Mark Bennett, Court of Criminal Appeals

Few external forces could move me to post, but the announcement by  Houston criminal defense lawyer Mark W. Bennett has done so.



That, friends, is why I’m running for office.


“What office?,” you might ask.


My first thought was to seek a seat on the Texas legislature. But when I learned that the Libertarian Party of Texas needed a candidate for one statewide office to have a full ticket, and that the office was right in my bailiwick—not politics, but criminal law—an office that ought to be beyond partisan politics, an office that is polluted by the two-party system, and an office in which I could do real and lasting good, I knew that was the race for me.


And that’s why I’m running for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

I’ve come to know Bennett pretty well over the years. In person. On the telephone. Online.  Incredibly smart. Scrupulously honest.  Possessed of the sensibilities that I would ask of a person in whose hands another person’s life would rest. 

We often joke that anyone who wants to wear the robe isn’t the right person for the job.  But Mark’s not the sort of guy to desire power.  No need to laugh at his jokes or compliment his excellent choice of cowboy boots.  He is, however, the sort of guy who will sit in his chambers all night long just to make sure there is someone there to read the motion for a stay, rather than lock the doors and put a man to death.

Death.  Unlike such refined places as New York, Texas kills people, and does so at an alarming pace.  Its tradition of saying “oops” after learning that they killed the wrong one is even more alarming, at least to Mark. 

As the title to the post of Mark’s announcement says, Bennett, Dissenting.  The voice of the trench lawyer, the criminal defense lawyer, the person for whom procedure doesn’t trump right and wrong, is missing on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. It’s missing on pretty much every court, but then, no other court (with the exception of the Supremes) needs it as badly as Texas.  Somebody has to sit in the office next to Sharon “Killer” Keller.

Mark is running on the Libertarian Party line.  It’s not exactly clear how much of a libertarian he is, as I’ve never known him to toe a party line to the exclusion of deeper thought and better ideas.  While his belief that more laws, more government, is not the solution to all evils has never wavered, the only thing he’s ever been really dogmatic about is his hatred of totalitarianism.  Nothing there with which to disagree.

Mark Bennett doesn’t come from a long tradition of judicial service.  Mark doesn’t come from one of Texas’ leading dignified law firms.  Mark isn’t the scion of huge oil money, a baseball team or thousands of ranch acres. Mark comes from the courtroom.  Given the metric by which the voters elect a person for the bench, Mark is not the usual candidate.  Knowing the man, I can state with absolute assurance that he’s not the usual candidate.

Which seems like a damn good reason to break my silence.  Texas needs Mark W. Bennett on its Court of Criminal Appeals.  Because of who he is. Because of what he will do. And because he’s not the usual candidate.  The People of Texas demand better of their Court. They now have the opportunity to make that happen. 

Vote for Mark W. Bennett for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

16 comments on “Mark Bennett, Court of Criminal Appeals

  1. Felicia Herman

    Well this certainly has improved my day both seeing you post again and the great news about Mark.

  2. Alex Bunin

    You have a blog too? Who knew?

    In my position, I do not endorse anyone for a bench or DA, but Mark is a very smart attorney and I wish him well.

  3. Adam

    You bloggers. You’re all alike. You act like you’re going to stop blogging, then *bam*. You can’t stay away. I hope (against hope, probably) this signals the return of daily insight from my favorite law blogger. Who knows, maybe now that you’ve broken your neat “final post is my goodbye” barrier, you’ll end up with some more posts. If not, goodbye; I found you far too late in your blogging career.

  4. AP

    I hope this post means that I can start referring to the last couple of weeks at Simple Justice as the “Dream season” just like on the TV show Dallas.

    [Ed. Note: This post is about Mark Bennett, not SJ. Focus.]

  5. Catherine Mulcahey

    I’m not going to vote for him, but only because I don’t live in Texas, and I’ve heard that they’re not that fond of outsiders.
    I am happy to know that if the issue is important enough to you, there will be Simple Justice.

  6. Mark Bennett

    The outpouring of good wishes has been gratifying, but nothing has touched me as much as your return from retirement. Thank you.

    (Oops. I forgot: Me. Me, me, me, me. I never was any good at that.)

  7. Jackie Carpenter

    I, for one, cannot wait to cast that vote . . . and I will do so proudly! This is a huge step toward justice and common sense in the judiciary, Mark.

  8. SHG

    There are more important things in the world than my concerns. This is one of them.

    Bennett. Bennett, Bennett, Bennett. Bennet. Allow me to say it for you.

  9. Mark

    Scotty’s back for the attack . . .

    [Ed. Note: The post is about Mark Bennett. Bennet, Bennet, Bennett. Not only are off topic comments inappropriate, but don't call me "Scotty" or him "Marky," Marky]

  10. Orin Kerr

    I would comment, but this blog is defunct, so obviously there is nothing new to comment on.

    [Ed. Note: This is hereby deemed a heart-felt endorsement of Bennett's candidacy. I assume your check is in the mail?]

  11. Ross

    Count me as a Bennett supporter. At last, a candidate for a Texas judicial spot I can vote for without holding my head in shame for compromising.

  12. Cynthia Henley

    Mark Bennett is an excellent candidate. I’m surprised he is running only because he is such a great lawyer – truly cares about what he is doing in representing the accused, as well as helping out fellow defense lawyers. He will make a wonderful judge – exactly what we need in Texas’ highest court of criminal injustice. Maybe he can straighten some BS out up there. He has my support, and I will be sure to do what I do every election – hand out my list of “who to vote for” in the criminal world to friends and family. I hope for us all that Mark gets a place on The court.

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