To the editor:

I write this letter in response to Mr. Owen Fuqua’s paid ad in Sunday and Tuesday’s newspaper which was done in the form of an open letter to the citizens of Brown and Mills counties. As to Mr. Fuqua’s unfortunate experience with the litigation process, as an attorney and litigant myself sometimes, I can sympathize with his frustrations in losing his case, but blaming the judge is a misguided conclusion.

Every time I have had a case before Judge Ellis, I can say that he treated both me and my opponents fairly and his decisions were based upon his solid understanding of the law as applied to the facts of the case and nothing more. I cannot say this about all judges that I have gone before, but this can be said about Judge Ellis.

Further, most of the cases that are heard in District Court are civil cases, and out number criminal cases about 2 to 1. Mr. Fuqua’s case sounds like a complicated case and involves serious issues. This is why it is important to have a judge who has a long and respected record of trying these types of cases for almost 12 years as a judge and as a leading lawyer in our area for over 20 years.

With this being said, by no means am I against Judge Ellis’ opponent. Matter of fact, I like him and he did a very good job as a criminal prosecutor, and I have no more of a personal relationship with Judge Ellis than with Mr. Sims. However, where my decision was made and should likewise be important to others is why is there any need to replace a very strong, experienced, and dedicated judge who has been doing an excellent job. I would have felt the same for Mr. Sims if he were going to be terminated and replaced as a criminal prosecutor.

Mr. Sims, whom Mr. Fuqua is supporting, is definitely a nice guy, but experience is very important, and frankly speaking, Judge Ellis should not be replaced when he is very experienced and doing an excellent job. We need a judge like Judge Ellis who has the depth of knowledge of Texas law, and it is a serious concern having a judge making rulings on complex legal issues in civil cases, similar to Mr. Fuqua’s case, in which this experience is limited to doing a handful of adoptions and divorces.

If Mr. Fuqua truly wants fairness and justice in the litigation process, this can only be achieved with having a judge who has years of experience as an attorney and judge….has a proven record in dealing with civil, family and criminal cases …and is passionately dedicated to his work.

What makes for a good judge is a person that truly cares about the community. No one can dispute the personal dedication and honorable character of Judge Ellis and the countless hours of civic work he has devoted to this community going back long before he became our judge.

What is also respectable about Judge Ellis is that he is a promoter of families and children and has been recognized and honored by his peers and the State of Texas for family law programs he has implemented. This is also reflected by Judge Ellis’ own family and their involvement in the community, and his years of experience as an attorney and judge in dealing with countless divorces and family law matters. With almost 50 percent of all marriages ending in divorce, we need a judge who has years of experience as an attorney and judge in handling these types of cases. This is a must and why you will see Ellis signs in the yards of most of our family law attorneys in town.

What is also important to this community is the issue of crime. What I have seen Judge Ellis do, as recorded week after week in the local media, is let the punishment fit the crime and the criminal. Unfortunately, our prison systems does not allow for a judge to “throw away the key” as to all criminals, even though many of us may sometimes want this. Candidates like making the campaign promise about being “tough on crime,” but it is nothing more than good election year propaganda. Therefore, proper sentencing is necessary for each criminal case. If you have paid attention to some of the jail time reported in the Bulletin over the years, Judge Ellis cannot be said to be anything other than “tough on crime”, and he may have actually “thrown the key away” on some of our worse offenders.

With all respect, Mr. Fuqua is not accurate in believing that the attorneys in town desire for Judge Ellis to be replaced. To be candid, if Mr. Fuqua truly cares about justice and fairness, terminating Judge Ellis’ employment, without cause, just because he lost his case would be most unfair and a travesty of justice for Judge Ellis when he does not desire to lose his job, and certainly desires to continue serving this community.

Where Mr. Fuqua is correct, however, is that it would be an injustice and unfair to parties to litigation and their attorneys to spend countless hours of time and expense on a case only to see the case lost, not for the merits of the case, but due to an inexperienced judge who does not know the law or simply does not care about doing what is right regardless of how unpopular it may be. This cannot be said about Judge Ellis. Moreover, I have had top notch attorneys from much larger cities who have had cases before Judge Ellis express to me how impressed they were of Judge Ellis. And, I would not be writing this letter, if I did not appreciate and have high regard for Judge Ellis as our judge, regardless of who was running against him.

As the older and wiser generation can attest, years of experience and dedicated service does not warrant a need for change; especially when it comes to electing our district court judge. Judge Ellis has been dedicated in serving this community and he deserves to be re-elected.

Bill Ruth

Attorney and former

Republican County Chairman