A Collin County judge best known for his role in the criminal case against Attorney General Ken Paxton lost his job Tuesday night after failing to force a runoff in a four-person primary election.
Judge Scott Becker, who was appointed to the 219th Judicial District bench in 2010 by Gov. Rick Perry, and easily re-elected in 2014, won’t even be on the ballot this fall, after pulling just 25.31 percent of the vote Tuesday.
Attorney Jennifer Edgeworth won the Republican nomination outright with 50.82% of the vote.
Becker briefly presided over the Paxton case right after the indictments were handed up, and made the decision to bring in three private attorneys from Houston to serve as special prosecutors, rather than asking a neighboring district attorney to try the case.
Becker also agreed to pay those attorneys $300 an hour, a decision that an appeals court last year ruled was illegal, although that ruling is still being reviewed by the Court of Criminal Appeals.
Becker’s decision resulted in legal bills of $810,000 and counting, all payable by Collin County taxpayers, in the service of prosecuting a theoretical securities law violation that’s already been found meritless in federal court.
Meanwhile, a local politician known for questioning those legal bills is likely to become the next County Judge, following the primary.
Chris Hill, who joined with his colleague Susan Fletcher on the Commissioners Court in challenging the $300-an-hour handshake deal, won his own race for the Republican nomination for Collin County Judge, with 60.84 percent of the vote.
The general election in November is something of an afterthought in the heavily Republican county. Incumbent Keith Self did not seek re-election.
Becker will be returning to private life, as did his friend and former colleague on the bench, Chris Oldner, who oversaw the grand jury’s indictment of Paxton, before recusing himself after his wife was discovered gloating about the sealed indictment.
Oldner and Becker both came up as prosecutors under former District Attorney John Roach, who was known for conducting criminal investigations of his political enemies.
Judge George Gallagher of nearby Tarrant County, who presided over the case for more than two years, until a higher court ordered him off last year, was safe from any voter backlash, not facing a primary election until 2020.