HOUSTON (Legal Newsline) - Tony Buzbee, a Houston trial lawyer who raked millions in attorneys fees from cases litigated in the 212th District Court, is now funding a former employee seeking election to the court.

Last Monday, Gov. Rick Perry appointed Friendswood attorney Bret Griffin, a former Buzbee Law Firm employee, as the next judge of the 212th District Court in Galveston County.

The term is set to expire after this year's election. Griffin will face competition in the coming Republican March primary from Patricia Grady.

A Texas Ethics Commission report shows Buzbee and his firm donated $5,000 to Griffin on Jan. 6.

The report further shows Griffin received donations from several more individuals with connections to the Buzbee Law Firm.

According to a Feb. 4 press release, Texans for Lawsuit Reform PAC believes Buzbee is attempting to distance himself from his former employee turned judge.

In a recent interview with Texas Lawyer, Buzbee said Griffin "doesn't work for me" and denied there were business relationships between his family and Griffin's family.

"Buzbee is an opportunistic trial lawyer who made national news when he bragged that he could win lawsuits in South Texas because of his influence over local judges there," the TLRPAC press release states.

"Now Buzbee is apparently trying to increase his influence on courts closer to home by backing a former employee of his firm, whose wife is also a Buzbee business partner, for a district court judgeship in Galveston County."

Following Hurricane Ike, the 212th District Court handled hundreds of lawsuits filed by Buzbee against the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association, netting him and his firm millions of dollars in attorneys fees.

The Buzbee Law Firm employed Griffin in 2007 and, until recently, Griffin continued to file many lawsuits with Buzbee, the press release states.

"Buzbee is a truth-challenged, opportunistic personal injury trial lawyer who is trying to mislead the voters of Galveston County," the press release states.

"Voters who want a fair and impartial judge on the Galveston trial court should ask why Tony Buzbee is going to such lengths to deceive voters about his close personal and financial relationships with Bret Griffin."

TLRPAC is the political arm of Texans for Lawsuit Reform, the state's largest civil justice reform organization.

From Legal Newsline: Reach David Yates at elections@legalnewsline.com.

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