SAN ANTONIO -

They are called "down ballot races" -- the 27 state district court and 15 county court positions in Bexar County elections that are listed on the ballot well below other positions such as president and statewide offices.

And all are listed by political party affiliation.

“The system today is illogical and irrational and I think it really is not good for the public,” said retired Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson.

Jefferson advocates that judicial candidates be vetted and sitting judges be evaluated by a bi-partisan commission.

“It insures that the assessment of the candidate be based on objective factors and that the list this commission gives is going to be a list of highly qualified candidates,” Jefferson said. 

In Bexar County, a total of 78 attorneys have already indicated that they plan to run for district and county court benches in next year’s election.

And the deadline to file is still 13 days away, leaving time for more prospective candidates to file.

The only current qualification is that candidates have been licensed lawyers for five years.

Jefferson said the large number of candidates confuses voters and little information, aside from political affiliation, is available in order for them to cast a well-informed vote.

“How do voters know?” he said. “In Texas, it’s based on TV commercials, which don’t tell you anything.”

The method Jefferson proposes is based on how judges are elected in several other states. And he said it works.

He said, “This idea of partisanship should have no in how a judge goes about deciding a case.”

The only way to change the way in which judges are elected in Texas is through a constitutional amendment approved by the Texas legislature.

“It’s a hard fight,” the former justice said. “We’ve been trying for a long time, so I’m not saying that it will happen in the next session, but I think it is worth the fight,” Jefferson said.

For a list of recent stories Paul Venema has done, click here.