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Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 9

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  • George Joseph Altgelt (G)

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    David Newell (R) Appellate attorney

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    William Bryan Strange III (L) Attorney/Project Manager

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Biographical Information

Length of residency in Texas:

Occupation/main source of income:

Education (include all degrees):

Highlights of current civic involvement/accomplishment:

Highlights of past civic involvement/accomplishment:

Previous public offices sought or held:

How much funding have you raised for your campaign?

Who are your top three contributors?

Have you ever been arrested or involved in any criminal proceedings? If so, please explain:

Have you ever been involved in any civil lawsuits or declared personal or professional bankruptcy? If so, please explain:

What is an example of how you led a team or group toward achieving an important goal?

What judge or attorney do you most admire and why?

Why are you running for this office?

Why should voters choose you over your opponent?

As a judge (if applicable), have any complaints been filed against you to with the State Commission on Judicial Conduct? If so, please explain the disposition of those complaints.

As an attorney, have you had any grievances filed against you with the State Bar of Texas? If so, what was the disposition (unfounded, private reprimand, public reprimand, suspension, disbarment)?

What do the many DNA-proven exonerations say about weaknesses in the Texas justice system and how should the court address that?

What changes, if any, would you like to see made to the administration of the death penalty in Texas?

This court has a reputation for being tough on crime, sometimes unreasonably so. Is this reputation deserved?

Describe what you see as the proper temperament for a judge.

For appellate court incumbents (if applicable), what's the average time it takes from the time a case is filed to when it is disposed of in your court?

If you have been a judge in a county or appellate jurisdiction, what was your reversal rate?

Is there a problem with the availability or quality of legal services provided indigent defendants in this state? If so, how would you seek to address it?

Because Texas selects its judges and justices through partisan elections, you chose to run as a Republican, Democrat or member of another political party. What philosophies of that party led you to choose it for this race?

Do you support our system of electing judges in partisan contests? Or would you favor moving to a different system, such as one where judges are appointed and then run later in non-partisan retention elections?

The Supreme Court oath that all lawyers take requires them to say that “we will avoid the appearance of impropriety.” In light of that, how can judges justify accepting campaign contributions from lawyers who have appeared or may appear before them in court?

