Midland attorney Bruce Williams is a candidate for Place 2 justice on the 11th Court of Appeals in Eastland in the March 3 Republican Party Primary election.
Williams, who faces Odessa attorney Frank Hunold in the primary, spoke with the Bulletin during a recent campaign stop. Williams has been an attorney with the Cotton, Bledsoe, Tighe and Dawson, PC law firm in Midland for 37 years.
“I came there straight out of law school and I’ve tried lawsuits all of my career,” Williams said. “I’m one of our senior litigators and I’ve had many thousands of cases.”
Many of those cases go to trial, Williams said, adding that he has appealed cases to the court of appeals.
“I’ve had important cases in front of the Texas Supreme Court,” Williams said. The 11th Court of Appeals covers 28 counties including Brown.
“From those 28 counties, every criminal and civil case that is appealed goes to the Eastland court of appeals,” Williams said. “And of those cases that are appealed there, 92 percent will not be heard by the Texas Supreme Court.”
Williams said the appeals court “kind of flies under the radar. People don’t really know what the court is, and yet it is your court of last resort for those 28 counties in the very vast majority of cases. And so who’s on that court becomes very important.”
Williams said he’s been named by the Dallas Morning News and Texas Monthly as a top Texas trial lawyer in business litigation, is board certified in civil trial law and personal injury law and has a strong understanding of evidence. Williams said he believes he is “uniquely qualified” for the seat.
“There are over 100,000 attorneys in the state of Texas,” Williams said. “Less than 1 percent are board certified in civil trial law. I’m board certified in two areas, which puts me, I think, in a different class of attorney as far as my qualification goes.”
Williams said he served as a member of the administration of the rules of evidence committee for Texas and chaired the committee for three yeas. “So I understand evidence and I’ve dealt with the rules of evidence,” Williams said. “I’ve taken them apart. I’ve examined how they’re applied in trials throughout the state of Texas.
“My qualification, I don’t think, can be questioned for the court of appeals. I’ve drawn an opponent out of Odessa and I don’t find that he has a single case that has been reported in the state of Texas. So he’s not really a trial attorney. I believe I’m embraced by the attorneys in Midland, Odessa and Abilene and I’m here in Brownwood to introduce myself.”
When asked what it takes to be a good appellate court justice, Williams said, “number one, you have to have been there. If I’m going to have somebody build my house, I don’t want somebody that just knows what bricks and mortar are. I don’t want somebody that can read out of a book what you do with brooks and mortar. I want somebody who who has used them, built a lot of houses and done a very good job at it.
“It’s the same way on the court of appeals. I want somebody who’s tried cases, who’s been before courts of appeal, who’s argued these cases, who’s gone to the Texas Supreme Court, who understands this process fully.”
Williams said another quality found in a good appellate court justice is having “very good grasp on procedure and evidence.
“Whether it be a criminal case or a civil case, the evidence is the issue,” Williams said. “Was the evidence substantial? Was it admitted correctly? Were there errors made in the process? Could the jury properly consider the evidence? Does that evidence lead to a conclusion of guilt of innocence? Evidence and procedure — the way that evidence is presented — are the keys of any appeal.”