County Court-at-Law appointments: Ghost of John Longoria past

Update at 6:20pm:

The Commissioners named Michael LaHood to County Court-at-Law #15; Monica Gonzalez to #13, the County's second family-violence court; Ernest Acevedo Jr. to #14; and JP Linda Penn to court #5. Longoria didn't make the final cut; he was reportedly nominated to #14 by Commissioner Chico Rodriguez, and Commissioner Tommy Adkisson seconded, but Adkisson ultimately voted for Acevedo.

Bexar County Commissioners are wrapping up the second day of interviews for four County Court-at-Law benches today, and opponents and supporters were expected to show up this morning for former state legislator, County Judge, and commissioner John Longoria's 9 a.m. interview slot. Speculators have been predicting for going on a month now that the fix is in for Longoria, Mike LaHood (whose son, Nico, is running against District Attorney Susan Reed in 2010), Pamela Gabriel Craig, and Monica Gonzalez. If the Commissioners stick to their published agenda, they'll get it all sorted out by close of business this evening. Twenty-three finalists made it to the interview cut, including late addition Kristina Ann Escalona. You can read their applications here.

Our favorite (not to say only) daily reported today that Longoria's candidacy has been all but derailed by opposition from pro-choice forces, who remember his days in the Pink Dome not-so-fondly. Longoria was Frank Corte before Corte (co-author of this session's controversial abortion-ultrasound bill, e.g.), authoring provisions to grant fetuses personhood and criminalize teen sex, according to the Texas chapter of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League. Alerted by a San Antonio member, TARAL encouraged its Bexar County members to phone and write the commissioners, opposing his appointment.

But Longoria's local critics might prefer to be billed more broadly as women's rights advocates, because they also remember Longoria as the man who derailed the career of County Court-at-Law Judge Bonnie Reed, who spearheaded reform of the County's domestic-violence system. (TARAL is not publicly commenting on this issue, but Executive Director Sara Cleveland notes that many of their members also belong to the National Organization of Women, and this is very much on their radar.) While Reed was on the bench and Longoria was in Austin, Reed refused to reschedule a domestic-violence case in which Longoria represented the defendant, although state law indicates legislator attorneys are entitled to continuances. Citing immediate danger to the victim, Reed instead scheduled arguments for a day the legislature wasn't in session; Longoria dug in his heels, and his client was convicted. Reed was subsequently found in contempt of court and spent 13 days in jail. Not content, Longoria filed a complaint with the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct, and that stress and a simultaneous probe by the District Attorney prompted Reed to resign, after which the TCJC dropped its investigation. The National Organization of Women, which protested Reed's conviction and jailing reported at the time that Longoria had long been at odds with Reed over abortion rights, and often represented Operation Rescue protesters accused of trespassing.

Longoria told the E-N this week that thanks to the efforts of the pro-choice activists, who've called and emailed the commissioners, his chance at the seat has virtually evaporated, but as of last Friday, Bexar County Democratic Chair Carla Vela remained staunch in her support for Longoria, characterizing his critics as “a group of women who really shouldn't be involved,” and who could jeopardize their organizations' non-profit status by lobbying against a candidate for public office. She didn't name names.

“The problem they have with Longoria is that he's pro-life,” said Vela, but “I think he's an excellent choice.”

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