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Judge Lee Gabriel selected as court of appeals nominee

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Judge Lee Gabriel, presiding judge of Denton county’s 367th District Court, has been selected to fill the ballot position for the 2nd Court Appeals, Place 7 on the November 2, 2010 ballot.

If elected, she will be the first judge from Denton County to sit on this court in recent history, as it historically is comprised of Tarrant county jurists.

Her selection came about due to a cascading series of changes on the 2nd Court of Appeals, which sits in Ft. Worth and includes a dozen north Texas counties: Archer, Clay, Cooke, Denton, Hood, Jack, Montague, Parker, Tarrant, Wichita, Wise and Young.
 
Due to the timing of the  resignation of Chief Justice Robert Cayce (R) earlier this year, state law requires that a committee comprised of  the county chairs in each of these affected counties meet to select a replacement candidate to go on the ballot in November.

The twelve Republican chairs selected Judge Terrie Livingston, who has been acting Chief Justice for several months, for that position and she has been appointed by Gov. Rick Perry to serve as Chief Justice in the interim. Prior to becoming Chief Justice, Judge Livingstone served as a Justice in Place Seven on the Court.

Livingston’s appointment left her Place Seven on the Court vacant, and under state law, the same procedure is followed to fill that ballot position. Republican Party of Texas Chairman Cathie Adams called the meeting of the GOP county chairs (known as the District Executive Committee) for the purpose of making the ballot selections for Saturday, May 20 at the Wise County Courthouse.

Several candidates seeking the Committee’s selection were on hand to address the Committee, all but two from Tarrant County. The Committee’s choices were relayed to the Governor’s office on Monday by Chairman Adams.

“Judge Gabriel brings a range of experience which is both wide and deep,” explains Denton County Chairman Dianne Edmondson, speaking to the Committee’s selection. “She has more than 20 years judicial experience in a court which hears all types of cases: criminal, civil and family.” That broad experience was important to the Committee, Edmondson feels, because the 2nd Court of Appeals hears cases in all those areas. “Judge Gabriel’s criminal background was particularly impressive,” she said, “because more than half the cases which go to the Ft. Worth court are criminal appeals and only one of the sitting justices has any criminal law background.”

Judge Gabriel teaches and is board certified in criminal law, and served for seven years in the Criminal District Attorney’s office as a prosecutor in Denton County.

Judge Gabriel is running unopposed as the Republican nominee for the 367th District Court and will be withdrawing from the ballot for that position sometime soon, according to Edmondson. Once that has happened, Edmondson says she will call a special meeting of the Denton County Republican Party’s precinct chairs (known as the GOP Executive Committee) and they will select a replacement nominee for that position on the November 2, 2010 ballot.

It is expected that Governor Rick Perry will appoint Judge Gabriel to be the interim Justice for Place Seven at a date yet to be determined, but probably within the next two months.

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