Ethics Explorer A Guide to the Financial Interests of Elected Officials

Supreme Court Justice Debra Lehrmann (R)

Industry
Lawyer, State Government
Education
B.A., University of Texas at Austin; J.D., University of Texas School of Law
Spouse
Greg
Financial Statements

Sources of Income

  • Lehrmann served as judge of the 360th District Court in Fort Worth and spent 22 years as a family law judge in Tarrant County before seeking election to the Texas Supreme Court.

     

     

  • Prior to her appointment to the bench, she practiced law with the Fort Worth law firm of Law, Snakard & Gambill.

Property

No properties listed

Analysis

  • Lehrmann was fined $1,500 by the Texas Ethics Commission in 2010 for taking an inappropriate campaign loan from her mother-in-law. She said at the time that she thought her mother-in-law counted as immediate family — the only ones who are allowed to make such campaign loans.  

  • In 2011, Lehrmann and a majority of the court sided with pharmaceutical company Merck & Co., overturning a jury verdict and Court of Appeals decision in favor of the family of Leonel Garza, who died of a heart attack while taking Vioxx. In 2012, Lehrmann received $2,500 in campaign contributions from Baker Botts, the law firm representing Merck & Co. The Garza family and their attorneys were not found to have donated to any Supreme Court justices' campaigns. The decision favoring Merck was 7-0, with the justices determining that expert testimony from an epidemiologist was not sufficient to prove that taking Vioxx caused Garza's heart attack.

  • Asked about the practice of taking contributions from law firms that have business before the court, Lehrmann told The Texas Tribune, "The one group of people who knows who is qualified [to serve as a judge] is lawyers. They support the candidates they know are qualified for the job. It's the one saving grace about the system. ... It's really really important that we have qualified, intelligent judges on the benches who understand the rule of law and the only people who really know that are lawyers. I don't see any way around it if that's the way we do it."