Justices of the 5th Court of Appeals

The Breakdown

Job Description
  • The 5th Court of Appeals has jurisdiction over Dallas, Collin, Grayson, Hunt, Rockwall and Kaufman counties. 

  • They review all death penalty cases in this region and review applications for writ of habeas corpus. 

    • *habeas corpus is the requirement for a person under arrest to be brought before a judge to ensure the person’s detention is lawful

  • Judges: 13

  • Salary: 154-163k per year

  • Term length: 6 years

  • Qualifications: Must be a US and Texas citizen, have 10+ years experience as a lawyer or judge, and be 35-74

Republican Candidates
Place 6: Incumbent John Browning 
  • Appointed August 2020 by Gov. Abbott to take Justice David Bridges' seat 

  • 31 years of experience as a trial and appellate lawyer

  • He promises to continue Bridges’ legacy as a conservative voice for the court of appeals

Place 8: Incumbent Bill Whitehill
  • Appointed January 2015

  • Has experience as a trial and appellate lawyer

  • Practiced law at one of the oldest Texas law firms, Foley Gardere for 32 years 

  • Believes his job on the 5th Court of Appeals to interpret the law as written

Place 3: David Evans
  • Appointed November 2019 by Gov. Abbott

  • Has 18 years experience as a trial judge and appellate justice 

  • Believes in the endurance of the Declaration and Constitution and intends tointerpret these documents and laws as they were written

Democratic Candidates
Place 6: Craig Smith 
  • Presiding judge for the 192nd Civil District Court

  • Over 40 years of combined legal and judicial experience

  • Believes a judge in this position needs extensive knowledge of the law, the ability to craft strong opinions, and willingness to work collaboratively

  • Presiding judge for the 303rd District Court since 2004

  • Practiced family law in Dallas for over 20 years

  • Was awarded the 2006 Merrill Hartman Judicial Pro Bono Service Award and 2003-2004 Texas Super Lawyer

  • Trained in collaborative law procedure and dispute mediation

  • Presiding judge for the 44th Civil District Court 

  • Has over 25 years of legal and judicial experience

  • Believes a judge should set aside partisanship, ideology, and outside influence when on the bench