Judge Baird Not Seeking Re-Election

Baird is leaving bench next year to return to private practice and spend more time with his family

Judge Charlie Baird in court
Judge Charlie Baird in court (by Photo by Jana Birchum)

Travis Co. Judge Charlie Baird says he will announce today that he will not be seeking re-election next year to the 299th felony District Court where he has served since January 2007.

Baird, a former justice on the state's highest criminal court, the Court of Criminal Appeals, told Newsdesk he will be leaving public office for private practice, which will give him more time to spend with his young family. He's leaving a great job to take on the most important one, being a parent, he said.

Baird was elected to the Travis County bench in November 2006, and in his time on the local bench has developed a reputation for thinking out of the box – and in particular, for looking for alternatives to incarceration whenever and wherever possible. His tenure hasn't been without some controversy – specifically, he's had a dust-up or two with county prosecutors who have complained in the past that he pays more attention to perps than to victims, but many Baird fans – prosecutors and defense attorneys alike – say that is simply not the case: Baird works hard to level the playing field and treat everyone fairly, they told us for a May 2008 profile of the judge. (Also, notably, this year Baird presided over the state's first posthumous exoneration hearing for Timothy Cole who was wrongfully convicted of a rape he did not commit and died in prison before he could clear his name.)

How Baird's announcement will change next year's election remains to be seen: According to candidate filings, Baird was so far unopposed in both the March Democratic primary and the November general election. And with his decision to retire the bench, Karen Sage, an assistant district attorney, announced to her supporters that she would move her bid for the bench from the 147th district court, where she would face Cliff Brown, the city's police monitor, in the Dem primary, to the 299th. Whether Sage will have that race to herself remains to be seen. Indeed, Mindy Montford, who ran last year for D.A., tells us that she is also considering whether to put her name in the race for the 299th seat.

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