Justice Bob Pemberton has departed the Third Court of Appeals before his term was set to expire on December 31, 2018. Governor Abbott wasted no time appointing Mike Toth, the Republican candidate for Justice Pemberton’s open seat, to fill the vacancy. Justice Toth must defeat the Democratic candidate, Travis County District Judge Gisela Triana, to keep his new job.

Justice Pemberton served the Third Court and the people of Texas faithfully and honorably. His experience on the Court will be missed. I wish him well in the next phase of his career.

This deep into election season, it’s hard to imagine Justice Toth will learn much about being an appellate justice before finding out whether he’ll remain one. When campaigning, he’ll have the nominal advantage of being able to say he’s the incumbent. Open-seat races are generally close, though, so it will be interesting to see how he fares against Judge Triana on November 6.