Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Chief Justice Eyes Role in ADR after Stepping Down from the Bench

Linda B. Thomas, Chief Justice of the Dallas Court of Appeals, whose resignation from that post was announced yesterday, will continue teaching law at Southern Methodist University and plans to be involved in arbitration and mediation, according to the news advisory posted on the Fifth Court of Appeals' website. "I plan to offer my assistance to help people move toward resolution in a way that allows them to control their own destinies," Justice Thomas is quoted as saying upon announcing her forthcoming retirement, which will be effective Oct. 31, 2009. "I particularly want to help families with children so that they can avoid the litigation process." See copy of press release on Chief Justice Thomas' retirement. It is not uncommon for judges in Texas to become arbitrators and mediators after retirement from the bench or defeat in election, which is a partisan affair in Texas. Some continue to serve as visiting judges in trial courts. Former appellate justices also serve on appellate panels by assignment and write opinions. Vacancies on district and appellate courts are filled by gubernatorial appointment until a replacement can be chosen through the electoral process. Justice Thomas' retirement thus creates another opportunity for Governor Rick Perry to pick a Republican successor, following Justice Brister's recent resignation from the Texas Supreme Court. Appointees usually benefit from incumbency status when they embark upon the campaign trail and prepare to face the voters in primary and general elections.

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