Jessica M. Karmasek Apr. 17, 2013, 4:00pm

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) -- U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, both Texas Republicans, announced this week the members of the state's bipartisan Federal Judicial Evaluation Committee.

The committee, composed of Texas attorneys, will screen and recommend to the two senators nominees for vacancies on the federal bench and in U.S. Attorney offices in the state.

"Texans deserve able, fair and independent prosecutors and judges, and I'm proud to join Sen. Cruz in reconstituting this bipartisan committee to ensure individuals who are of the highest caliber are confirmed expeditiously and can begin serving Texas as soon as possible," Cornyn said in a statement Monday.

Cruz agreed.

"It is crucial that we ensure Texans have the best, most qualified judges and prosecutors defending their rights in court," he said in a statement. "I am glad to work alongside Sen. Cornyn in re-establishing this committee, and thank the attorneys willing to serve this effort and ensure the timely filling of court vacancies."

Those attorneys include:

- Chairman -- David Prichard (San Antonio, partner, Prichard Hawkins McFarland & Young)

- Vice Chair -- Raul Gonzalez (Austin, solo practitioner)

- Vice Chair -- James Ho (Dallas, partner, Gibson Dunn)

- David Beck (Houston, partner, Beck Redden LLP)

- John Beckworth (Houston, partner, Watt Beckworth)

- Maria Wyckoff Boyce (Houston, partner, Baker Botts)

- Zach Brady (Lubbock, partner, Brady & Hamilton LLP)

- George Bramblett (Dallas, partner, Haynes & Boone)

- David Cabrales (Dallas, partner, Locke Lord)

- James Cousar (Austin, partner, Thompson & Knight)

- Erin Nealy Cox (Dallas, executive managing director, Stroz Friedberg)

- Steve Cox (Houston, corporate counsel, Apache Corporation)

- Janet Dhillon (Plano, general counsel, JC Penney)

- Brady Edwards (Houston, partner, Morgan Lewis)

- Charles Eskridge (Houston, partner, Susman Godfrey LLP)

- Jaime Esparza (El Paso, district attorney, 34th Judicial District)

- Larry Finder (Houston, partner, Baker & McKenzie)

- Allyson Ho (Dallas, partner, Morgan Lewis)

- Gaylord Hughey (Tyler, solo practitioner)

- Bill Jones (Austin, owner, The Jones Firm)

- Dee Kelly Jr. (Fort Worth, managing partner, Kelly Hart)

- Bradley Knippa (Austin, partner, Jackson Walker LLP)

- W. Gregory Looser (Houston, senior vice president, Pride International Inc.)

- George McWilliams (Texarkana, solo practitioner)

- Connie Pfeiffer (Houston, partner, Beck Redden LLP)

- Tom Phillips (Austin, partner, Baker Botts)

- Adam Ross (Dallas, founder & CEO, Goldcrest Investments)

- Kelly Shackelford (Plano, president & CEO, Liberty Institute)

- Kent Sullivan (Austin, partner, Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP)

- Steve Susman (Houston, partner, Susman Godfrey LLP)

- Andy Taylor (Houston, founder, Andy Taylor & Associates, P.C.)

- Michael Truncale (Beaumont, partner, Orgain Bell & Tucker, LLP)

- Lori Valenzuela (San Antonio, judge, 437th District Court)

- Manny Vela (Harlingen, president & CEO, Valley Baptist Health System)

- Margaret Wilson (Austin, general counsel, Texas Department of Motor Vehicles)

Texans for a Fair Judiciary said this week it was "encouraged" by the senators' creation of the panel.

However, the coalition of nonprofits is now urging the committee to move forward and quickly propose "qualified and diverse" judicial candidates that the senators can recommend to President Barack Obama for nomination.

Both Cornyn and Cruz are members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.

"There is a crisis in our courts, and we are encouraged that after nearly two years, our U.S. senators are finally addressing the problem," Progress Texas Executive Director Matt Glazer said Tuesday.

"Sens. Cornyn and Cruz have taken the first steps of a long journey toward actually filling the judicial vacancies in Texas, which have crippled Texas courts and made it harder for ordinary Texans to have their day in court. We hope that today's statement is a sign that our senators in Washington are listening to the people of Texas and addressing this real problem rather than just pushing it down the road."

Texas currently has six vacancies in its federal district courts, four of which have been deemed "judicial emergencies" by the Federal Judicial Conference because there are too few judges to handle the caseload.

There will be one more seat vacated on a Texas district court in July.

Some judicial seats in Texas have been vacant for nearly 1,600 days, and judges from outside the state have been flown in to help handle the Texas caseload.

Texans for a Fair Judiciary includes Progress Texas, Mi Familia Vota, Texas Freedom Network, La Fe, Texas Watch, Texans Together, National Council of Jewish Women, Texans for Public Justice, Texas League of Conservation Voters, Equality Texas, The League of Young Voters and Empower The Vote.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at

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