Texans for Public Justice


Just One Elected Judge Is Untainted!
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Just One Elected Judge Is Untainted!
Houston Judges Got $200,550
From Enron and Its Law Firm

Supreme Court Candidates Ray & Wainwright Are Among Them.

The PACs and employees of Enron and its law firm gave $200,550 to the 22 civil state district judges elected in Harris County since 1998.

At a time when Houston courts could face explosive Enron litigation, just four civil district judges there have been elected without Enron money. Just one of these judges, Mark Davidson, took no money from Enron’s law firm, Vinson & Elkins.

These findings are all the more disturbing given that Enron had 79 cases before these judges during this time, according to a recent study by Austin-based Campaigns for People.

Each of the 22 judges had at least one Enron case between 1998 and 2001, with three judges juggling seven Enron cases apiece (Judges Caroline Baker, Harvey Brown, Jr. and Scott Link).

Apart from the scope of this problem in Houston, nothing is new about Texas judges taking money from big-donor interests with cases in their courts. Nonetheless, Enron’s spectacular collapse reinvigorated public scrutiny of such conflicts.

Enron Assistant General Counsel Richard Sanders doubled as the campaign treasurer of two Harris
County district judges: Bruce Oakley and Sherry Radack (who was appointed to a 1st Court of Appeals vacancy in late 2001).

In their most recent elections, Harris County’s 22 elected civil district judges took an average of $7,691 apiece from Enron and Vinson & Elkins. This money accounted for 6 percent of the $3.6 million that these judges raised.

The jurists who took the most money directly from Enron’s PAC and executives were Judges Martha Hill Jamison ($9,500) and Sherry Radack ($6,500). Judge Jane Bland took the most combined money from Enron and its law firm ($26,500).

Judge Bland also took the greatest share of her hefty judicial war chest from Enron and Vinson & Elkins donors (12 percent). Next came Judge Tracy Christopher, who got 10 percent of her modest war chest from these sources.
 

Enron Links To Elected Civil District Judges In Houston, 1998-2001
  Enron
Contributions
Vinson & Elkins
Contributions
Enron + V&E
Contributions
No. of
Enron
Cases
TOTAL: $31,350 $169,200 $200,550 79
AVERAGE: $1,425 $7,691 $9,116 4

 
Houston Civil District Judges With the Most Enron and Vinson & Elkins Money
Dist. Harris Co. Judge
(Year Elected)
Enron
+ V&E
Money
Enron
Money
V&E
Money
Total
Money
Enron
+
V&E
Enron
Cases
281 Jane Bland ('98) $26,500  $1,600 $24,900  $222,135  12% 2
55 Sherry Radack* ('98) $26,250  $6,500 $19,750  $377,851 7% 4
164 Martha Hill Jamison ('00)  $25,550   $9,500 $16,050  $533,952  5% 3
189 Jeff Work ('98) $12,600  $750 $11,850 $157,221 8% 3
127 Sharolyn Wood ('00) $12,300  $1,000 $11,300 $305,418 4% 6
129 Patrick Mizell ('00) $10,500  $1,000 $9,500 $121,650 7% 1
152 Harvey Brown Jr. ('00) $9,450 $1,000 $8,450 $156,200 6% 7
190 John Devine ('98) $8,400 $250 $8,150 $225,077 4% 6
270 Brent Gamble ('98) $8,200 $1,000 $7,200 $132,889 6% 2
215 Levi Benton ('00) $7,950 $1,000 $6,950 $139,217 6% 2
                 *Appointed to a 1st Court of Appeals vacancy in late 2001.

Houston’s highest-profile district judges are Texas Supreme Court candidates Dale Wainwright and Elizabeth Ray. An April 9th Republican runoff could determine which of these judges will rule on future Enron litigation before the state’s highest civil court.

Neither candidate claims the moral high ground on Enron money. While Judge Ray took more money from Enron and its law firm ($7,450), these sources accounted for a slightly higher percentage of the war chest of Judge Wainwright (6 percent), who had three times as many Enron cases as Judge Ray.
 

 Dist Harris Co. Judge
(Year Elected)
Enron
+
V&E
Share
Enron
Money
V&E
Money
Enron
+ V&E
Money
Total
Money
Enron
Cases
281 Jane Bland ('98) 12%  $1,600   $24,900   $26,500   $222,135  2
295 Tracy Christopher ('98) 10% $0  $250  $250  $2,500  3
129 Patrick Mizell ('00) 9% $1,000  $9,500  $10,500  $121,650  1
133 Lamar McCorkle ('00) 8% $500  $6,300  $6,800  $81,325  1
189 Jeff Work ('98) 8% $750  $11,850  $12,600  $157,221  3
55 Sherry Radack* ('98) 7% $6,500  $19,750  $26,250  $377,851  4
270 Brent Gamble ('98) 6% $1,000  $7,200  $8,200  $132,889  2
152 Harvey Brown Jr. ('00) 6% $1,000  $8,450  $9,450  $156,200  7
215 Levi Benton ('00) 6% $1,000  $6,950  $7,950  $139,217  2
334 Dale Wainwright ('00) 6% $1,000  $5,000  $6,000  $109,110  3
165 Elizabeth Ray ('00) 5% $2,000  $5,450  $7,450  $140,126  1
                  *Appointed to a 1st Court of Appeals vacancy in late 2001.
 
 

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Texans for Public Justice is a non-partisan, non-profit policy & research organization
 which tracks the influence of money in politics.