Non-attorney questions constitutionality of not being able to run for district attorney

By David Yates | Jan 16, 2018

BEAUMONT – Not being an attorney shouldn’t exclude someone from running for district attorney, according to an appeal made by Michael David Bellow Jr. to the Texas Supreme Court.

Bellow, who was arrested in 2016 for stalking, filed a petition for writ of mandamus with the high court on Jan. 4, court records show.

Bellow told the Record the charges had been dropped.

Last month, Garrett Peel, Republican Party chairman for Jefferson County, declared Bellow ineligible and declined to place his name on the ballot for March primary elections.

Bellow then turned to the courts.

In his petition to the Supreme Court, Bellow also names several individuals as real parties in interest, including current Jefferson County District Attorney Bob Wortham, who challenged his candidacy, and County Clerk Carolyn Guidry.

Bellow believes Wortham, a Democratic candidate, lacks standing to challenge his candidacy in the Republican Primary.

Wortham responded on Jan. 11, stating in his brief that: “Any citizen, especially a candidate, may challenge the qualifications of a candidate.”

Below is arguing that the Texas statutes governing requirements for district attorney are unconstitutional and is requesting the high court to order Peel to put him on the ballot.

“This mandamus also involves a question of the constitutionality of a state election law,” the petition states. “Whether the Criminal District Attorney for Jefferson County is required to be an attorney in order to hold that office, or before running for that office, and whether any such requirements to be eligible to hold the office before running for it are unconstitutional.

“Whether the Texas Government Code 41.001 requiring County and District Attorneys to be a licensed attorney is unconstitutional.”

In his brief, Wortham says it’s in the public’s best interest that a district attorney is required to be a licensed attorney.

In addition to Wortham, Guidry and The Republican Party of Texas have also submitted briefs.

Supreme Court case No. 18-0013

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