Candidate believes Texas SC too favorable to corporate defendants

David Yates Aug. 5, 2008, 8:37am

Sam Houston, Democratic candidate for the Place 7 seat on the Texas Supreme Court, met with supporters in Beaumont on July 31.

Campaigning on a platform that the current court is too favorable to corporate defendants, the Democratic nominee for justice of the Texas Supreme Court Place 7 stumped in Beaumont Thursday, July 31.

Plaintiffs' attorney Sam Houston was greeted by many of Beaumont's trial lawyers at a gathering at the downtown Beaumont Club.

Houston said he believes the current state Supreme Court creates too many legal loopholes favoring large corporate and insurance company defendants – loopholes that often leave physically and financially injured individuals with no legal recourse.

"Everyone in this room is concerned with the Supreme Court's (civil stance)," Houston told The Record. "The Supreme Court has to change … this is the year of the Democrats."

According to Houston's campaign materials, the court's decisions during the 2004-2005 term showed the court overturned pro-plaintiff verdicts in 18 cases on a "no evidence" basis – meaning that in those cases the court determined that the jury's opinion of the evidence was without basis.

"These kinds of decisions undermine the jury system, which is the very heart of our system of justice," he said. "The court must be thoughtful and deliberate, not politically-oriented. A jury finding ought to be sacrosanct. Our Supreme Court should overturn jury verdicts only when dictated by the law and the evidence."

The current court also takes too long to reach a decision, Houston said.

"The current Supreme Court doesn't work hard," Houston said. "They are behind in their cases."

The backlog of up to two years to issue a decision is inexcusable and undermines the court, he said.

Houston also said he takes issue with the court's use of anonymous, or per curiam, opinions.

"While per curiam opinions serve a necessary purpose in our judicial system, they should never be used to shield the Court from criticism on controversial issues before it," he states. "The court must operate openly and be accountable to its citizens."

In the November general election, Houston will square off against incumbent Republican Justice Dale Wainwright, who was elected to the Supreme Court on Nov. 5, 2002, after serving as presiding judge of the 334th Civil District Court in Harris County.

Houston has been an attorney for more than 20 years and is board certified in Personal Injury Trial Law and Civil Trial Advocacy, according to his biography.

Born and raised in Colorado City in West Texas, Houston graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in Business Administration and immediately began law school at Baylor University in Waco.

Two-and-a-half years later, he began his legal career in litigation at the Houston firm Andrews & Kurth. He left Andrews & Kurth in 1992 to join Cruse, Scott, Henderson, & Allen and was named a partner a year later. He has been with the firm ever since. He has represented both plaintiffs and defendants in a variety of legal cases.

Houston is married to Jantha, also an attorney. They have two children, Donnie and Audrey.

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