Like the state itself
Like the state itself, the Texas judicial system is extensive and complex. It uses the common law system, which depends on written laws as well as the judges' interpretations of those laws over time. However, for decades, the Texas judicial system has been criticized for its inability to promote judicial independence. Judicial independence allows judges to perform their duties free of influence or control by other actors whether private or governmental. A judge is independent if he or she can make impartial rulings without the influence of preconceptions, personal ideas or conflicts of interest. A judge is expected to apply the law when making decisions and not his own beliefs. A judge is capable if he or she has the intelligence and experience to rule on very complex cases.
In most states in the U.S
In most states in the U.S, judges are usually appointed. Texas, however, appoints and retains its judges through a string of judicial elections that disconcertedly partisan. By utilizing partisan elections in the election of judges, Texas prizes accountability over independence in the judiciary. The state has been widely criticized because of this policy. For the last thirty to forty years, both Democrat and Republican Chef Justices have been appealing to the lawmakers to alter the manner in which judges are appointed to the bench in Texas. The system has been called broken. Even the Texas Supreme Court's former chief justice, Wallace Jefferson has disavowed the age-old practice repeatedly, most notably
Undoubtedly, this policy has some advantages
Undoubtedly, this policy has some advantages. Proponents argue that the notion of local control for judges elected at the local level is typically strengthened when people elect the judges. Governors might not be aware of local needs and thus may appoint judges who will not address the needs of the people. Supporters of the policy also claim that it makes the judges accountable to the people. Hence, a judge can simply be voted out of office if the people are displeased with his performance.
Opponents of the policy claim
Opponents of the policy claim that fundraising undermines the confidence in a fair and impartial judicial system. A judge who wishes to retain the seat at the bench merely has to find a way to reach the voters. The media market is the only means that judges can talk to the voters. Texas has roughly twenty-six million people, and a judge has to find a way to reach most of these voters if they are running a statewide campaign. A judge will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to mail campaign literature (Corriher). The idea of accountability also fails to work since the voters do not know the judges. They have no knowledge regarding the background or experience of the judicial candidates, and they cannot be expected to them.
Voters have access to a limited amount of information
Voters have access to a limited amount of information and therefore are likely to vote based on one case and not on the qualification of the judge. The people could vote out a judge simple because they did not like one of the decisions the judge made even if it was the right decision based on law. This might prompt a judge to make a decision that will please the people even if it is unlawful. Furthermore, a voter is highly likely to vote for a judge because of the political views he or she holds rather than the capability to perform the duties efficiently. Hence, when voters increasingly vote based on partisan affiliation, the entire judicial system might become compromised. The fact is, politicizing the legal system undermines the independence of the judges significantly and it is probably time for this age-old tradition to be changed (Corriher).
Corriher, Billy. Center of American Progress. 25 October 2012. Internet Source. 15 October 2018. .