“‘Heart Of My Heart,’ I love that melody!”
That’s the song Jefferson County trial lawyers are singing now. Only it’s Melody with a capital M, as in Melody Chappell, the Democrat nominee to replace retiring 172nd District Court Judge Donald Floyd in next month’s election.
Their first choice was Hobson & Bradley name partner Tina Bradley, who, with their generous backing, amassed more than four times the campaign cash raised by either of her two opponents in the Democrat primary and lost anyway.
Now the movers and shakers are moving their money to Melody in hopes that she can prevent the election of Republican rival Mitch Templeton.
In addition to being a Democrat – a sine qua non for Jeff County trial lawyers, who are predominantly Democrats themselves and accustomed to having friends on the court – Chappell is a self-avowed admirer of Judge Floyd, whom she considers a role model.
“When I first got here, I knew Judge Floyd as a community person,” recalls Chappell. “His demeanor is that of a servant – that’s his legacy.”
Chappell remembers Floyd as a “rational force” and vows to “fight to keep his legacy.”
The Record doesn’t quite view Floyd’s “legacy” in the same light as Chappell.
When jurors concluded in 2008 that DuPont De Nemours was not responsible for the death of a former employee from mesothelioma, plaintiff's attorney Glen Morgan moved for a new trial and Floyd obliged.
The Texas State Supreme Court stepped in and ordered Floyd to explain his decision, starting a legal battle that would consume the better part of a decade.
Morgan’s firm has been one of the biggest donors to Floyd’s campaign throughout the years.
Earning the support of the movers and shakers by promising not to shake things up, Chappell has benefited from a $15,000 campaign donation from attorneys for the Provost Umphrey Law Firm, $15,000 from the Ferguson Law Firm and its attorneys, $5,000 from attorney David Bernsen and his firm, $2,500 each from Jon Burmeister and Tommy Yeates of Moore Landry and Beaumont attorney Michael Ramsey.
The Gilbert Adams Law Office, Lindsay Lindsay & Parsons, and Portner Bond donated $2,500 each. Attorneys for the Port Arthur law firm Weller, Green, Toups & Terrell donated a total of $5,000.
That’s a lot of cash for Chappell.
Jeff County trial lawyers showered Judge Floyd with lots of dough like that for 30 years. If Chappell follows in his footsteps like she promises, there’s gonna be a lot more for a long time. Maybe the voters will see differently.