Shared from the 8/28/2019 Houston Chronicle eEdition

Ex-appellate judge picked for Texas Supreme Court

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Bland

Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday appointed former Houston appeals court justice Jane Bland, one of several down-ballot Republicans who lost their races in November to Democrats, to the Texas Supreme Court.

Bland, 54, served for more than 20 years as a trial and appellate judge before moving to private practice and becoming a partner at Vinson & Elkins, the largest law firm in Houston and one of the largest in the state.

“I’m very honored to have been appointed by Gov. Abbott, and I just look forward to working with the dedicated judges in our state judiciary to work hard for the people of Texas,” Bland said Monday.

The Texas Senate would normally need to approve the appointment, but with the body being in recess, she will hold the role until the 2020 election when she’ll need to win in astatewide election to serve the remainder of Brown’s term, which ends in 2024.

Bland, who received both her bachelor of business administration and law degrees from the University of Texas at Austin, will replace Justice Jeff Brown, who was appointed by President Donald Trump to the federal bench and confirmed by the Senate last month.

“Jane Bland is an experienced and proven legal expert whose respect for the Constitution is unmatched,” Abbott said in a statement

Monday. “As she assumes her new role on the Supreme Court, the people of Texas can rest assured that she will uphold the rule of law and be a good steward of the justice system. I am honored to appoint Jane to the highest court in Texas and am grateful for her service to our great state.”

Bland had served on the Texas First Court of Appeals since 2003. Prior to that, she was a civil trial court judge in Harris County for six years.

When Bland assumes the new role, it won’t be the first time she’s sat on the Texas Supreme Court bench. In March 2006, after being selected by Gov. Rick Perry to sit by special commission to replace a recused justice, she delivered the majority opinion in Hyundai Motor Co. v. Vasquez, a case that set certain jury selection principles in Texas trial courts.

The appointment marks Abbott’s third pick for the state’s highest civil court. In February, Abbott appointed Brett Busby, a former Houston appellate court judge who also lost his seat in the November election, to the Texas Supreme Court. Abbott this year has appointed several judges who lost their reelection campaigns during the partisan wave.

Gordon Goodman defeated Bland by less than two percentage points in the midst of a Democratic sweep that caused upsets to many down-ballot Republicans, including 19 incumbent state appeals judges.

Bland said the 2018 general was “not a great election” for people running on the Republican ticket because of straight-ticket voting, which allowed voters to choose all of a single party’s candidates with a single selection at the top of the ballot. It will no longer be an option in 2020 after the Republican-led Texas Legislature passed a bill nixing it in 2017.

“In the next election, there won’t be straight-party voting,” Bland said. “It’s an opportunity for judges to educate voters about the judiciary and quality of judges.”

Republican Party of Texas Chairman James Dickey commended Abbott on his choice of Bland.

“Her judicial pedigree is irrefutable and her temperament on the bench is precisely suited for the heavy caseload and weighty issues that come before the Texas Supreme Court,” Dickey said. “She is widely respected by her peers and was an outstanding jurist during her tenure on the Court of Appeals, as evidenced by her excellent results in judicial preference polls over the years. Justice Bland will be awonderful addition to the Texas Supreme Court.”

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