Dallas Judge Is Re-Elected After COVID Jail Time Controversy

Law360 (November 4, 2020, 12:56 AM EST) -- Dallas County District Court Judge Eric Moyé on Tuesday won his bid for a fourth term presiding over the county's 14th Judicial District, defeating his Republican challenger, Ross & Smith PC attorney Jessica Voyce Lewis.

Judge Moyé's win was part of a Democratic sweep of the Dallas County judiciary. 

Judge Moyé, who was first elected in 2008, defeated Lewis, receiving 62.69% of the vote to Lewis' 37.31%. He won another four-year term after a headline-generating year in which he drew criticism from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for jailing a salon owner who opened her business in violation of COVID-19 emergency orders.

He was publicly chastised by Abbott and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in May for sentencing owner Shelley Luther to seven days in jail for violating a restraining order prohibiting her from operating her salon during the public health crisis.

The jail decision became a lightning rod in state political circles as Paxton called it "another political stunt in Dallas" and dragged Judge Moyé into the struggle between Democratic urban areas and the Lone Star State's top Republican officials over how best to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

Two days after Luther's sentencing, the Texas Supreme Court ordered her release and Abbott eliminated jail time as a punishment for violating the judge's coronavirus-related orders. Luther has since unsuccessfully tried to get Judge Moyé removed from her case, which is ongoing.

Before joining the bench, Judge Moyé started his career at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP. He then became partner at Vial Hamilton Koch & Knox LLP before founding Vincent & Moyé PC, according to his campaign website.

While on the bench, he has earned a reputation for moving cases quickly, he said, leaving him with the lowest number of active cases in the county.

Judge Moyé earned his undergraduate degree from Southern Methodist University and his law degree from Harvard Law School.

Lewis campaigned against him on a platform of restoring faith in the courts. She is a bankruptcy and business attorney with about 10 years of experience in Texas, and had said on the campaign trail that her affinities in administration and problem solving would help her increase the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the court process. 

Lewis started her career at Baker Botts LLP and then spent two years as an attorney for the nonprofit Advocates for Community Transformation, representing residents of high-crime neighborhoods, before returning to private practice as counsel at Ross & Smith in 2016, according to her campaign website.

Democrats swept three other judicial seats that were up for grabs Tuesday. Judge Maricela Moore, who presides over the county's 162nd District Court, won her reelection bid, receiving 64.16% of the vote to Republican challenger Jordan Montgomery Lewis' 35.84%. Judge Moore was first elected to the bench in 2016, and holds an undergraduate degree from Boston College and a law degree from the George Washington University Law School, according to her campaign website. 

Judge Mike Lee, a Republican appointed to preside over the county's 95th District Court in July, lost his seat to Democratic challenger Associate Judge Monica Purdy, who received 63.79% of the vote to Lee's 36.21%. Judge Purdy was appointed to her current position in February 2013. She holds an undergraduate degree from Spelman College and a law degree from Texas Southern University's Thurgood Marshall School of Law, according to her campaign website. 

Judge Ashley Wysocki, a Republican appointed to preside over the county's 254th District Court in January 2019, also lost her seat to a Democratic challenger, family law attorney Kim Brown, who received 63.87% of the vote to Judge Wysocki's 36.13%. Brown holds an undergraduate degree from Spelman College and a law degree from the University of Texas School of Law. 

--Editing by Cole Hill.

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