Frankly, not much press attention was given to Betty Heitman. co-chairman of the Republican National Committee, when she visited Dallas in May to announce the names of the women who had agreed to serve on the newly formed National Women’s Coalition. Maybe everyone should have paid closer attention.
Why? The names on her Texas list are impressive, as are the names of nearly 100 women across the nation who are coming together in the final months before the November presidential election.
Attorney Kay Bailey Hutchinson and former Texas first lady Rita Clements head the Dallas list. Other familiar Texas names include Anne Armstrong of Armstrong, Texas, former ambassador to the Court of St. James; Houston Realtor Olivia Garza; Houston restaurateur Ninfa Laurenzo; and Marcella Perry, president of Heights Savings Association in Houston.
Last month’s “Inside Dallas” examined the use of visiting judges in the Dallas County Court system and the problems it causes for attorneys, who can’t always be sure which judge will hear their case.
Now it appears as if several more judges, especially in the family law courts, are taking a harder look at the situation, according to Judge Frances Harris. Harris was the first judge to post a veto policy that gives attorneys appearing before her court the right to refuse to have their cases heard by a visiting judge.
Visiting judges can be requested by a presiding judge who wants help in moving cases through the court system. But the complaint by attorneys and clients is that too often, the visiting judge isn’t familiar with new laws or has no experience in specific legal areas, such as family or criminal law.