Dedra Davis, a district-court judge that Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis backed for election in 2018, has been chosen to hear a constitutional challenge to Harris County’s redistricting plan developed by – you guessed it – Rodney Ellis. The plan will likely give Democrats a supermajority in Commissioners Court and allow them to dictate everything from tax increases to the future of flood mitigation in Harris County.
1.1 Million Will Lose Right to Vote for Commissioners Next Year
The suit alleges that the Ellis-3 plan, by switching precinct boundaries and numerical designations – will deprive 1.1 million people of their right to vote for commissioner in the next county election. Further, the suit alleges that precinct lines could have been redrawn without depriving anyone of their right to vote.
Ellis switched numbers of Precincts 3 and 4 and moved a large part of P2 into P3. Because only even-numbered precincts will vote next year, voters in the new P3 – which includes virtually the entire Lake Houston Area – will not be able to vote for commissioners as they normally would have.
Ellis-Backed Judge Draws Ellis Case
The Honorable Judge Dedra Davis of the Texas 270th Judicial Court is a Democrat. She first ran for public office in 2018, but managed to beat Republican Judge Brent Gamble, a 20-year incumbent by 10 points – even though members of the Houston Bar Association preferred Gamble almost 3-to-1. And the Houston Chronicle strongly endorsed Gamble over Davis.
Some might call Davis’ 10-point win over a highly respected incumbent a stunning upset. But Ellis swings a lot of weight in Harris County.
One Harris County insider who spoke on condition of anonymity said, “She is one of the judges Ellis got elected. There are several of them.” A second person sent me the photo above that shows Davis campaigning with Ellis.
Can Davis Be Impartial?
Judges don’t get to chose their cases. And this case has barely begun. The lawsuit was filed just two days ago. No rulings have yet been made according to Harris County District Clerk records. So I’m not alleging any impropriety.
Davis just had the bad luck to draw a case involving one of her biggest supporters – someone whose support likely swung her election.
According to the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 18b, Judge Davis has a perfect out if she wants it. Rule 18b, Paragraph B states, “Grounds for Recusal. A judge must recuse in a proceeding in which:
(1) the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned;
(2) the judge has a personal bias or prejudice concerning the subject matter or a party.”
Only the Honorable Judge Davis can know what’s inside her heart, but a million disenfranchised voters will be looking over her shoulder on this case and wondering whether her association with Commissioner Ellis will color her judgement.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 11/18/21
1542 Days after Hurricane Harvey
The thoughts expressed in this post represent opinions on matters of public concern and safety. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.