Unfit for Service

RECEIVED Mon., Feb. 15, 2016

Dear Editor,
    The Chronicle's endorsement [News, Feb. 12] for the 450th Judicial District is almost a word-for-word reprint of Attorney Urrutia's deceitful door hanger. To paraphrase his defense in a murder trial he played second fiddle (not lead attorney as he would have us believe), "He isn't lying to you. He's just trying to hide the truth."
    Who is Urrutia? The Chronicle makes much of his ethnic identity. More important is his identity as a political insider, the go-along, get-along Establishment Candidate. His top qualification? Making a fortune in public defender work. But he's benefited from a practice deemed unethical by American Bar Association guidelines. With it, judges can funnel cases to go-along, get-along attorneys who provide a lackluster defense. When questioned by the Austin American-Statesman, Urrutia said he's earned all that taxpayer money. "It is easy to say that these attorneys are greedy, that they are making all the money, but that money directly correlates with the hard work that goes into those cases."
    But that "hard work" has apparently become too hard for Urrutia now that reforms and accountability have killed this unethical cash cow. He's decided to move on to greener pastures. Unfortunately, his conduct in the judicial race shows he's unfit for such service.
    Last year, the Supreme Court got tough about fundraising in judicial races. "Judges, charged with exercising strict neutrality and independence, cannot supplicate campaign donors without diminishing public confidence in judicial integrity," Chief Justice Roberts ruled. How has Urrutia responded? His donor list looks like a who's who of those doing business in the 450th lining up to buy influence.
    Chantal Eldridge, Urrutia's opponent, offers a sharp contrast. She's scrupulously avoided these corrosive conflicts of interest in keeping with her personal and professional integrity. Voters seeking an honest, forthright, experienced, and independent judge have a clear choice.
Carl Lindemann
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