurred to me that in having honest discussions about politics, nobody every really talks about the judicial election process. Here we have this third branch of government, designed to interpret laws and make objective decisions over the first and second branches, but whose participants (in Texas at least) must pander their thoughts and opinions to voters and political power brokers in order to obtain a position. Don't we desire objectivity in the third branch? Then why must the judges run for election, rather than become appointed? Of course, an appointment process invites its own form of cronyism and favoritism, but at least we know a judge’s will doesn't bend to the political electorate: the same people whose fate the judges are paid to pronounce.

But, at least we have the opportunity to reject those we find disagreeable. It's as much a pastime to observe Rio Grande politics as it is to point out the flawed characters of our fellow Hidalgo County judges. I think it's important to point out the hard work the rank and file judges undertake. Hidalgo County's dockets are as crowded as they come across Texas. It takes a special person to want to tackle that kind of workload.

Yet, there exist the few who do more of a disservice by their judicial service than without their presiding majesties. In fact, Hon. Fidencia Guerra, Jr., has been named one of the worst judges in the State of Texas, by the Texas Observer. I've heard rumors of a hand puppet-talking, sexist judge, but I never knew them to be true, until now. I've heard rumors of DWI judges, too, such as the trial and tribulations of Hon. Rudy Delgado. (It turns out Judge Delgado employed the same criminal defense attorney, Mr. Al Alvarez, that District Clerk Omar Guerrero hired for his pre-election DWI arrest.)

It's not that I'm against their service. We should be happy people do desire to carry their share of public service. (It’s like Shaine Mata said, Americans have a greater sense and culture in community service than others, namely Mexico.) It's that I'm bothered by feeling that this is the best we can put up as a county. Routinely laughed at and criticized by those outside the area, we must take the obvious examples of moral turpitude to consider the qualities of judges--we have to, it's our responsibility under the current system of electing them. We need to scrutinize the judicial candidates, learn what history of public service they maintain? Some semblance of community service and humanitarianism would be better than a successful attorney seeking another feather in his hat. Why do they seek positions of power? Even asking, how do they react to other person's arrest record? A condemnation of shameful acts should be valued over a laissez-faire approach for compadres.

In the meantime, I'm happy to hear more about the judicial candidates. Please let me know what you think. How do they differ? Why choose one person over the other? Unsubstantiated accusations of corruption cannot be sufficient to disfavor anyone, but perhaps their history and attitudes toward legal positions could be a tell-tale sign of their character.

1 comment:

Writer said...

Welcome to RGV Life. Thanks for your interest. I look forward to reading your posts. Good luck.

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