|Current Court Information:|
|Texas Supreme Court|
|Appointed by:||Gov. Rick Perry|
|Past post:||Judge, Fifth District Court of Appeals|
|Law School:||Southern Methodist University School of Law|
|Candidate for:||Texas Supreme Court|
|Election information 2014:|
Nathan L. Hecht is the chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court. Hecht was elected to the court in 1988 and took office on January 1, 1989. He was re-elected in 1994, 2000 2006 and 2012. Hecht is currently the most senior justice of the court.
| Hecht is running for re-election to the Texas Supreme Court.
Primary: He won the Republican primary on March 4, 2014, receiving 60.5% of the vote. He competed against Robert Talton.
General: He will face William Moody (Democratic) and Tom Oxford (Libertarian) in the general election on November 4, 2014.
Below are the results of the 2014 judicial poll, conducted by the State Bar of Texas, which asked attorneys to cast a vote in favor of their preferred candidate in each appellate race.
Hecht ran unopposed in the Republican primary on May 29. He defeated Michele Petty, Mark Ash and Jim Chisholm in the November 6, 2012 general election for Place 6, earning 53.7% of the vote.
- See also: Texas judicial elections, 2012
In an email sent to Judgepedia from Hecht's campaign on September 27, 2012, Hecht is quoted saying,
|“||This race is important to preserve experience and leadership on the Supreme Court of Texas. For 23 years, I have followed the law fairly and consistently and helped develop rules of practice and administration to reduce the expense and delay of going to court. I have also worked to obtain critical funding for legal services, trying to assure that Texas’ poorest citizens have access to the justice system. If elected, I will continue to work for more efficient courts and better access to justice.||”|
Hecht received his B.A. in philosophy from Yale University and his law degree from Southern Methodist University School of Law.
Prior to his election in 1988, Hecht clerked for Judge Roger Robb of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He has served as lieutenant in the U.S. Naval Reserve, worked in private practice, and from 1981 to 1986, served on the 95th District Court. In 1986, he was elected to the Texas Fifth District Court of Appeals, where he remained until he was elected to the Texas Supreme Court.
Awards and associations
- 1984: Outstanding Young Lawyer, Dallas Association of Young Lawyers
- Member, American Law Institute
- Member, Texas Philosophical Society
- Fellow, Texas Bar Association
- Fellow, American Bar Association
- Advisory Board, S.M.U. Law Review
In the News
Miers controversy and aftermath
In May 2006, Justice Hecht was disciplined by the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct for "an improper use of his office and position to promote Harriet Miers' private interest" during the nomination; a three-judge panel exonerated Hecht of the charge after he appealed the decision." The New York Times reported that Justice Hecht assured the Arlington Group, a group of Christian Conservatives, of Harriet Miers' pro-life views. At the time, Miers was nominated to be an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
Refunding legal fees
In March 2007, Hecht said he asked Texas representative Tony Goolsby to propose a bill to force the state to reimburse him for $340,000 in legal fees. Goolsby withdrew the bill after learning Hecht had already been reimbursed for the bill through "donations". Hecht defended his position by saying, “Here is the problem: If judges are sanctioned like this and it’s unjust and it’s wrong and they want to prove it, they can represent themselves or hire a lawyer that you can’t pay for on a judge’s salary.” Hecht earns $152,500 a year.
While working to remove the misconduct sanction imposed on him by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct (due to his support for Harriet Miers), Justice Hecht accrued a bill of $340,000. Ethics violations were charged against him for receiving a $100,000 discount on his legal fees which he never included in his campaign finance report. The law firm,Jackson Walker, appears frequently before the Texas Supreme Court. Moreover, these allegations extend to other Texas law firms as well who provided Hecht with $447,000 to cover his Miers bills as Hecht sided favorably with those firms he solicited and from where he received moneys.
In January 2008, Texas Watch filed a complaint against Justice Hecht on the grounds that he illegally paid for personal travel with political donations; the watchdog organization cited a report from the Texas Ethic Commission that Justice Hecht spent $10,000 from his campaign to fund in-state flights. Even though Justice Hecht will not be up for re-election until 2012, Hecht defended his actions, saying the trips home were for campaigning purposes. Two other Texas Supreme Court justice are now under investigation for similar matters as well: Justice David Medina and Justice Paul Green. Hecht was fined $29,000 after the commission found he committed ethics violations.
Appeal of ethics fine still pending
Hecht began appealing his $29,000 ethics fine in 2009. Texas law allows those charged with a violation by the Texas Ethics Commission to appeal their case to district court. Doing so essentially erases any findings made by the commission and the case starts over. Hecht's case is still pending.
In October 2012, political science professors Adam Bonica and Michael Woodruff of Stanford University attempted to determine the partisan ideology of State Supreme Court justices in their paper, State Supreme Court Ideology and 'New Style' Judicial Campaigns. A score above 0 indicated a more conservative leaning ideology while scores below 0 are more liberal. Hecht received a Campaign finance score (CFscore) of 0.97, indicating a conservative ideological leaning. This is more conservative than the average CF score of 0.91 that justices received in Texas. The study is based on data from campaign contributions by judges themselves, the partisan leaning of contributors to the judges or, in the absence of elections, the ideology of the appointing body (governor or legislature). This study is not a definitive label of a justice, but an academic gauge of various factors.
- Legal Newsline, "Cruz endorses Hecht for Texas Supreme Court," February 18, 2014
- The Supreme Court of Texas, "Justice Nathan L. Hecht"
- Project Vote Smart, "Justice Nathan L. Hecht (TX)"
- Nathan L. Hecht on Twitter
- Legal Newsline, "Texan attorney donors to SC Justice hit 8-for-9 after:watchdog," July 18, 2007
- 1994 election results see 1994 General Election results
- 2000 election results see 2000 General Election results
- 2006 election results see 2006 General Election results
- The Supreme Court of Texas, Justice Nathan L. Hecht
- Texas Secretary of State, 2014 March Primary Election Candidate Filings by County
- The Wichita Eagle, "Hecht chosen as new chief of Texas Supreme Court," September 10, 2013
- Texas Secretary of State: 2014 Republican Party Primary Election, Unofficial Results
- State Bar of Texas: 2014 Judicial Poll results
- Texas Secretary of State: 2012 General Election Summary Select "2012 General Election"
- Texas Republican Party, Candidates for Justice, Supreme Court
- Nathan Hecht Campaign website
- Information submitted to Judgepedia by Justice Hecht's campaign via email on 9/27/2012
- Project Vote Smart, Justice Nathan L. Hecht (TX)
- KXTX.com, "Texas Supreme Court Justice Wants State To Pay Legal Fees," March 9, 2007
- Texas Judges' Salaries
- Did Justice Nathan Hecht Break the Law? Complaints Allege Violations of Penal Code, Election Code, and Judicial Canons
- Texan attorney donors to SC Justice hit 8-for-9 after: watchdog
- "Complaints Filed Against Hecht, Medina for Travel Violations," Texas Watch press release, January 24, 2008
- "Supreme Court Justice Paul Green Breaks State Ethics Law," Texas Watch press release, January 22, 2008
- My SA, "Eluding big ethics fines," September 12, 2013
- Stanford University "State Supreme Court Ideology and 'New Style' Judicial Campaigns," October 31, 2012