August 26, 2013
Contact: David Butts at 512-413-1153 or Diane Henson at 512-633-5214
AUSTIN – Former Third Court of Appeals Justice Diane Henson announced today that if Judge John Dietz decides to retire, she will run for his seat on the 250th District Court in Travis County in the Democratic primary to be held in March 2014.
Henson was elected to the Third Court of Appeals in 2006 and during her six-year term, she served on more than 2,000 three-judge panels and personally authored more than 700 opinions. During her tenure as an appellate judge, she consistently received high bar poll ratings, and during 2012, she was the top vote-getter in the State Bar’s Judicial Preference Poll among four incumbent judges who were up for re-election. Henson was narrowly defeated for re-election due to Mitt Romney soundly winning 23 of the 24 counties in the district. Henson stated: “I proudly carried Travis County with 62% of the vote, but it wasn’t quite enough to overcome the straight ticket voting in the rural counties.”
Henson has the support of many of the top lawyers in Austin, including Mike McKetta, Mike Slack, Buck Wood, Dicky Grigg, Broadus Spivey, and Becky Beaver. “I am honored to have so much support from lawyers,” Henson said. In addition, Henson has been endorsed by Sheriff Greg Hamilton and former Travis County Democratic Party Chair Chris Elliott.
Henson commented, “A judge must be a steward of our Constitution, and a judge must speak truth to power. I was proud to be on the panel that ordered the DNA testing in Michael Morton’s case that led to his exoneration. I was proud to author the opinion upholding a lesbian married couple’s right to get divorced in Texas. And when my Republican colleagues, after holding up the prosecution of Tom Delay for years, released an opinion that ‘checks were not funds’ under the money laundering statute, I was proud to write a detailed dissent explaining why I thought they were wrong. My arguments ultimately prevailed in the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, and the prosecution went forward.”
An honors-law graduate, Henson began her career as a federal prosecutor for the Department of Justice in Washington D.C., where she investigated and prosecuted corrupt politicians. In 1983, Henson arrived in Austin and began working for Graves, Dougherty, Hearon & Moody. Within three years, she was named the firm’s first female litigation partner. Since leaving the bench, Henson has been a partner at Ikard Wynne LLP.
During her career, Henson has been involved in many significant cases concerning children and their right to participate in scholastic and extra-curricular activities. Her Title IX cases opened the doors for thousands of girls to play sports and to compete for equitable scholarship dollars (and resulted in the University of Texas adding women sports teams in soccer, softball, and rowing).
With more than 25 years of trial and appellate experience in both civil and criminal litigation before taking the bench, and after six years on the intermediate appellate court, she is uniquely qualified to be elected to one of the State’s most important trial courts.