Harris County judge fighting to keep judicial post after clerical error

Tossed off the Democratic ballot for submitting the wrong filing fee, Harris County District Judge George Powell went to court Tuesday, seeking relief from a mistake that clearly wasn’t his own.

"I didn't do anything wrong. I'm looking for a fair and equitable outcome in this case and my attorneys are working hard to achieve that goal for me," said Powell.

Judge Powell testified he was clearly instructed on the December 9 deadline by a volunteer Democratic party clerk to pay a $1,500 filing fee.

24 hours later, Harris County Democratic Party Chair Lilly Schechter informed Powell he should have paid $2,500 and was disqualified from appearing on the ballot.

During testimony at the Harris County Civil Courthouse Marc Malacoff, the Democratic party clerk admitted he instructed Judge Powell to pay the wrong amount and feels terrible about the mistake.

"The issue is they admit they made a mistake. Should he (Powell) be kept from running for judge because of the mistake they made?" said Kent Schaffer, Powell's attorney.


Despite the open acknowledgment of their error, Schechter and the Democratic party are still seeking to exclude Powell from the ballot, claiming it was the judge's duty to pay the appropriate fee and he should have done his homework.

"Ultimately with all candidates, it's the responsibility of that candidate to get their application straight and if we make exceptions, we are going to have endless disputes going on and on and on," said Cris Feldman, attorney for the Harris County Democratic Party.

Also at issue is a $2,500 loan made by Powell to a fellow candidate minutes before the deadline to pay the filing fee. While that prospective candidate, Veronica Sanders, was later disqualified for deficiencies on her application, HCDP deposited her money.

Attorney Schaffer argued that Powell, as the rightful owner of the funds, should be credited with submitting the $2500 before the deadline.

The case was heard by 234th District Judge Lauren Reeder who promised a ruling by Wednesday morning.