SE Texas Record

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Sons of district judges seek to succeed fathers, receive financial backing from JC trial lawyers

By David Yates | Aug 11, 2016

BEAUMONT – Funded by some of the most influential trial lawyers in Southeast Texas, the progeny of one current and one former district judge will seek to follow in the footsteps of their fathers this election cycle.

First up, Baylor Wortham, the son of former 58th District Court Judge Bob Wortham, who left the bench to become Jefferson County’s current district attorney.

Baylor Wortham, a Democrat, is challenged by Republican Dana Timaeus in the race for the 136th District Court.

The court’s current judge, Judge Milton Shuffield, announced his plans to retire last September.

From Jan. 1 to June 30, Baylor Wortham, who started his law career in 2006 as an assistant DA, raised nearly $71,000, spent almost $65,000 and had approximately $32,600 cash on hand at the end of the reporting period, campaign finance reports show.

Timaeus, on the other hand, collected a total of $16,310 in that six-month time frame, with a good chunk of his support coming from medical and business professionals, retirees and educators.

Campaign finance records show the plaintiff’s bar is backing Baylor Wortham, especially attorneys for the Beaumont-based law firms Provost Umphrey and Reaud Morgan & Quinn.

On April 12 the Provost Umphrey Law Firm, which specializes in asbestos litigation, donated $2,500 to his campaign.

PU attorneys Ed and Joe Fisher each contributed $2,500 on April 12, while Matthew Matheny gave $500 on March 4.

PU attorney D’Juana Parks donated $2,500 on April 12. James Payne, a PU partner, gave $1,000 on June 14.

Bryan Blevins, a managing partner at PU and former president of the Texas Trial Lawyers Association, donated $450 on June 14.

Attorneys for Reaud Morgan & Quinn, another firm known for representing clients in asbestos suits, also gave heavily to Baylor Wortham, including one of its managing partners, Glen Morgan, who donated $2,500 on Feb. 26.

The firm also made its own donation of $2,500 on Feb. 26.

RMQ attorneys Curtis Leister, Adam Nichols, Sheigh Rhodes and Mark Frasher donated a total of $6,000 on Feb. 10.

John Werner gave $2,500 on Jan. 20, campaign finance records show.

Other donations of note to Baylor Wortham include a well-known Beaumont plaintiff’s attorney, Clay Dugas, who donated $2,500 on April 12.

Unions also showed their support.

The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 450, OPEATE Fund, donated $2,5000 on Feb. 15 and the Pipefitters Local Union No. 211, COPE Fund, gave $500 on Feb. 19.

The Mehaffy Weber Law Firm, which currently represents numerous corporate defendants, contributed $2,500 on Feb. 9.

In the race for the 60th District Court, Justin Sanderson, a Democrat, is running uncontested and will replace his father, Gary Sanderson, who is retiring.

From January to June 30, Sanderson raised more than $33,000, spent a little over $7,100 and has a surplus of $103,566.53 in his war chest, according to campaign finance reports.

Sanderson, who runs his own law firm, received numerous donations of $2,500 from several high-profile attorneys and law firms, including several from people associated with the Houston-based Arnold & Itkin.

In all, firm founders Kurt Arnold and Jason Itkin, plus their spouses, donated a total of $10,000 to Justin Sanderson on Feb. 8.

Over the years, the Record has reported on litigation handled by Arnold & Itkin that ended up in the 60th District Court.

Clay Dugas and Jane Leger of the Dugas Law Firm gave a total of $5,000.

Mehaffy Weber also chipped in $2,500.

Other donations of $2,500 include Heard Robins Cloud LLP, Clark Love & Hutson and Ryan Schaper, a Beaumont attorney.

Back to Baylor Wortham, the attorney also received numerous other donations from prominent individuals and PACs, including:

- Asst. DA Gary Reaves $500;

- Regina Rogers $2,500;

- Attorney Ryan Schaper $2,500;

- Attorney M.C. Carrington, Mehaffy Weber, $250;

- Hadley Cohen, Tiger Industrial, $500;

- Proctor Doak III $500;

- Andrew Gertz, Gertz Law Firm, $250;

- Carl Griffith Jr., Griffith Mosley Johnson & Associates, $2,500;

- Attorney Willard Hall $500;

- Douglas Harrington, Emcor Industrial Services, $500;

- Attorney John Morgan $500;

- Law Office of Jason L. Cansler $1,000;

- Attorney Dewayne Layfield $1,000;

- Professor Andrew Morriss, Texas A&M Law School, $250

- Orbetuck PAC $1,500

- Pat Parsons Sr., Community Bank of Texas, $1,000;

- Randall Reese, Sabine Neches Navigation District, $500;

- Attorney Scot Sheldon, Moore Landry, $200;

- Snider Law Firm $500;

- The Byrd Law Firm $500;

- Brandi Umphrey $500;

- Dr. Bill Varner, Greater Houston Anesthesiology, $2,500; and

- Frank Zummo, Zummo Meat, $500.

Campaign finance reports were due July 15.

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Organizations in this Story

Community Bank of Texas Community Bank of Texas The Byrd Law Firm

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