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Texas Justice and Juries are Not for Sale

HOUSTON, Feb. 28, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The right to a trial before an impartial jury of citizens is the fundamental principle of our judiciary system under the U.S. Constitution. When a jury verdict or the actions of a court raise questions about the law, the state appellate courts provide a forum to consider, interpret and rule on those questions. Tragically, in recent years, Texans have witnessed the denigration of juries and the erosion of the judiciary by the very body entrusted to protect boththe Texas Supreme Court.

During the decade spanning 2000-2010, the members of your Texas Supreme Court found that Texas juriesmade up of every day, hardworking Texans—were wrong an astonishingly 74 percent of the time, overwhelmingly favoring the position of corporate defendants over small businesses, consumers and families. This lopsided practice is further revealed in a recent edition of the Baylor Law Review, in which the author notes: "[O]f the thirty-one major causation opinions the court has issued since [1995], only four decided the causation issue in favor of the plaintiff. The remainder found a way to benefit the defendant, most overturning jury verdicts, and many overturning courts of appeals' decisions that found sufficient evidence of causation."

These facts speak for themselves. Far from impartially administering justice, the Texas Supreme Court has become a reliable ally of those with deep pockets seeking to escape or minimize the consequences of their actions. Such blatant and consistent favoritism not only inflicts a horrible injustice on those plaintiffs with cases before the Court, but it erodes public confidence in our state's judiciary and our Constitution.

It's no secret that powerful and well-heeled corporate defendants and their special interest groups—such as Texans for Lawsuit Reform and The Texas Civil Justice League—have maintained an iron grip on Texas' highest Court. It's hypocritical for groups such as these to argue that they don't want to return to the ways the liberal Texas Supreme Court of the 1980s, yet they now go to those same 1980s lawyers to fund their Texas Supreme Court candidates and fund raisers.

For example, Texans for Lawsuit Reform is now going to the same faction they said poisoned the judiciary for support. Joe Jamail, a famous centerpiece of the "60 Minutes" expose on the Texas Supreme Court has given the maximum allowable political contribution to current Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht and co-hosts fundraisers. There is no denying that the donation of millions of dollars to these organizations' hand-picked candidates has tipped the scales of justice against the people of our great state.

The unexpected emergence of three qualified and experienced challengers in the GOP high court races clearly has rattled those entrenched forces, which have circled the wagons and opened their wallets in hopes of assuring that the three incumbent Texas Supreme Court justice candidates are re-elected and continue to occupy the bench for the next six years. The scare tactics and media blitzes currently being hurled at the public are unprecedented.

But on March 4, Texans voting in the GOP primary can back three new jurists who pledge to restore fairness, integrity and common sense to our courts. I am proud to be a Republican and a trial lawyer devoted to protecting the rights of ordinary citizens—both those who have been wronged or injured, and those who proudly, if sometimes reluctantly, serve on juries every day. I urge my fellow Republicans to send a message to the corporate special interest groups and left-leaning supporters of the status quo in both political parties: no matter how much money they spend, they cannot diminish our conservative values, supersede the judgment of jurors, and certainly should not own the Texas Supreme Court.

Attorney W. Mark Lanier founded The Lanier Law Firm in Houston in 1990, and has earned widespread recognition as one of the top trial lawyers in the United States. His law firm has provided financial support for the opponents of the three incumbent Texas Supreme Court justices seeking reelection this year.

CONTACT: J.D. Cargill, 281-866-6800

SOURCE The Lanier Law Firm

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