There's a very telling article in this morning's Houston Chronicle about the way Mikal Watts practices law. I'm not entirely surprised to learn that it's the same way he campaigns for public office — he throws money around and makes sure everyone knows he's throwing money around.
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Mikal Watts of San Antonio once tried to pressure a legal opponent into a $60 million personal injury lawsuit settlement by claiming he would have an advantage on appeal because of his firm's “heavy” campaign financial support to an appellate court's justices, “all of whom are good Democrats.”
“This letter seems to confirm what everybody thinks about Texas justice. Very seldom is it this well-articulated,” said Craig McDonald of Texans for Public Justice, an organization that advocates for campaign finance reform. “It confirms the fact Texas courts are filled with politics.”
And not just politics — pay to play politics.
What made the letter unusual was the linking of campaign contributions to sitting justices and the potential of an appeal.
The letter then noted that if the case went to appeal, it would go to the 13th Court of Appeals.
“This court is comprised of six justices, all of whom are good Democrats,” Watts wrote. “The Chief Justice, Hon. Rogelio Valdez, was recently elected with our firm's heavy support, and is a man who believes in the sanctity of jury verdicts.”
The letter goes on to name Justices Errlinda Castillo, Nelda Rodriguez, J. Bonner Dorsey, Federico Hinojosa and Linda Yanez, and says his firm also has financially supported them.
Watts and his law firm in 1999 donated $5,000 to Valdez and $2,500 to Rodriguez; in 2000, $15,000 to Hinojosa; and in January 2001, $10,000 to Castillo. The firm donated $50,000 to Yanez in 2002.
I highlighted Linda Yanez' name because she's running for Texas Supreme Court (again). If Watts' outrageous claims are true, then not only is she a perennial candidate, she's one who can be bought. Not what we need on the court or representing our party as a nominee for statewide office.