Texas SC Justice Guzman faces primary challenge

Chris Rizo Feb. 23, 2010, 1:29am

Eva Guzman (R)

Rose Vela (R)

AUSTIN, Texas (Legal Newsline)-Eva Guzman, seated on the Texas Supreme Court since last month, faces a challenger in the March 2 Republican primary.

Tapped by Gov. Rick Perry to fill the vacancy left by Scott Brister, who joined a private law firm last year, Guzman faces Appeals Court Judge Rose Vela in the GOP primary.

The two jurists are vying for Place 9 on the state's highest court. The winner of the Republican primary will face Democrat Blake Bailey and Libertarian Jack Armstrong in the November general election.

Guzman, 49, is the first Latina to serve on the Texas Supreme Court. She was previously on the Texas 14th Court of Appeals in Houston. Perry appointed Guzman to the appeals court post in 2001. She won election in 2002 and 2004.

"I have done more than talk about conservative values and an adherence to the rule of law," Guzman says on her campaign Web site. "I have demonstrated through my work as a judge on the trial court, the court of appeals and now as a Justice on the Supreme Court of Texas, a conservative judicial philosophy that is guided by a firm belief that a judge's role is not to legislate from the bench but to interpret the law as written."

Meanwhile, Vela, 45, was the first Republican elected to the 13th Court of Appeals in Corpus Christi. She won the seat in 2006, with about 58 percent of the vote. When she was elected to the148th District Court as a Democrat, but ran as a Republican for the appeals court.

"All across this state, Texans understand the importance of electing Supreme Court justices with integrity who will uphold the law and provide equal justice for all our citizens," Vela said in a statement announcing her candidacy. "My promise to them is that I will be that justice."

Guzman leads in the fundraising race, campaign reports indicate. She had collected $401,450 as of Jan. 21. Vela, who had sought appointment to Brister's seat, raised $31,305 as of the same date.

Texas Supreme Court justices are elected to staggered six-year terms. Associate justices earn $150,000 annually. The chief justice is paid $152,500.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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