Partisan judicial elections and the influence of lawyers on judges has long been a source of debate in Texas among those in legal circles. Most recently, a donation made to 258 th District Judge Travis Kitchens in January of this year is raising some eyebrows. Kitchens, who serves Polk, San Jacinto and Trinity Counties is currently involved in a contested primary election against Polk County District Attorney William Lee Hon. Kitchens recently presided over a serious felony jury trial held in neighboring San Jacinto County during the week of January 24, 2022. The case was State of Texas vs. Garrett Marshall Countryman (Cause No. 12,757, 258 th District Court of San Jacinto County) and involved an allegation of a non-consensual sexual assault of an adult female victim, which is a Second Degree Felony under Texas law with a possible punishment of up to twenty years in prison. The January 24 th trial date had been scheduled by Judge Kitchens last November and a pretrial court setting was scheduled for January 5 th. The case was prosecuted by San Jacinto County Assistant District Attorney Todd Dillon and was defended by Livingston Defense Attorney Lana Shadwick Price. At the conclusion of the trial, the jury acquitted the defendant. A week after the trial, it was revealed in a campaign finance report filed on January 31, 2022 by Kitchens with the Texas Ethics Commission that a mere 18 days before the commencement of the trial, on January 6, 2022, Kitchens received a $1000 campaign contribution from Lana Shadwick Price’s husband, Robert Price. This is the maximum allowable contribution allowed from an individual for a judicial campaign for the 258 th District Court Judgeship under Texas Law. According to the Texas Election Code, any contribution to a judge by an individual who is married to an attorney must be reported and include the identity of the attorney spouse. Kitchens’ January 31 campaign report filed with the Texas Ethics Commission and which is available online at www.ethics.state.tx.us identifies the January 6 th $1000 donation by “Robert Price (Mr.)” but makes no mention of his spouse or her occupation as an attorney. Lana Shadwick Price presently operates “Shadwick Law PLLC” with an office in downtown Livingston. According to sources, a complaint has been filed with the Texas Ethics Commission over the manner in which the donation was reported and is presently under review. According to Kitchens' last two campaign reports filed with the Ethics Commission, Kitchens has raised a total of $17,875 for the upcoming primary election with some $9125 coming from attorneys.
Texas Election Code
On January 6th, Lana Shadwick's husband, Bob Price, made a $1,000 donation to the Kitchens campaign.
District Judge Travis Kitchens (right) with Linda Shadwick Price and her husband, Bob, at a Polk County Republican fundraiser on February 3, 2022. (SOURCE: FaceBook)
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