Texas Decides 2018 Voters Guide
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Voters Guide

Justice, 5th Court of Appeals, Place 9

6-year term. Hears appeals on civil and criminal cases from lower courts in its district. Current Salary: $154,500Plazo de 6 años. Escucha apelaciones sobre casos civiles y penales de los tribunales inferiores en su distrito. Salario actual: $ 154,500.

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    Jason Boatright

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    Bill Pedersen

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Biographical Information

Background: What training, experience, and background qualify you for this position?

Access to Justice: What recent technological developments provide opportunities to improve the state's indigent defense system in civil and criminal cases?

Responsibilities: Which responsibility of a Justice, Court of Appeals, is your highest priority and why?

As a justice on the court of appeals, I write legal opinions that solve complex legal problems. I did that for many years before I joined the court, first as an attorney on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, then as Chief of the Texas Attorney General's Opinions Division, where I issued legal opinions to district attorneys and state officials.
Worldwide, public, and free access to databases like the Texas State Law Library's legal scholarship accounts and historical Texas statutes collection, as well as powerful new research tools like Google Scholar, give indigent defendants access to more legal information today than even the most exclusive law firms could get just a decade ago. The Texas Constitution requires that courts be open to give everyone a remedy by due course of law. I welcome any technology that helps make that happen.
My highest priority is to uphold my oath. I swore to defend the Texas Constitution, which vests judges with judicial authority: the power to say what the law is. The Texas Constitution forbids me from using legislative authority: the power to make law. I decide each case only on the text of applicable law as it is written, and I explain clearly and logically why the text requires the decision I make. My years of experience writing official Texas legal opinions made me able to uphold my oath.
I have been a prosecutor, criminal defense attorney, and plaintiff's and defense counsel, in almost every type of dispute the Fifth Court of Appeals hears. I have handled probate, civil, commercial, family law, and commercial disputes, and handled every type of criminal matter from traffic tickets to capital murder. I have handled many appeals.
I think that electronic filing and teleconferences with clients, if improved and secure, can make many more lawyers available for Texas litigants. Lawsuits are too expensive and complex for regular folks to meaningfully access the courthouse, and disputes are needlessly extended and obstructed by many courthouse practices. Examples include overly technical local rules and unnecessary court appearances.
My highest priority will be to ensure that the cases I hear provide meaningful access to justice to the parties, and requiring that trial courts follow Texas law.