Republicans have held every seat on both the Texas Supreme Court and the Court of Criminal Appeals for more than 20 years. But the state’s high courts would be slightly more bipartisan and diverse if it were only up to the members of the State Bar of Texas, according to its 2018 Judicial Poll.
Of the six seats up for grabs on the Supreme Court and the CCA in the Nov. 6 general election, the state’s lawyers favor seating Democrats in half—including two on the Supreme Court and one to head the CCA—according to the poll tallied on February 6.
In the race for Supreme Court Place 2, lawyers chose Democrat Steven Kirkland, a Houston state district judge and the first openly gay candidate to run for the court over Republican incumbent Justice Jimmy Blacklock, a former general counsel to Gov. Greg Abbott, who was appointed to the court in November. Kirkland received 2,500 votes while Blacklock received 1,821 votes.
In the race for Supreme Court Place 4, lawyers chose Democrat R.K. “Ravi” Sandhill, another Houston state district judge and the first South Asian candidate to run for the court, over Republican incumbent Justice John Devine, who has served on the court since his election in 2013. Sandhill received 2,446 votes while Devine received 1,957 votes.
In the race for Supreme Court Place 6, lawyers chose incumbent Republican Justice Jeff Brown, who has served on the court since his appointment by Gov. Rick Perry in 2013, over Houston attorney Kathy Cheng. Brown received 2,391 votes while Cheng received 2,129 votes.
In the race for presiding judge of the CCA, lawyers chose state district Judge Maria T. “Terri” Jackson, a Democrat, over incumbent Republican Sharon Keller, who has served as the CCA’s head judge since 2001. Jackson received 1,581 votes while Keller received 1,444 votes. Republican David Bridges, a justice on Dallas’ Fifth Court of Appeals, received 620 votes while Libertarian William Bryan Strange III of Dallas received 522 votes.
In the race for CCA Place 7, lawyers chose incumbent Republican Judge Barbara Hervey, who was first elected to the court in 2000, over Democrat Ramona Franklin, a Houston state district judge. Hervey received 2,156 votes while Franklin received 1,725.
And in the race for CCA Place 8, lawyers chose Republican Galveston state district Judge Michelle Slaughter over three other candidates for this open seat. Slaughter received 989 votes, while Republican Jay Brandon, a Bexar county prosecutor, received 958 votes, Libertarian Mark Ash, a Houston lawyer, received 809 votes and Republican Dib Waldrip, a Comal County district court judge, received 718 votes. No Democrat candidate has entered this race.
According to the State Bar of Texas, the poll is not an endorsement by its officers, directors or staff, and only reflects the opinions of the individual lawyers who participated.