To protect public confidence in the judiciary, these Dallas judges must pay their debt
We’re trying to imagine what a Dallas County judge might say if a defendant in her court used the defense that he just didn’t know the law, and didn’t know he had to pay fines for breaking it. We expect the judge wouldn’t be impressed.
So Dallas County residents should not be impressed with 13 judges or former judicial candidates who owe money to the state for failing to file timely campaign finance reports. One of them, Theresa Bui Creevy, a former candidate for a civil district court, told our reporter last week that she was unaware of the fines. She owes $10,500.
Another candidate, Marilynn Mayse, owes more than $42,000 for missing finance reports from multiple campaigns. Mayse will be unopposed in the November election so, unless something changes, she’ll take the bench in the fall, overseeing cases involving fines and penalties, while under hefty fines herself. As of last week, 13 Dallas judges or judicial candidates owed similar fines. Not a good look.
Mayse owes more than any judicial candidate in the state, but she isn’t even the worst offender among all campaigners. State Representative Ron Reynolds (D) of Missouri City owes a whopping $65,209, according to the last accounting by the Texas Ethics Commission.
Judges are typically not politicos. When we interview jurists, they want to talk about legal arguments, not polling data. But that doesn’t change the fact that judges are elected, and entering an election carries the responsibility of campaigning properly. Judges, of all people, should know the campaign laws and follow them strictly.
Our system of partisan judicial elections is already fraught. We hear from judges and readers often who are concerned about public trust in the judiciary. That trust has been threatened in recent years by politicization of the bench. News like this doesn’t help.
Every one of the 13 Dallas area figures named in the TEC list should resolve their debts immediately, certainly before they next stand for election.