Political newcomer Lisa Soto defeated Republican incumbent Justice Jeffrey Alley in the race for the El Paso-based 8th Court of Appeals.

Soto won with 60% of the vote among the 17 West Texas counties in the appeals court district. In El Paso County, she received 65% of the vote.

Soto will serve a six-year term as part of a three-judge panel that reviews criminal and civil appeals from lower state and trial courts. Alley was appointed to the bench by Gov. Greg Abbott. 

The last Republican elected to a seat on the 8th Court of Appeals was Ward Koehler in 1988.

This was Alley’s second attempt at being elected to the court. Gov. Greg Abbot first appointed him to fill the vacant chief justice position on the court in 2019. He ran for that seat in the November 2020 general election, losing to Democrat Yvonne Rodriguez who got 65% of the vote. Rodriguez had been a justice on the 8th Court of Appeals before being elevated to chief justice, and Abbott appointed Alley to fill her newly vacated position in December 2020.

Justice of the Peace Precinct 7

Democrat Humberto “Beto” Enriquez, an attorney, defeated Republican Ida Baeza Gardner for Justice of the Peace Precinct 7 with  56% of the vote.

Enriquez will serve a four-year term on the JP court for the Westside and Upper Valley, which hears civil disputes that do not exceed $20,000 and criminal misdemeanors that are not punished by jail time, such as traffic tickets. Texas JP courts also handle truancy cases and evictions.

The winner will take office in January.

Danielle Prokop is a climate change and environment reporter with El Paso Matters. She’s covered climate, local government and community at the Scottsbluff Star-Herald in Nebraska and the Santa Fe New...