Former Beaumont ISD attorney announces judicial aspirations

Former Beaumont ISD attorney Melody Chappell

While she says it isn’t set in stone – at least not for another month or so – former Beaumont ISD attorney Melody Chappell has tentatively announced intentions to run for the elected office that will be left vacant as Jefferson County 172nd District Court Judge Donald Floyd retires at the end of his current term.

“I tested my intentions,” Chappell said of her initial declaration, uttered in the fellowship of a Thursday, July 27, Jefferson County Democrats congregation. “My goal is to have a Sept. 1 formal announcement.”

Looking forward at her official notice to run in the judicial election, Chappell said she is apprehensive but hopeful.

“I know it’s going to be a difficult process,” she said.

Chappell, currently legal counsel to the Port Arthur ISD school board and administration, is also the former legal counsel to the Beaumont ISD Board of Trustees and former superintendents set-aside by the state. While retained by Beaumont ISD, Chappell was called in to work a number of high-profile cases on behalf of the school district – including the demolition of the old South Park High building; fighting a voter-approved change to have at-large trustees added to the board; and multi-year renewals of electrician Calvin Walker’s contract after he had not only been debarred from doing business with the state but also federally charged with overbilling the school district for work performed and falsifying invoices submitted to BISD for payment.

Important to remember, Chappell said, is that she doesn’t make decisions for the school boards she works for. However, the longtime attorney said she is expecting to see some negative publicity for the time she spent retained by the school district. According to her, while stepping out into the fray of politics is scary, if no one takes it upon themselves to put forward the effort to serve the community in these roles, the election process is not used to its best benefit.

Chappell, a 1992 graduate of South Texas College of Law Houston, said Judge Floyd’s service has been marked by fairness and diplomacy, leaving a legacy it would be an honor to follow after his departure.

“I tried my very first case in Judge Floyd’s court 25 years ago,” Chappell reminisced. “He’s been a fair judge through the years, and more people need to put their hats in the ring if we are to keep a fair judicial system.”

Floyd has been on the bench in the 172nd District Court since 1989. Prior to district judgeship, Floyd served as a County Court at Law judge and Municipal Court judge, as well as spending time practicing law as an attorney in Port Arthur and trial attorney in the Housing Section of the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.

The election for the district court bench is slated for November 2018.