Attorney Steven Denny and Justice Larry Doss Are Campaigning for Amarillo’s 7th Court of Appeals

Enika Vania

Lawrence Doss and Steven Denny (L to R) Lawrence Doss and Steven Denny (Photo: Courtesy Photo)

Trial law experience versus judicial experience is the match-up in the Republican Primary race between two candidates competing for the Seventh Court of Appeals in Amarillo.

Steven Denny, an Amarillo criminal and appellate attorney, and incumbent Justice Larry Doss of Lubbock are in the race for the Place 4 seat on the court. The runoff victor will win the bench, since there’s no Democratic opponent in November.

“My courtroom experience sets me apart from my opponent. We both have substantial appellate experience, but I am the only candidate and will be the only Justice on the Seventh District Court of Appeals with significant criminal trial experience as both a prosecutor and as a defense attorney,” Denny wrote in an email.

But Doss wrote, “I am the only candidate with judicial experience, having been involved in disposing of 140+ appeals since November. Moreover, I am the only candidate with the support of almost all the leaders within the Seventh Court’s jurisdiction.”

Texas Lawyer is publishing Q&As with the judicial candidates in primary runoffs. Early voting runs from June 29 to July 10, and election day is July 14.

Here are the Q&As for Denny and Doss.

Read more: Texas Voters: Meet the Candidates Running for Judge in July Primary Runoffs

Steven Denny

What is a brief biography of work experience, educational qualifications and career honors that you want voters to know about?

Steven Denny Steven Denny (Photo: Courtesy Photo)

After graduation from Texas Tech School of Law, I worked as a trial lawyer on both sides of the criminal courtroom, 5 years as a felony prosecutor and going on 15 years as a defense attorney. I have handled many appeals in the Seventh Court of Appeals and in the Court of Criminal Appeals. I trained judges, appellate judges, police and attorneys while serving as a justice advisor in Afghanistan in 2010-2011 and have taught CLE on various subjects during my 20 years of practice. I taught an undergraduate legal research and writing class at West Texas A&M University. I was recognized by Amarillo Magazine in a 2019 peer survey as a top attorney in Appellate and Criminal Law in Amarillo. I was a recipient of the 2017 SBOT Bob Black Bar Leaders Award. I have coached a Texas High School Mock Trial team yearly since 2002. I routinely write for my law firm website and contribute to legal and nonlegal publications. I currently serve on the State Bar Jury Service Committee and the TCDLA Veterans Affairs Committee. I was inducted into the WTAMU Communication Hall of Fame in 2018.

Why do you want this position?

Over 50{5565a835e8436fceab45047feb07d9b08a17131f67bfa451fc3dea7831c5a73d} of the cases presented to the Seventh Court of Appeals are criminal cases. I think it is vital that the court include justices with criminal trial and appellate experience. A common standard of review in a criminal case is whether something amounts to “trial strategy.” I think it would be very difficult to accurately determine trial strategy if you have not been a trial attorney.


How would you go about managing this court’s docket efficiently and effectively?

Trial Courts devote substantial effort to providing litigants speedy trials. It is my duty as a Justice to ensure that their appeals are handled with the same expediency. The Seventh Court of Appeals had 368 new cases filed in 2018 and another 95 transferred in. To avoid backlog, this court must dispose of more than a case per day, or at least two opinions per week for each of the four justices in that court. That is an easily achievable workload since I already have the knowledge and experience to start reviewing cases from day one.

Where can voters go for more information about you?

– Website: http://www.dennyforjustice.comFacebookResume

Larry Doss

What is a brief biography of work experience, educational qualifications and career honors that you want voters to know about?

Larry Doss Larry Doss (Photo: Courtesy Photo)

Because of my legal experience and judicial temperament, I was appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott to serve on the Seventh Court of Appeals in 2019. The Court of Appeals consists of a 46-county region of the Texas Panhandle and South Plains, where I live and have practiced law.

At the time of my appointment to the bench, I was a partner in the Amarillo-based firm of Mullin Hoard & Brown. I hold more than 18 years of experience personally handling civil and criminal legal matters in trial and appellate courts throughout Texas and the Southwestern United States.

I learned judicial temperament and experience from his early days as a lawyer. Before entering private practice, I served as a law clerk to the Honorable Sam R. Cummings, United States District Judge for the Northern District of Texas.

I am the only candidate to be board-certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in Civil Appellate Law. Board certification in appeals is a rare distinction earned by less than 1{5565a835e8436fceab45047feb07d9b08a17131f67bfa451fc3dea7831c5a73d} of Texas attorneys, which only comes after extensive testing, as well as vetting by judges and peers. I have also earned recognition by my peers as a “Super Lawyer” and top “A-V” rated by Martindale-Hubbell.

Why do you want this position?

More than 10,000 appeals are filed in Texas’ courts of appeals each year; They are heard by only 80 justices. In the Seventh District, I am one of four justices responsible for resolving appeals throughout a geographic region that is larger than the state of Kentucky. Because Texas’ two highest courts, the Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals, get to choose the appeals they hear, our Courts of Appeals are the last forum for most citizens’ appeals to be heard. As a result, we are at a critical time in our history in deciding who we are as a state and how our judges should interpret the law. I promise to work hard to decide each case based on the law as written because every citizen in our district deserves an evenhanded application of the law. Judicial activism may be politically popular elsewhere, but it should have no place in Texas courts.

How would you go about managing this court’s docket efficiently and effectively?

Court efficiency is essential to a working judiciary. I use my expertise in appeals and work hard to dispose of appeals in a timely manner. It is my goal to work to reduce the court’s backlog of cases so that Texas citizens are not required to wait unnecessarily while their appellate matters are being considered.

Where can voters go for more information about you?

– Website:

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