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Legal dispute ends in Harris County judicial race

A legal dispute clouding a race for Harris County judge has finally reached a resolution.
A legal dispute clouding a race for Harris County judge has finally reached a resolution. (KPRC)

HOUSTON – A legal dispute clouding a race for Harris County judge has finally reached a resolution.

The Fourteenth Court of Appeals denied an appeal from Natalia Cornelio, the opponent of sitting Judge George Powell in the upcoming primary; effectively ending the dispute.

The legal battle began last month in the race for the bench in the 351st criminal court. Powell sued the Harris County Democratic Party after his application for re-election was rejected. Party officials argued Powell paid an incorrect filing fee and did not pay the correct fee until after the filing deadline passed. Party officials further argued state law prevented them from accepting Powell’s application once the deadline passed.

Powell said the mistake was due to a party employee, who was tasked with helping candidates get applications in before the deadline, providing him incorrect fee information. Last week, a civil court judge sided with Powell and ordered the party to place his name on the March primary ballot.

“Today, justice was done, again. For the second time, in as many weeks, a Texas court has ruled in my favor. See you on the March 3 Democratic primary ballot-1st name on the ballot,” Judge Powell wrote in a statement to KPRC.

Cornelio then appealed the judge’s order, arguing it was Powell’s responsibility to find out the correct filing fee.

“I am running for judge to ensure that our courts serve the community, have better bail practices, and guarantee equal justice under the law. My opponent and I have both been impacted by the uncertainty of this situation, and although it is resolved, the problems in our criminal justice system will continue until we elect judges prepared to do something about them,” Cornelio wrote in a statement to KPRC.