Substantial effort goes into our endorsements – both the candidate research as well as candidate promotion. And we’re proud of the performance of those candidates we endorsed whom have been elected. Ted Cruz, Greg Bonnen, Henry Trochessett, John Kinard, Cheryl Johnson… the list goes on.
We took major heat in the last primary over the decision to endorse former Judge Wayne Mallia over candidate Michelle Slaughter. Worried about Michelle’s relative inexperience and the lack of substance in the hyper partisan arguments made in favor of her, we decided the best course was to stick with the incumbent. Wailing and gnashing of teeth ensued. Given all that, we wish to state firmly, for the record, that we could not be more pleased at Judge Slaughter’s performance in her first year on the bench.
THE COMPLEXITY OF ASSESSING A COURT’S PERFORMANCE
Assessing the performance of a court is a complex matter, as there are many variables in play. Multi district litigation (MDL) such as asbestos and TWIA involve courts in other districts so these are tough for the local judge to move along. Also, capital punishment cases as well as complex civil cases (ex. BP) can take weeks to try and the assignment of these can be uneven. Therefore, while our method – cases received, cases disposed, backlog – is imperfect, it’s equally imperfect across all courts and judges and so merits consideration as an indicator of the efficiency and the overall work effort being put forth by a judge.
ANALYSIS: CRIMINAL CASES, BY THE NUMBERS. SLAUGHTER EXCELS.
The chart nearby shows the total of all criminal cases assigned and disposed of by each court for the 2013 calendar year. In addition, an “Average” has been created to show a benchmark as well as a “Median” to illustrate the middle point between the highest and lowest – typical stuff in any statistical analysis.
Some criminal backlog will always exist. When the defendants skip town, it’s tough to move the case along. Instead, they stay on the docket for years, building the total backlog year after year. Given this context and recognizing that the 405th cleared 130 more cases than the next highest court, the overall performance is outstanding.
ANALYSIS: CIVIL CASES, BY THE NUMBERS. SLAUGTHER EXCELS.
As described above, MDL cases involve other courts and so if the local judge is not the MDL judge, they are limited in their ability to move these cases forward. With that context in mind, we look at the analysis for all of 2013 for Slaughter and see that again her performance is up to par.
We’re told that Judge Slaughter inherited some “docket blockers”, cases which are anticipated to take many weeks to try. The 405th had several of these which were three or more years old. These are included in the nearly 200 other backlogged cases that Judge Slaughter cleared out.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE
Additional points of merit include:
- Eliminated the predecessor’s STEP program wherein repeat felony probationers were receiving a slap on the wrist
- Sentenced a child predator to 99 years in prison
- Refused to allow unnecessary continuances of cases, thereby saving civil litigants thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees
- Saved tax-payer dollars by carefully scrutinizing and reducing court-appointed attorney’s fees vouchers to eliminate excessive billing
- Examined plea agreements made between prosecutors and criminal defendants to ensure victims received justice due
- Promoted increased communication between prosecutors and law enforcement
- Promoted intensive drug treatment for drug addicted defendants who sought help to reduce recidivism and assist with rehabilitation
- Created a policy in the 405th for DWI probation cases mandating the use of an ankle monitor to detect alcohol use, replacing the prior policy of vehicle interlock device only.
NOT ON THE BALLOT BUT STILL HEAVILY COMMUNITY INVOLVED
To add to these court-specific highlights, though Judge Slaughter is not on the ballot in this cycle she remains involved in the GOP and conservative causes. For instance, we’ve been pleased to see Michelle at party executive committee meetings and various networking events, candidate forums, as well as assisting in the formation of the Hispanic Republicans of Galveston County.
It’s human nature to criticize and highlight problems requiring correction. Good performance, particularly in an elected office, can be easily ignored. We hope you will join us in applauding Judge Michelle Slaughter for her overall fabulousness.