Hays Court-at-Law judge faces first reelection challenge since arrest

The race for a Hays County Court-at-Law seat revolves around Judge David Glickler’s record: His work since joining the bench in 2015 and his arrest nearly three years ago for drunken driving.

“I would encourage voters, if they can, to set aside and forgive the events of May of 2015 and look at my background, my history and my experience,” said Glickler, who is making his first bid for re-election since the arrest.

In his first nine months in office, Glickler says on his campaign website, he reduced a backlog of nearly 1,300 misdemeanor cases to 300 before clearing the backlog altogether. He touted his efforts to line up grant funding for the veterans court, over which he presides, and says he makes himself available at all hours to sign warrants or address emergency motions.

FROM THE ARCHIVES: Hays County Court-at-Law judge pleads no contest in DWI arrest

But it’s the judge’s May 2015 arrest, which resulted in Glickler pleading no contest to driving while intoxicated, that has been the focus of challenger Chris Johnson’s campaign as the two head toward the March 6 Republican primary. The winner likely will get the seat, as no Democratic challenger is in the wings for November.

Glickler was pulled over for speeding and swerving on Interstate 35 between Kyle and San Marcos, and he declined to take breath or blood alcohol tests, maintaining he was not intoxicated. He similarly refused a breath test in a 2004 traffic stop that resulted in a plea to a lesser charge of reckless driving.

For the 2015 arrest, Glickler was sentenced to three days in jail and no fine. With credit for time served the night of the arrest, Glickler said he only had to check in for a “walk-through” of the Hays County Jail to satisfy his sentence.

“I’m watching my judge up here on the bench that I voted for keep committing the same crime over and over again. And I have a hard time watching people go through the system, and they know … he got a better deal than they did,” said Johnson, an assistant district attorney in Hays County.

Glickler, whose docket includes DWI cases, said his mistakes give him a level of compassion needed for the courtroom.

“I am an extremely different person than I was three years ago, and I’m in an extremely different set of circumstances in my life,” Glickler said. “I also, unlike the common everyday citizen, had my arrest record and video played on social media nonstop for three years. That doesn’t happen to everyone and it’s a substantial embarrassing thing that I accept, I brought it onto myself, but I think it gives me a softer understanding of folks who come to court and allows me to connect with people, which is very important for a judge.”

At a candidates’ forum this week, Glickler confronted Johnson over inaccuracies in a flyer mailed to hundreds of Republican voters across the county.

The flyer incorrectly says the arrest happened the same day Hays County residents were dealing with the historic Memorial Day flooding. In fact, Glickler’s arrest happened three days later.

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The flyer also asserts the judge “interfered with the state’s investigation of his arrest.” Glickler said the State Commission on Judicial Conduct never used the word “interfere” in its review of his conduct. However, the panel admonished Glickler for repeatedly telling the deputy who pulled him over that he was a judge, which “would lead a reasonable person to believe that he was trying to influence” the investigation.

Johnson attributed the errors to his own missteps as a first-time candidate. “I’ve stumbled here and there,” he said. “I’ve made some bone-headed errors with regards to dates, for example, that I should have triple- or quadruple-checked.”

“I love Hays County and I love justice, and those are the things that are primarily motivating me,” Johnson added, “and I feel like maybe my focus in the need to replace the judge sometimes overshadows the positive things about me in my campaign.”

Johnson has a considerable lead in fundraising, raising $23,000 since last year (with nearly $12,700 still on hand) to Glickler’s nearly $13,500 haul (with about $3,800 still on hand), according to campaign finance reports. Johnson said his own experience, handling cases ranging from traffic citations to murder, makes him a competitive candidate for the seat.

“One of the things I think I bring to the table is that experience of having seen the wide range of criminal conduct in this county and in Collin County, where I worked before,” Johnson said. “So, I think it helps me come at this with a point of view of someone who’s seen things as bad as they are and also as good as they are.”

Correction: This article has been updated to provide full fundraising amounts for both campaigns. An earlier version provided only partial figures.

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