Clockwise from back left, Justices Johnson, Medina, Wainwright, Brister, Green, Willett, O'Neill, Chief Justice Jefferson, and Justice Hecht.

Last month, the Houston Bar Association sent Blawgletter a copy of its 2009 Judicial Evaluation Results.1  How did the 1,003 HBA members who responded rate the nine justices of the Texas Supreme Court?

Three of Their Honors did well.  They got "outstanding" as their frequentest mark in the "overall" slot:

  • 52.5 percent for Justice Harriet O'Neill.
  • 51.5 percent for Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson.
  • 40.3 percent for Justice Dale Wainwright.

The other six earned fewer "outstanding" votes than "poor" or "acceptable" ones.  In fact, each of them received a plurality — and in one case a majority — of "poor" ratings.  Thus:

  • 36.2 for Justice Phil Johnson.
  • 43 percent for Justice Scott A. Brister.
  • 43.7 percent for Justice Paul W. Green and Justice Don R. Willett.
  • 47.6 percent for Justice Nathan L. Hecht.
  • 50.5 percent for Justice David Medina.

Comparing overall the HBA tallies from 2007 to the latest (2007/2009):

                                            Outstanding         Acceptable          Poor

Justice Brister                        37.4/35.9             17.0/21.1            45.6/43.0

Justice Green                         36.8/25.1             32.6/31.1            30.6/43.7

Justice Hecht                         37.3/33.8             15.1/18.6             47.6/47.6

Chief Justice Jefferson           56.2/51.5             22.3/21.4             21.5/27.1

Justice Johnson                      37.6/31.9             27.1/31.9             35.3/36.2

Justice Medina                        41.2/21.9             30.0/27.6             28.8/50.5

Justice O'Neill                         59.3/52.5             26.2/28.5             14.5/19.0

Justice Wainwright                  47.5/40.3             27.4/25.6             25.1/34.1

Justice Willett                         31.8/27.4             22.9/28.8             45.2/43.7

As you can see, all justices lost ground in the "outstanding" category, with Justices Green and Medina slipping the most (11.7 and 19.3 percentage points, respectively).

We can't read too much into the straw poll.  It doesn't look at all scientific.  But neither does it look good — overall.

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1 Yes, we belong to the HBA — an artifact of starting the law practice in the Space City.