Note: This entry is part of a series of written Q&As with judicial candidates in contested Democratic primaries. I am also doing recorded interviews with non-judicial candidates. Even though early voting has begun, I will continue to publish the responses I get as I get them.
1. Who are you, and what are you running for?
I am Larry Weiman, the Returning Democratic Candidate for Judge of the 80th Civil District Court.
2. What kind of cases does this court hear?
General civil litigation cases. This includes: Personal Injury cases such as auto and truck accidents, slip and falls, dangerous products, work-related accidents, consumer cases, Medical/Professional Malpractice, business disputes, Insurance Law, Employment Law, Toxic Torts, Construction and Real Estate Litigation and more.
3. Why are you running for this particular bench?
Because I want to bring balance, fairness and justice to our court system where currently we do not have a single Democrat serving on any of the 59 county-wide trial courts in Harris County. I am the only candidate in this race that proudly stepped forward to do this as the Democratic Candidate for this court in the 2006 election when I first started my campaign for the 80th District Court and almost won the first time with 263,507 votes (almost 48%).
As part of my campaign, I am advocating reform of campaign financing laws and practices to eliminate contributions to judges from attorneys/litigants with active cases in their courts.
Current Judicial campaign finance laws allows judges and candidates to accept campaign contributions from attorneys or parties with active cases in their respective courts. This should be changed to eliminate or avoid the appearance of impropriety and/or injustice. As a candidate for judge I have already taken this position by requesting that attorneys or parties who have cases presently pending before the 80th District Court (which is the bench I am seeking) not contribute to my campaign while they are an attorney or party of record in this court.
I will work to establish programs to encourage Jury Duty participation so that we have fair and balanced juries that reflect the diversity of Harris County.
Also, I will work to establish programs in this court to increase efficiency, lower litigation costs and facilitate attorney cooperation with scheduling conferences early in each case where the parties help set an Agreed Scheduling Order to allow timely and fair preparation of cases for mediation/trial.
4. What are your qualifications for this job?
I have a Juris Doctor Degree from South Texas College of Law, a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Management from Boston University and Mediation Certification from the A.A, White Dispute Resolution Center from the University of Houston.
In addition, I have over 16 years of experience representing clients in trial and appellate courts in Harris County and all over Texas. My areas of practice include: Personal Injury, Commercial Litigation, Insurance Law, Medical/Professional Malpractice, Employment Law, Breach of Contract, DTPA, Toxic Torts, Construction, Real Estate Litigation, Products Liability, Premises Liability, Dram Shop. These involved Trials, Mediations, Appeals, Administrative Hearings, EEOC hearings, etc.
5. Why is this race important?
This is the only re-match in the judicial races from the 2006 election (since that race was for the unexpired term of the 80th and now the full term is up). I only have to close a small gap of a little over 2% to win this race and become the first Democratic judge elected in Harris County in over a decade in an effort to bring balance to our courts.
6. Why should people vote for you in the Democratic primary?
I have the most diversified experience in handling the broad range of cases that come before this court. I have represented both Plaintiffs and Defendants in trial courts in Harris County and through Texas during my career and I am the only candidate in this race who is a certified mediator. Therefore, I am able to objectively understand and listen to both sides of a case fairly and impartially.
I am committed to the principle that everyone in our community is entitled to be treated with courtesy, respect and fairness in our courts regardless of their race, religion, gender, ethnicity, age, financial status, sexual orientation or political affiliation. I am the proud father of two grown children and I'm a person who cares about others and tries to give back to the community.
I will continue to work to bring about campaign finance reform to judicial races beginning with eliminating direct contributions from attorneys or parties to judges with whom they have active cases pending in this court. There should never be even the appearance or perception that a party or an attorney has an advantage or disadvantage because of contributions made or not made to the presiding judge, at least while they have a case pending in this court.
I believe that the Civil District Court Judges can help speed up the dockets of the Family Law Courts for citizens who need to get hearings and trials sooner then the current backlog allows. Since there is presently a much higher case load in the 9 Family Law Courts than that of the 25 civil district courts, if elected as Judge of the 80th, I would volunteer to serve at the Family Law Center two days per month to hear discovery, enforcement and other routine motions that any civil district judge can rule on. If at least 18 of the other 25 civil district court judges would agree to sit two days per month at the Family Law Center then there would be at least two civil judges working with each Family Law Court who would alternate so one of them would be present one day each week. While attorneys for the parties would have the right to object, I believe that many would agree to have their routine motions heard more quickly by a visiting civil district court judge rather than waiting a much longer period to appear before the presiding judge or associate judge. This would help move the dockets of these courts by allowing the presiding Family Law Judge and the Associate Judge of each Court to get to the more difficult Family Law hearings and divorce and custody trials much sooner and speed up access to these courts for Harris County citizens.
I am the lone returning Democratic Candidate from any of the 2006 judicial civil court races and I am also the only lifelong Democrat in this race and the only one who has only voted in Democratic primaries because I am true to Democratic values.
Therefore, I bring back a lot of voter support, experience and name recognition to this very same and unique race which takes advantage of all the money, hard work and campaigning that went into to that.
I have been endorsed in this race by The Houston Chronicle, The Jewish Herald-Voice, Democracy for Houston and The Black Baptist Ministers Association among many others.
For a full sorted list of all of my interviews and Q&As for the primary, please see this post, which I will update as any subsequent responses come in.Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 22, 2008 to Election 2008