Texas Democrats want high-profile blogging judge on highest bench

Legal News Line May 7, 2007, 10:00am

Judge Susan Criss

AUSTIN -- Recent rumors that well-known Galveston Judge Susan Criss could be headed for a state Supreme Court campaign run were on the money. Six days after popular Texas political blogsite BurntOrangeReport first reported that Criss, a long-time Democrat, was being recuited for the top bench, she confirmed she'd been approached by Texas Democrats to run. Criss was contacted last week by state Democratic Party Chairman Boyd Richie about running for one of two Supreme Court seats coming vacant in 2008, she told the Galveston Daily News today. She gave no further response. Criss, a judge of the 212th District Court of Galveston County, first become a judicial celebrity in Texas while presiding over a high-profile murder case several years ago. She gained more fame in 2005 as the judge in a civil lawsuit over the fatal BP refinery explosion at Texas City. She also authors a popular blog called As the Island Floats, where she reflects on aspects of her daily life. She launched the site in January as an off-shoot of her guest-site on the popular liberal-leaning Grits for Breakfast. Richie confirmed he had spoken with Criss and said she would make a strong candidate. "She has a wonderful judicial temperament and has worked very hard while on the state district court bench," he told the Daily News. "She's also been very encouraging to youngsters entering the legal profession, which speaks so well of her principles and character," he added. Criss was first elected to the district bench in 1998 and has since racked up an array of achievements, according to her 2006 campaign website biography. In 2004 Texas Democratic Women voted Criss "Outstanding Woman Officeholder in Texas" and in 2005 she was named by the Fred C. Johnson Foundation as one of its "People Making a Difference." She also won an award in 2005 for co-producing a law-themed video aimed at minority students. Criss's mid-term move to the Supreme Court would strengthen the Democrats' hand there but could weaken them locally, the Daily News notes. Currently, four of Galveston County's six state 212th District Court Judges (including Criss) are Democrats. But Republican Governor Rick Perry would likely rebalance the scales there by a appointing a Republican to that bench to replace Criss. That judge would serve the remainder of Criss' term until 2010.

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