The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
Address P. O. Box 33
City/Town Richmond, Texas 77406
Age 43
Campaign Phone Number (713) 204-7292
Fax Number 281-261-7345
Email Address david@newellforjudge.com
31 years continuous, 34 years total. My father served in the United States Navy so I was born in the Bethesda Naval Hospital. I moved to Texas as a small child.
Appellate attorney, Harris County District Attorney's Office
B.A. in English with concentration in creative writing, magna cum laude – University of Houston 1993 J.D. - University of Texas School of Law
-Member, Course Planning Committee for State Bar of Texas Advanced Criminal Law Course (2014) -Recipient of Texas District & County Attorneys' Association C. Chris Marshall Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Education of Texas Prosecutors (2013) -Speaker, Court of Criminal Appeals Update, State Bar of Texas Advanced Criminal Law Course (2007-2014) -Speaker, US Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals Update, Texas District & County Attorneys' Association Annual Criminal and Civil Law Update (2013, 2014) -Chair, Editorial Board of The Texas Prosecutor, Texas District & County Attorney's Association bimonthly newsletter (2004-2006, 2012-2014) -Associate Patron, Texas Federation of Republican Women -Associate Member, Spirit of Freedom Republican Women -Associate Member, Texas Tea Party Republican Women -Member, Downtown Houston Pachyderm Club -Member, Southminster Presbyterian Church -Active supporter of East Fort Bend Human Needs Ministry, Literacy Council of Fort Bend County, Star of Hope Mission, Child Advocates of Fort Bend, First Colony LIttle League, Parks Youth Ranch, and Fort Bend Junior Service League
I decided to become a prosecutor after volunteering at the Houston Area Women’s Center answering the Rape Crisis Hotline during college. Since that time, I have been very active in my community through my church and the Exchange Club of Sugar Land, where I served as a Board member. And, as the Child Abuse Awareness Committee Chair for the Exchange Club, I helped coordinate a Healing Field during Child Abuse Prevention Month in 2005. A field of 1,500 American flags were flown to represent the reported cases of child abuse in Fort Bend County. I also repeatedly coordinated the Annual Blue Ribbon School Competition where Fort Bend I.S.D. schools decorated their campuses with blue ribbons and artwork from students to convey messages of hope for an end to child abuse. My wife and I became trained as ChristCare small group leaders (part of the Stephen Ministry program) to help lead intentional small group worship at our church. Along with our two boys, we have also volunteered our time with the Houston Food Bank and Keep Sugar Land Beautiful. I have served as a delegate (Precinct 4065, at-large, and alternate at-large) at the Texas Republican Convention.
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As of the filing of these answers, I have raised a total of $33,710.41 in cash and in kind contributions. My family members and I have contributed $19,007.52 of that amount.
Tom and Linda Newell, my wife and myself through un-reimbursed expenditures and Alan Ratliff.
I have never been arrested. Aside from class C traffic tickets, I have not been personally involved in any criminal proceedings.
No.
As discussed above, I have served on the board for the Sugar Land Exchange Club as well as worked as part of a committee to raise awareness of child abuse in Fort Bend. Additionally, I have twice served on the course committee for the State Bar’s Advanced Criminal Law Course; and I have repeatedly chaired the editorial board for The Texas Prosecutor for the Texas District and County Attorney’s Association. As far as individual leadership, I was a teaching assistant at the University of Texas where I helped teach legal research and writing to new law students. When I saw a need for additional training, I personally set up a lunch-time CLE program within the Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office to help prevent errors during criminal pleas and trials. And, for several years, I taught cadets at the Gus George Law Enforcement Academy in Richmond to help new recruits obtain their police officer certification through TCLEOSE. Finally, I have twice coached my younger son at T-ball, but if you are at all familiar with the rules of this game, you realize that there is no achievable goal, only a journey.
The first attorney who comes to mind is Paul Clement. His oral argument in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius was flawless. The legal issues in the case were complex and nuanced, but he managed to address them in simple, relatable terms with great poise. Having had the opportunity to brief an issue before the United States Supreme Court as well as to assist in the preparation for oral argument, I have seen first-hand just how much pressure is involved in a “typical” case before the high court. Mr. Clement’s case was arguably one of the most significant before the United States Supreme Court in history. As Justice Kennedy observed during the oral argument, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act carried with it the potential to change “the relationship of the Federal Government to the individual in a very fundamental way.” Yet Mr. Clement remained poised, knowledgeable, and articulate in the defining case of his career. As far as a judge I most admire, I would say Oliver Wendell Holmes. While his ability to turn a phrase was certainly one of his most enduring qualities, I have always admired his approach to his cases rather than any particular ruling. One of his most famous quotes is, “The life of the law has not been logic, it has been experience.” This oft-repeated statement revealed a judicial skepticism born from his belief that all judicial decisions are to some degree result-oriented. But the great irony was that Holmes, the father of legal realism, often reached decisions out of fidelity to the law even when the law ran counter to his own deeply held beliefs. To me, that epitomizes what a judge should always strive to do: remain faithful to the law himself because of the great temptation to reach a particular result desired by the judge making the decision.
I am running for this office because there is a need for good, qualified judges on the Court. I have always tried to live my life in service to others through church, community, or professional organizations. My strong writing background on top of my experience in criminal appellate law has trained me to fill the unique role of sitting on an appellate court, where judges must be able to anticipate how their rulings will be interpreted in the future and to communicate those opinions clearly to avoid unintended consequences. I believe my status as a highly sought after lecturer and writer not only on criminal law generally, but also on the Court of Criminal Appeals opinions specifically provides ample proof of this fact. Most importantly, I believe I best represent the future of the Court. Over the last sixteen years, I have seen the Court wrestle not only with the decisions of the previous members of the Court, but also the fallout from egregious errors in prosecution that came from overly permissive rulings. As a criminal appellate attorney, I find myself in the unique position of both defending the criminal justice system and correcting errors when it breaks down. My experience makes me the best person for the job.
I believe that my skill and experience in criminal appellate law makes me the best suited to do the job on the Court of Criminal Appeals. Over my sixteen-year career, I have written numerous appeals on death penalty cases and death penalty writs. I have appeared before the Court of Criminal Appeals on multiple occasions as a litigator and before intermediate courts of appeal in that capacity even more frequently. I have briefed legal issues before the United States Supreme Court, which adopted my reasoning to uphold the decision of the Court of Criminal Appeals. I am Board Certified in both Criminal Law and Criminal Appellate Law. I have written numerous articles in The Texas Prosecutor on the significant decisions by the United States Supreme Court and the Court of Criminal Appeals. I have been presenting the Court of Criminal Appeals Update almost continuously for the State Bar of Texas at their Annual Advanced Criminal Law Course since 2007. Consequently, I am very familiar not only with this Court’s precedent, but the emerging trends in its decisions. And I am well-respected by both sides of the criminal appellate bar. I am not running for the position, I’m running for the job, and I think my background and experience demonstrate that I am the best person to start doing that job on day one.
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I have had one grievance filed against me early in my career that was dismissed as unfounded. I have not had any since.
The numerous DNA-proven exonerations are certainly very serious and understandably shake confidence in the system as a whole. I have been fortunate enough to have met with and talked to Michael Morton about his experiences and the process of rebuilding his life after spending twenty-five years in prison for a crime he did not commit. He is a man of incalculable grace and kindness. I have always approached every appeal as if the defendant is correct and he did not receive a fair trial. When my examination of the record and the law has indicated that a defendant deserved a new trial or an acquittal, I have said so to the court of appeals. Speaking with Michael Morton only further emphasized to me the importance of viewing each appeal from the perspective of a wrongfully convicted person and then reviewing the record on appeal to see if it reveals otherwise.

