In Houston in 2008 Steven Kirkland was elected to a 4-year term as a state Civil District Judge. Several other Democrats were also elected to judgeships and ended several years of GOP sweeps in Harris County.
In 2012 a certain lawyer had a grudge against Steve and recruited and financed an opponent, who defeated him in the Democratic primary. This year Steve is trying for a comeback, to the 113th Civil District Court, but the same disgruntled lawyer has recruited another primary opponent.
I met Steve in 1983 when he was an aide to a City Council candidate, before he even thought of going into law. Early in 2009, right after he was elected, I attended his investiture (like an inauguration) and one thing he did was to address the audience about who he was. When he introduced his life partner (a male of the species) the audience applauded. Many in that audience were leaders in the Harris County Democratic Party.
The year 2012 saw a primary campaign against Steve that was truly scurrilous. I was among many who got a robo-call about a very old drunk driving conviction from 1984, date omitted. One piece from the opponent included a photo of Steve with a fluted glass in his hand. Also the opponent cited a different Steven Kirkland in Georgia who had a DWI from an accident that killed someone. Steve got endorsements from about every Democratic club, but lost the primary. Steve is a recovering alcoholic of thirty years and an inspiration to many who are trying to turn their lives around
When Steve was getting his life back together after 1984 he decided to go into law. He got his law degree in 1990 from the University of Houston Law School. Prior to 2008 he served as a Houston municipal judge.
Steve is one of the few Democrats in Harris County who has a contested primary. Some people do not forget grudges. The same lawyer appears as a major contributor in this year's opponent's finance report.
Steve has been rated as well qualified by the poll of the Harris County Bar Association. I have noticed that he has a knack for clarity; he gets down to the essentials when talking about law. I am sure he is good at explaining the law to a jury.
Campaigns cost money. You can help by making a donation through his website. If you have friends in the Houston area, please ask them to vote for Steve in the primary. He will be on the Democratic ballot all over Harris County. Early voting starts Tuesday Feb. 18 and the regular election day is Tuesday, March 4. This race cannot have a runoff because there is only one opponent. There is a Republican incumbent.
Even if you do not live in Houston or Texas, there could very well be a race like this one in your community. We cannot afford to let disgruntled lawyers bully our judges.
In the metropolitan counties of Texas the process of electing judges is far from satisfactory. Judicial districts are composed of whole countries, but the larger counties elect a huge number of district and other judges countywide. A bedsheet ballot. Few voters have the opportunity to know what they need to know about judicial candidates. District courts are the major trial courts; district judges are elected to 4-year terms. Harris County has some 70 district judges and half of them are on the ballot every even-numbered year.
And this message is my own, not paid for by anyone. I am a volunteer supporter, not paid staff. I am not a lawyer, and have not been in any cases before Judge Kirkland's courts.