The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Morgan Shiver, Contributor • June 20, 2024
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UG judge loses seat

The election night surprise of Dallas County Democrats has brought another twist into the University Gardens saga.

Presiding Judge Jay Patterson, a Republican, was defeated by Democrat Martin Lowy 52 to 48 percent for the judgeship of the 101st state district court.Patterson was one of many Republican officials in Dallas County caught off guard by the Democratic surge. SMU political science professor Cal Jillson said a combination of demographics and the national political mood allowed Democrats to win.

“Demographic changes have been taking place over the past 15 years in Dallas County,” Jillson said. He said that while a Democratic take over was imminent, it was not expected to the degree that occurred for another few election cycles.

Patterson’s defeat is notable in the case because Gary Vodicka, the man suing SMU over the University Gardens complex, has repeatedly said he does not believe he can receive a fair hearing if Patterson is judge.When asked how Patterson’s defeat could affect the case, Vodicka stuck a more conciliatory tone.”I’m not going to rejoice in someone losing his job,” he said. “I’m not going to rejoice in someone else’s loss…it’s part of the political process.”

Vodicka said that he still believed Patterson was “not unbiased” and stated his desire to have a judge hear his case impartially. SMU officials say it doesn’t matter who the judge is in the case, they are ready to present their side.

“We’ve never depended on who hears the case,” said Brad Cheves, SMU’s vice president for external affairs. “We believe the merits of the case can be heard in any court.”Lowy is a graduate of the Dedman School of Law. He graduated in 1979 first in his class and is currently an adjunct professor for the law school.

The case is in federal court after a Vodicka tenant, James Michael Moore, filed racketeering charges against SMU. The case was sent to Judge David Godbey’s court, but Godbey recused himself earlier this week and the case is now in Judge Jane J. Boyle’s court. No hearing date has been set.

Vodicka sued SMU in August 2005 claiming the university defrauded him and intimidated others out of the University Gardens condominium complex.The land the complex sits on is part of an SMU plan for the building of the Bush Presidential Library. A decision on the location of the library is expected some time in the next few months.

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