But I also believe that the many DNA-proven exonerations highlight the legal system’s ability to adapt in response to injustice. When issues have arisen in the criminal justice system, the Texas Legislature has enacted laws to address those issues. Indeed, the proper avenue for correcting the law to address errors in the way the legal system operates is through the legislature.

Nevertheless, the Court of Criminal Appeals has had to step in on occasion where the legislature provided no guidance. If there is an area where the Court might be able to improve, it is through the Court’s unique role as fact-finder in post-conviction writs of habeas corpus. The Court has authored conflicting opinions regarding how much deference should be afforded to a trial court’s recommendations in a writ of habeas corpus. Unfortunately, in some of the bigger cases, the temptation is too great for the Court to simply defer to the lower court’s factual findings rather than insist upon exercising its original factual jurisdiction. Clearing up that conflict in case law could go a long way to allowing the Court to act in a constitutionally permissible way to provide a further check upon wrongful convictions.
As discussed above, many significant changes to the administration of the death penalty have already been enacted by the Texas Legislature. Specifically, the requirement that all evidence possibly containing biological evidence be tested prior to trial on a death penalty case will likely reduce the number of death penalty trials in Texas. And a general right of discovery will cut down on instances and claims of prosecutorial misconduct with regard to evidence either being intentionally withheld or inadvertently remaining undiscovered. Allowing for reciprocal discovery would further the stated goals of ensuring that the innocent are not wrongfully convicted, but that would require legislative action rather than action on the part of the Court of Criminal Appeals.
Whether a reputation is deserved is generally in the eye of the beholder, but I can certainly see how decisions such as Ex parte Criner and Ex parte Richard would foster an “unreasonably pro-prosecution” reputation. As discussed above, I feel that many of the Court’s recent decisions protecting defendant’s rights have gone overlooked. Baldwin v. State and Crain v. State are two examples of cases where the Court found that police had erred by stopping defendants without legal justification. Ex parte Henderson and Ex parte Chabot are cases where the Court has considered new evidence that came to light showing that unknowingly false testimony allowed the jury to reach an inaccurate result. Ex parte Masonheimer and Pena v. State are two examples where the Court upheld claims of prosecutorial misconduct for failure to disclose Brady material even where the prosecutor trying the case appeared unaware that the exculpatory evidence existed. That said, once a person or group has been given a particular reputation, it takes even more effort to correct that impression. I believe my qualifications and background makes me the best candidate to give the Court that type of fresh start.
I believe a judge should be open-minded to different possible arguments in order to avoid the dangers of confirmation bias. Additionally, a judge should aspire to humility so that he never forgets others may have a better answer, and his own ego does not get in the way when he realizes he needs to change his mind. He should be modest enough that he never seeks power, and he should exercise it with great respect when called to do so. He should be determined enough that he can firmly stand by a position he knows to be true even in the face of overwhelming criticism. And he should be compassionate enough to remember that every case number represents people whose lives will be dramatically affected by whatever decision the judge makes.
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The availability or quality of legal services provided to indigent defendants in Texas has been a cause for great concern in the past. However, following the public outcry that resulted from Cockrell v. Burdine (the sleeping lawyer case), there has been a concerted effort to increase the availability and quality of legal services provided to indigent defendants. In Harris County, we have seen a marked increased in the effective representation of the indigent through its Public Defender's Office. For counties that can't afford such an office, devoting a portion of asset forfeiture funds to indigent defense could provide additional revenue. Moving to a voucher system where an indigent defendant can choose his or her own attorney rather than simply appointing an having an attorney appointed from a list might provide better representation by making lawyers compete. Additionally, private organizations such as Fort Bend Lawyers Care, which my wife and I have supported, can also provide assistance to the indigent.
My father, as a graduate of the United States Naval Academy and a veteran of the Vietnam war, instilled in me the importance of personal liberty and the need to protect it. I believe the Republican Party is the true party of individual liberty and personal responsibility. That is why I have volunteered for my local party in Fort Bend County, voted in Republican primaries, campaigned for local Republican candidates and even traveled to the State Convention as a delegate from Senate District 17. Republicans believe that the Constitution was drafted to enshrine the rights given to us by God, not to create new rights through judicial activism. I share that Republican philosophy and the belief that judges should not legislate from the bench. Instead, they should act as a necessary check upon potential legislative or executive overreach.
I support electing judges in partisan contests. The goal of having judges remain truly independent of the electoral process is certainly laudable, but in practice this goal is impossible to achieve. My experience having to analyze the many fractured opinions in a particular case before the United States Supreme Court has emphasized to me that pure appointment of judges actually leads to more fractured and ideological opinions that are quickly undermined and overturned. Ultimately, these types of fractured opinions provide less guidance for parties, practitioners, and judges. Moreover, we essentially have a retention election in practice due to the nature of political appointments. Many qualified candidates choose to seek a judicial appointment rather than enter a political contest for an open seat with the knowledge that an incumbent has an advantage in any primary or general election. But partisan elections simply provide more transparency to the process and require at least some method by which voters can make a reasonable decision regarding a judge’s philosophy based upon party affiliation. It is not a perfect system, but is the best available option.
My experience writing and teaching about the Court has taught me that adherence to the rule of law fosters and projects impartiality. Given that lawyers are generally the most knowledgeable about candidates for judicial races, it is unrealistic to think that lawyers will not appear to exert some influence upon the electoral process through their donations or endorsements. But any lawyer who has supported me knows that I will make my decisions according to the law regardless of any donations I might or might not receive. While I have held two fundraisers targeting friends, family, and community contacts, I have not actively sought financial contributions from prosecutors or defense attorneys across the state. In light of this, the number of donors that might later appear before me and the amounts given are so low that recusal would not impact the Court in those exceptional circumstances where it may be necessary.
City/Town Dallas, TX. 75222-7136
Age 66
Campaign Phone Number (214) 468-4762
Fax Number N/A
Email Address wbstrangeiii@gmail.com
With the exception of military service and graduate school education, I am a life long resident of Texas.
Semi-retired attorney and project manager.
BA 1971 from Southern Methodist University. (Political Science) JD 1979 George Washington University MS 2000 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Real Estate Development)
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
Adult leader for Boy Scouts of America

