By: Glenn Evans
Longview News Journal, February 17, 2016
Justice Paul Green points out the Texas Supreme Court disposed of every case on its to-do list during its most recent session.
He hopes that and other conservative qualities convince Republicans to nominate him for a third term on the state’s highest civil court — him, not a former lawmaker with the same last name who’s running against him for the Place 5 seat on the court.
“It’s created a lot of confusion out there — there are two Greens,” he said. “There’s a good Green and a bad Green.”
Rick Green, the former lawmaker, provided a perfect way to tell the difference in his opening volley of the race, the judge said. The former lawmaker and Dripping Springs attorney criticized Justice Green for the court’s decision to dismiss the state’s intervention in a same-sex divorce case.
“It’s an intervention case,” the justice said, explaining such decisions hinge on jurisdiction and standing, not the merits of the arguments, regardless of the topic.
The Supreme Court’s role is to inspect the lower trial court record to see if something occurred in error. That trial court level is the jurisdiction where parties may intervene and have standing as the case moves up the judicial ladder.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton didn’t intervene at the trial court level.
“When the case is over with (in the trial court), no one has standing to intervene,” Green said. “So, the attorney general was asking us to create a law.”
Had the high court gone along with Paxton, Green said it would have become the two-word phrase every judicial conservative abhors.
“Yes, exactly — by creating a new rule, we would be judicial activists,” he said. “I feel like my opponent’s just not qualified for the job. And trying to get that out, and because of the name confusion, it’s just insane.”
Former lawmaker Green said both candidates possess “the necessary legal experience” for the robes.
“I’m the only one with the legislative, business and constitutional experience,” Rick Green wrote in an email response to questions about his legal qualifications. “And we need to once again have that variety of experience represented on the court. … It’s actually a good thing to not have justices who all took the exact same litigator path.”
The winner who emerges from the March 1 Republican primary will face Democrat Dori Contreras Garza in November.
Paul Green, who was appointed to the high court by Gov. Rick Perry in 2005, said the nine-judge court combs through 1,000 to 1,100 case files annually.
“We finished our docket last time for the first time in the history of the court,” he said. “And we want to continue to do that. … We work very hard to see what the Legislature intended, by the way they wrote the statutes. … That’s the prerogative of the Legislature, to set that policy. You can’t reach a preconceived result. You follow the statute.”
His opponent just doesn’t get that, he said.
“He’s never tried a case,” Paul Green said. “Yet, he wants to go on the highest civil court in this state — an example is coming out of high school and wanting to become a brain surgeon. I think the people in the state deserve better than that.”