State constitutional amendments would change who can run for judge, what they can campaign on

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HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) — There are eight state constitutional amendments to vote on this year, two of which deal with regulating who can run for judge and what they’re able to do while campaigning.

In Texas, judges are elected positions that you currently need four years of experience to run for, but Proposition Four would require a candidate to have eight years of experience practicing law before they can run.

“The idea behind it is so that you don’t have a person riding a purely political wave without qualifications and experience to rule on the very important things they need to rule on,” Rick Barrera, an attorney in Harlingen said.

Proposition four would also require candidates for the Texas Court of Appeals or Texas Supreme Court to have 10 years of experience practicing law in the state before being elected. Currently, both those positions require eight years and allow for experience outside the state to apply.

Should this proposition pass, it would shrink the candidate pool, something Barrera said would be beneficial.

He said that having more strict rules for who can do the job “actually increases the quality of the choices you get to make” for the positions.

Another proposition on the ballot is Proposition Five. It would more evenly regulate the rules for campaigning for judge positions.

Right now, the State Commission on Judicial Conduct can investigate judges for statements they make during elections.  Proposition five would extend that power to candidates running for judge, leveling the playing field.

“That is incredibly important because a judicial candidate, for example, may make a claim on how they would rule in certain types of cases or what they would do,” Barrera said. Incumbent judges wouldn’t be allowed to make such statements because of the guidelines put in place by the commission.

Barrera said it is important for judges to be elected based on their ability, and not their beliefs because they have so much power.

“Courts in our county control everything from children to juvenile conduct to the disposition of property, all the way to challenges on taxes and of course protecting the public from crime,” he explained.

Barrera said anyone wishing to become more informed about the eight propositions could contact his law office at (956) 428-2822.

Early voting in Texas takes place from October 18 until October 29. Election Day is November 2.

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