Judges in Houston’s Harris County were shocked a day after voters gave nearly every incumbent seeking re-election their walking papers, reports the Houston Chronicle. The judiciary has been kept stable by an understanding that experienced judges weren’t challenged, but that unspoken agreement was tossed out this year. Seven of the eight incumbent criminal district judges on the ballot were ousted.
Four of the seven who lost didn’t show up for work yesterday. Four of the criminal court losers took special training to preside over the county’s drug courts, a program to divert drug offenders to treatment. Other judges will have to take the training if the program is to continue. The new judges, some with little criminal law experience, will have to contend with huge dockets. Incoming judge Randy Roll expects the new criminal judges to “shake it up a little bit.” On the criminal side, one-third of the 22 judges will be new.