Our View: 'Little Miss Sunscreen' deserves a permanent vacation

By The SE Texas Record | Dec 9, 2013

There’s good news and bad news. First, the good news.

The good news is, Galveston County 212th District Court Judge Susan Criss is resigning from the judgeship she’s held since 1999. [Cue the Hallelujah Chorus.] 

Yes, “Little Miss Sunscreen” is doffing the ample robe she wore and vacating the bench chair she warmed for 14 years, and we can’t say we’re sad to see her go.

Judge Susie is one of those public servants who fancies herself a public master, someone who can’t be bothered to provide an accounting of her actions to us common folk. How she comes to her decisions and what the particulars are of any given settlement are none of our business, or so she thinks.

We nicknamed Judge Susie “Little Miss Sunscreen” three years ago, in 2010, after she issued a restraining order to hide the details of a $189 million settlement of Ike-related claims with the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA).

Our suspicions were aroused and we speculated that the details must be juicy.

We don’t like being condescended to by public servants any more than the next taxpaying citizen. The details of a public servant’s decision regarding a settlement with a quasi-public agency should be a matter of public knowledge.

The best cure for Judge Susie’s sunshine phobia, we argued, was lots of sunshine.

The Texas attorney general’s office agreed, affirming its 2009 determination that TWIA is a governmental body subject to the Public Information Act.

When finally released, the relevant documents showed that the average payout for plaintiffs was $54,000, the average payout for plaintiffs attorneys, $700,000.

No wonder Judge Susie was afraid of getting sunburned!

The good news, like we said, is that “Little Miss Sunscreen” is retiring from the bench.

The bad news is, she’s running for the state legislature, trying to secure a seat in the House as a representative from District 23.

Let’s hope the voters in District 23 say no to an arrogant, secretive House candidate who doesn’t have much regard for those who pay her salary.

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