In the appointment of the judge to fill the seat of the newly created County Court at Law #7, it has become clear that the County Commissioners’ Court is making the process about political calculations rather than merit.
In the running for the position are former 13th Court of Appeals Justice Linda Yañez and lawyer Rolando Cantu. Linda Yañez has served almost 18 years on the bench and has three decades of legal experience. She has 2 law degrees, including a Master of Laws from the University of Virginia Law School in the Judicial Process and has taught elementary school in the Valley and law at Harvard Law School. She is currently serving as a Visiting Judge in Hidalgo, Cameron and Starr Counties. Since January, 2011 she has moved a docket of over 1500 cases for Hidalgo County citizens. Mr. Cantu, with no experience in a judge’s seat, pales in comparison.
“We took on this issue,” says LUPE Executive Director Juanita Valdez-Cox, “because politics should not have a role to play in appointments.” Appointments should be based on experience and qualifications, and based on her qualifications, it is glaringly clear who the appointed judge should be, she says.
“We understand that the Commissioners are making it political.”
That is why LUPE members have taken their time to attend County Commissioner meetings and are voicing their support for Linda Yañez, she says.
Rolando Cantu says that he would bring “life experience” and “honesty and integrity” to the position. While that may very well be true, it is obvious that Yañez would bring that, as well as three decades of legal experience, with almost 18 of those years spent on the bench.
In addition to her extensive legal and judgeship experience, Valdez-Cox says that Ms. Yañez has extraordinary life experience to bring to the position:
“Linda has a bootstrap life story that resonates with the people of Hidalgo County. She is the daughter of farm workers and she herself worked in the fields in her youth. She is the first Hispanic woman to serve as an appellate judge in Texas. Her law career is heavy on public service, having served as a legal aid attorney in Texas and Illinois. She has practiced extensively in immigration law and on refugee issues.”
“These are experiences that make a person wise, and we need her judicial wisdom on the bench working for Hidalgo County. We urge the Commissioners and County Judge to put a premium on that quality and select Judge Yañez to the newly created County Court at Law #7.”