By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
Criminal courts Administrative Judge George Godwin says that defeated judges are no longer used for special courts that require a judge's services on a nearly full-time basis. That leaves them as only temporary fill-ins for sitting judges. Defeated judges can serve only if the sitting judge specifically asks for them by name.
Godwin says he was unaware of Densen's pending case before the judicial conduct commission and that technically it would have no bearing on his work as a visiting judge. "But theoretically, of course, we've tried to certainly avoid any kind of controversy or anything of that nature," allows Godwin, "since a lot of people have very strong feelings about the visiting judge program and what-have-you."
Asked about Densen's complaint regarding the higher cost to the taxpayer of using out-of-county judges, Godwin says he's more concerned about the quality of a judge than the size of their expenses.
"Expenses are always a factor, because everybody looks at the bottom line, but we're looking for qualified judges to sit and man those courts," says Godwin. He believes the public wants quality justice rather than budget judges.
Densen may be pining for a bench, but the man who signs off on the visiting-judge assignments shows little sympathy for his plight.
"The fact remains that if the citizens of Harris County wanted Woody Densen to sit on the bench down here," opines Godwin, "they wouldn't have unelected him."
-- Tim Fleck