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Houston Breakthrough, November 1980
Page 20
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Houston Breakthrough, November 1980 - Page 20. November 1980. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. December 19, 2014. http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/3680/show/3671.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(November 1980). Houston Breakthrough, November 1980 - Page 20. Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/3680/show/3671

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Houston Breakthrough, November 1980 - Page 20, November 1980, Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed December 19, 2014, http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/3680/show/3671.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Houston Breakthrough, November 1980
Publisher Breakthrough Publishing Co.
Date November 1980
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women
  • Texas
  • Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
Subject.Geographic (TGN)
  • Houston, Texas
Genre (AAT)
  • periodicals
Language English
Physical Description 28 page periodical
Type (DCMI)
  • Text
  • Image
Format (IMT)
  • image/jpeg
Original Item Location Call # HQ1101.B74
Original Item URL http://library.uh.edu/record=b2332724~S11
Digital Collection Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters
Digital Collection URL http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Repository URL http://info.lib.uh.edu/about/campus-libraries-collections/special-collections
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the UH Digital Library About page.
File name index.cpd
Item Description
Title Page 20
File name femin_201109_565r.jpg
Transcript CAMPAIGN '80 ** JUDICIAL • •' HOW TO JUDGE Voters need a crash course in the third arm of the government. Fewer than half of us who show up to vote at the polls vote in the judicial races. The irony is that the people we elect to these offices make decisions that directly affect our lives. Legislators do write our laws, but judges regularly interpret, define and apply these laws. Judges can dismiss our rape cases, they take away our children, our property, or our freedom. By any standard, they wield significant power in our society. On November 4, voters will be expected to know what goes on in district court and county court, the difference between a criminal court and a civil court, which judges know the law, and which ones are asleep at the bench. Most of what the electorate has to know in order to consider judicial candidates intelligently is not a matter of public record. Attorneys and prosecutors do not want to jeopardize themselves or their clients by making negative public statements about an incumbent judge or an opponent. The judicial system is no more familiar to the layperson than are the personalities behind the courtroom doors. What a voter needs is a crash course in the third arm of the government. The Texas court system can be pictured as a five-tiered pyramid with the Justice of the Peace and Municipal Courts at the very bottom. JP courts are trial courts with limited jurisdiction (Offenses where the punishment is $200 or less). Municipal courts hear cases involving violations of city ordinances The next step up is the county courts, trial courts with limited original, and some appellate, jurisdiction. On the third tier are the district courts, general trial courts hearing more serious cases, with original and some appellate jurisdiction. Above the district courts sit the 14 intermediate appellate courts which hear only cases on appeal, with minor technical exceptions. At the very top are the supreme court and the court of criminal appeals. These are the state's appellate courts of last resort. There are two types of cases that move through the courts, criminal cases and civil cases. In Texas, a crime is an offense committed against the community, ranging from writing worthless checks and smoking pot to felonies such as murder, kidnapping and rape. Civil courts hear everything except criminal cases, that is, private disputes, usually between two people and usually business-related. Civil cases include insurance cases, breach of Judith Goodkin is a freelance writer. -BY JUDITH GOODKIN- contract, divorce, probate matters and custody cases. All state and county court judges are elected. Technically. In fact, judges dutifully retire mid-term, allowing the governor to pick a successor. Traditionally, appointees run unopposed in the following election. This practice has given the state a majority of Democratic judges, and the Governor of Texas the power to appoint the judiciary without a mandate from the people. Even this year, with rumors of a Republican sweep in Texas, only 23 of the 47 judicial races are being contested. All but one of the uncontested candidates is a Democrat. Locally, the most hotly contested judicial races are for the family and juvenile benches with Clements-appointed incumbents. Family and juvenile courts are distinct from other courts because decisions and dispositions (sentencing) are left to the discretion of the judge. "It's not black and white in family courts," explains one attorney, "so much is left to the discretion of the judge, and that is translatable as power. How a judge thinks about women, for example, may color how decisions are made to determine a property split or custody." More than with any other court, attorneys stress the importance of a qualified, humane judge on the family court bench. "Unless you have practiced family law," said one attorney, "you cannot see the effect of judgments on people's lives." Appealing cases from family and juvenile courts is more difficult than appealing from other courts, because, as an attorney laments, "It is almost impossible to appeal the 'discretion of the judge' and most defendants in family courts cannot afford the appeal process." Juvenile courts, the most obscure and fascinating of the family courts, hear child-abuse cases, adoptions and cases concerning delinquent conduct. A juvenile is a child aged 10 through 16. A juvenile court judge can hold a non-juried certification hearing to determine if a juvenile, over age 15, accused of a serious crime, should be certified to stand trial as an adult. 