Tag Archives: Randall County Court at Law

Judge to step aside … and avoid a donnybrook

Texans love electing officials to public office. Even judges.

We elect them on partisan labels, which I’ve long hated. But in more than 30 years watching judicial races unfold in Texas, it’s rare to find an incumbent judge who’s doing a good job on the bench receive three challengers in a partisan primary contest.

Accordingly, the news that Randall County Court at Law No. 2 Judge Ronnie Walker will forgo a re-election campaign next year shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.

He had three challengers awaiting him next spring. The very idea that Judge Walker would attract such an aggressive primary opposition made me wonder immediately: What has he done to incur this challenge?

We won’t have to answer that question directly as the Republican Party primary campaign for Court at Law No. 2 develops. The challengers won’t have Judge Ronnie Walker to kick around.

If I were still in the daily print journalism game, I would be inclined to ask all the challengers precisely why they chose to run against an incumbent judge. Randall and Potter County political history has revealed to me an extreme reluctance among the local bar association to challenge incumbents who are doing a good — if not great — job in administering justice.

An incumbent generally is doing a bad job on the bench to draw the number of challengers that Ronnie Walker attracted. That’s at least what I’ve noted over many years watching Texas judicial campaigns.

As the Amarillo Globe-News reported: Walker said he would “continue to maintain the high standards and quality of my court” through his term, which ends Dec. 31, 2018.

“I will always appreciate the support and confidence of the people of Randall County who voted me in office beginning Jan. 2, 2007, as the first and only judge of the newly created Randall County Court at Law No. 2,” he wrote in his statement. “Randall County jurors are the greatest, possessing an ideal blend of attentiveness, logic, reasonableness and fairness.”

Still, the question lingers: What — if anything — did this guy do to attract such a vigorous primary challenge?

Witnessing some good in a trial courtroom

Trial courts aren’t usually the place where one finds warmth and happiness.

But we found it today and we were glad to have witnessed it.

Some friends of ours — a young couple — adopted a little boy this morning in a Randall County Court-at-Law courtroom in Canyon, Texas. The judge issued the oath that instructed them to tell “nothing but the truth” in answering questions.

They did as the judge instructed. Then the judge declared that the little boy is now a member of this lovely young family, which includes a big brother.

Courtrooms so often are the scene of misery and pain. Criminal defendants stand trial for their lives. Some of them are delivered justice and sent away to prison, causing grief for their families. Those who are acquitted are cheered by such a result, but the victims of the deed they allegedly perpetrated are left to tend to their own ongoing misery.

Civil litigants cause — and receive — their share of pain as well. Only one side can “win” in such a case. The other side loses and, well, their anger continues to fester.

Adoption is another breed of creature. The parties who stand before the judge are there to make themselves whole. Indeed, this morning a young man — an adult — was formally adopted by another couple. His happiness, and theirs, was evident as they walked out of the courtroom.

So it was with our friends. The little boy now has a new last name. The judge came down from behind his bench for some picture-taking.

We all gravitated into the hall where the family posed for more pictures.

A deputy prosecutor with the Criminal District Attorney’s office walked by. He and I are acquainted. We shook hands. He asked, “What are you doing here?” I told him we were there to attend an adoption hearing.

“That’s the only good thing that comes out of these courtrooms,” he said with a smile.

It’s not the “only good thing,” but the proceeding we witnessed this morning certainly brightened our day.