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Texas Chief Justice, 4th Court of Appeals

6-year term. Must be age 35-74 years, a U.S. Citizen, a Texas resident, licensed to practice law in Texas, a registered voter, and have at least 10 years experience as a lawyer or judge. Hears appeals on civil and criminal cases from lower courts in its district.

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    Renée Yanta

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    Rebeca Martinez

Biographical Information

Qualifications: What training, experience, and background qualify you for this position?

Judicial Selection: Texas is one of the few states that elect judges in partisan elections. What changes in the judicial selection process would you recommend, if any?

Standards: What changes, if any, do you think are necessary to improve public confidence in the legal profession?

Biases: What training and practices do you recommend for trial judges to guard against implicit biases?

Other Issues: What other issues do you believe will be the most pressing for the Texas Supreme Court?

District Judge 7 yrs; Board Certified (Appeals) 17 yrs; Mediator; Adjunct law professor; Legal author; Created/presided over PEARLS Court, therapeutic court for Foster Care teen girls; Led business organizations, law firms & nonprofits; Super Lawyer
I suggest the following: (1) Modify the selection process to require judicial candidates have at least 10 years of litigation experience and be board certified. (2) Judicial candidates run without political affiliations and during an apolitical election cycle.
I suggest the following: (1) Change the judicial selection process so candidates must have deeper experience and run without party affiliation. (2) Develop required mentorship programs for new attorneys with experienced attorneys. (3) Incentivize more attorneys to represent those who cannot afford legal representation.
DEI training is imperative for all trial and appellate judges, enabling judges to recognize implicit bias and modify their courtroom procedures. As Chief Justice, I am committed to expanding DEI initiatives at the court of appeals and will launch by February 2021 a "listening tour" to obtain feedback from all participants in the appellate process.
Access to justice is crucial, especially for families and children in the child protection system. Foster Care continues to experience significant challenges, especially for teens in Care. Moreover, human trafficking remains at crisis levels. As Chief Justice, I will continue to work with the Texas Supreme Court on each of these issues.
Texans deserve an experienced appellate jurist. Since 2013, I've served with 2 chiefs, 9 justices, through 4 legislative sessions, 5 fiscal budgets, a pandemic and ransomware attack. I'm immediately prepared to navigate the court into the next decade
Since the Republic in 1836, Texans have grappled with this issue and, after thoughtful debate, have fought to guarantee fair and equal access to the courts. Twice, by constitutional amendment, we have returned our system from an appointed to an elected selection process, and I believe Texans should remain trusted to select and remove their judges. Thank you for your trust.
Indeed, both bench and bar must reaffirm its commitment to the fair administration of justice; to keeping justice transparent, equitable and accountable; to be of service to those in need; to remove conscience and unconscious bias from the justice system; to acknowledge that institutional racism exists and, per our Oath & Code, commit to policies that actually combat it.
Mandatory judicial education is essential. Every judge struggles against admitting to bias, and we are often unwilling to explore and identify our own prejudices from our own life experience. As an institution and individually, we must install strategies to address unconscious biases, provide formal education, promote regular discussions with others and practical training.
The Texas Supreme Court often decides controversy-raising issues. In these unprecedented times, the Court has addressed issues affecting tenants, business owners, voters, debtors, inmates, etc. SCOTX will make decisions relating to access to justice, determine court procedures, the return of jury trials, digital civil process and notice, and issues affecting due process.