314th Family District Court In the race for the 314th Family District court, a juvenile court, incumbent Robert B. Baum (R) is being challenged by Geraldine (Gerry) B. Tennant (D). Running against an eminently qualified woman, Baum has nevertheless garnered strong support from some feminists be- 314th Family District (Juvenile) Court: Republican incumbent Judge Robert Baum 314th Family District (Juvenile) Court: Democratic challenger Geraldine Tennant cause of his long-time support of the ERA, Baum has a reputation as a "hanging judge," leaning to the state's side in certification hearings. In July, the appellate court reversed one of Baum's decisions to certify a juvenile as an adult. (Baum had denied this defendant's request for a mental fitness hearing to determine if the defendant was mentally fit to proceed to trial.) Baum is also faulted, by lawyers who practiced in his court, for his lack of experience in juvenile matters and his lack of knowledge of family law. Baum counters that he has over one year's active judicial experience hearing juvenile cases and he has a good knowledge of community services available to rehabilitate juveniles. Tennant's supporters say she has more juvenile law experience. She was the Referee for the three juvenile courts for 6Y2 years, resigning to resume her law practice and file for this election. The Referee holds hearings at the Detention Center where juveniles await their court date. (There is no bond for juveniles.) "I have seen thousands of juveniles and their families, and I know the resources available to them," Tennant asserts. Tennant is endorced by the Association of Women Attorneys (see box), one of whose members noted the absence of women on the family court bench. On this issue Tennant says, "Ideally, your background shouldn't influence your decisions, but you do have sympathy with what you've experienced. I know what it's like to rear three children alone. Your background has some bearing. It has to." 309th Family District Court Alvin L. Zimmerman (R) a former civil lawyer, is being challenged by A. Robert Hinojosa (D) a family law specialist, for the 309th Family District Court. Experience is the issue in this race. "Before Alvin Zimmerman was appointed he was never in a family court," says one attorney. "He was never on the other side of the bench. If you practice a certain type of law, you know how to make procedure calls and have a familiarity with current case law. Frequently a judge doesn't have time to do research." Another dissatisfied family attorney declares, "it is appalling to me that Judge Zimmerman was appointed without experience, and is learning on the job." Zimmerman, recognized as likeable and pro-family, even by his opponents, comments, "I will stand on my record. I have heard and disposed of over 1,000 cases in my six months on the bench. A judge must be responsible, caring, and have compassion. A specialty in family law doesn't test compassion." Hinojosa has practiced family law for 11 years and is a family law specialist. He is endorsed by the Association of Women Attorneys (see box). Association of Women Attorneys Endorsements The Association of Women Attorneys has endorsed eight candidates for judge in the November 4 election. The endorsements reflect the Association's decision to become more active in the promotion of judicial candidates, as well as its ongoing committment to promote recognition of women attorneys and to eliminate discrimination against women attorneys. The three women and six men were endorsed by the Association on the basis of qualifications, judicial temperament and knowledge of the law applicable to the position sought: Pat Lykos County Crim. Ct. No. 10 Geraldine Tennant 314th Juv. Dist. Ct. Sherlyn Woods 113th Civil Dist. Ct. Ed Landry County Civil Ct. No. 2 Robert Hinojosa 309th Fam. Dist. Ct. Lynn Hughes 165th Civil Dist. Ct. Ken Harrison 151st Civil Dist. Ct. Miron Love 177th Crim. Dist. Ct. Jack Smith First Ct. of Civil Appeals Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals The highest courts of appeal in the State are the Supreme Court, which hears civil cases, and the Court of Criminal Appeals, which hears criminal cases. Both courts sit in Austin and have a chief justice and eight associate justices elected for six-year staggered terms. The salary for an associate justice on either high court is $52,400. The three candidates for judge, Court of Criminal Appeals, are running unopposed. Of the four races for Associate Justice, Supreme Court, two are being contested. The Court of Civil Appeals is an intermediate civil court between the trial courts and the supreme court. At present, this court hears civil cases only, but a "yes" vote on constitutional amendment number 8, further down the ballot, gives the civil court of appeals criminal jurisdiction and changes the court's name. 20 HOUSTON BREAKTHROUGH