David Yates Jan. 27, 2014, 6:31pm
HOUSTON (Legal Newsline) - Knowing that it would be next to impossible to elect a Democrat, trial lawyers are now financing the political campaigns of Republicans seeking to usurp Texas's current Supreme Court justices, according to a legal reform group.
In the upcoming March primary, three out of the four Texas Supreme Court justices up for reelection will face competition from members of their own Republican party.
For example, current Chief Justice Nathan Hecht will square off against former state Rep. Robert E. Talton, who raised $30,000 in a month's time, according to the Texas Ethics Commission.
The TEC report shows that Talton received a $5,000 donation from plaintiffs attorney Mark Lanier, founder of the Lanier Law Firm in Houston.
"Personal injury trial lawyers, who primarily bankroll liberal Democrats, are supporting challengers to three highly qualified and proven Supreme Court justices in this year's Republican primary," Richard Trabulsi Jr., a chairman for Texans for Lawsuit Reform PAC, said in a press release.
"Tellingly, all three of the challengers are, so far, almost entirely funded by one personal injury trial lawyer, Mark Lanier, and members of his law firm. Plaintiff trial lawyers are making an unprecedented attempt to regain the control of the Supreme Court that they enjoyed in the 1970s and 1980s, when Texas was known as 'the lawsuit capital of the world.'"
According to the TEC and TLR press release, Talton reported that 100 percent of his funding came from the Lanier law firm.
Appellate Justice Sharon McCally, who is running against Justice Phil Johnson, also reported that 100 percent of her funding is from the Lanier law firm.
Finally, Joe Pool, who is challenging Justice Jeff Brown, reported that 96 percent of his funding is from the Lanier law firm, states the TLR press release.
A call to the Mark Lanier Law Firm requesting an interview was not returned.
In a statewide attorney survey published in Texas Monthly magazine, Lanier earned selection to the "Texas Super Lawyers" list in 2003 through 2012. The same publication also named him as its 2005 "Impact Player of the Year." In 2010, Texas Lawyer named Lanier as one of the Top 25 Attorneys of the Past Quarter Century, according to the firm's website.
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