Member of the Libertarian Party State Executive Committee

I have run for Court of Criminal Appeals twice and for the Texas Supreme Court once
None. I am opposed to the concept of solicitation of campaign contributions for judicial office.
None.
No.
No.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
I greatly admire Judge Richard P. Matsch; Judge Matsch is a Senior Judge of the U. S. District Court of Colorado and presided over the trial of Timothy McVeigh for the bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building. Judge Matsch has the total respect of the bar for his fairness, intelligence, and detachment from politics.
I am running for office in order to protect the rights of the individual as opposed to the idea of increasing power of the state. I intend to stand on principal even if it may not be convenient or popular.
I decline the invitation to compare myself to my opponent.
No.
No.
Justice in not perfect. Advances in science will always present challenges to accepted procedures. The Court of Criminal Appeals should always be sensitive to the inherent uncertainty of the criminal justice system and demand the highest standard of proof of guilt.
Death penalties administration should be swift, with due consideration of all legal protections for an accused. Challenges to the death penalty under the United States Constitution and the Constitution and statutes of Texas must receive prompt resolution and be free from outside influences.

Since death penalty cases may be matters for my decision if elected, further comment would not be appropriate.
The Court’s reputation is deserved. However, it is unfortunate that the Court’s actions are often reduced to simple statements like “tough” or “weak”. Criminal cases present many subtle complexities of federal and state law over which reasonable citizens, attorneys and judges can differ. I hope the Court’s reputation can become one of being “tough” in resisting outside influences and applying the law without regard to popular political winds.
A Judge should be detached and impartial at all times. Within that detachment, a Judge should be slow to anger, while leaving no doubt as to the authority of the Court.
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Texas must assure legal services are provided to the indigent accused. This is best done by proper funding from the State and County budgets. The State Bar of Texas, in collaboration with the judiciary, should guide the application of that funding into various means for the delivery of legal services. This system should utilize both public defenders and private practice attorneys. Care must be taken to eliminate favoritism or politics from the process.
I am running as a Libertarian because the Libertarian Party stands for the rights of the individual as opposed to the idea of increasing power of the state. Libertarians are resolved to stand on principal even if it may not be convenient or popular.
I support the so called "Missouri system" where judges are appointed. I believe there should be in initial term of 8 years with the possibility of being reappointed.
In my opinion they cannot. For that reason I do not accept contributions from anyone.