Note: This entry is part of a series of written Q&As with judicial candidates who will be on the ballot in Harris County. I am also doing recorded interviews with non-judicial candidates.
1. Who are you, and what are you running for?
My name is Shawna L. Reagin and I am the Democratic candidate for the 176th Criminal District Court.
2. What kind of cases does this court hear?
This is a felony court. It has jurisdiction over all felony proceedings, from death penalty capital murders on down to state jail felonies, such as possession of less than a gram of cocaine or theft involving value of more than $1,500 to less than $20,000. Other felonies include robbery, sexual assault, murder, various types of theft and most drug offenses.
3. Why are you running for this particular bench?
The incumbent has had a long history of refusing to follow the law with regard to assessing probation for eligible offenses and setting bonds, leading to several recusals and eroding confidence in the impartiality of the bench. I believe this behavior stems, in part, from the complacency born of years without meaningful challenge, so I decided in the Spring of 2006 that I would run for this court as a Democrat. The past several years of Republican hegemony in the trial and appellate courts of this county and state have spawned a pro-prosecution judicial activism that has greatly reduced accused citizens' rights to a fair trial and due process of law; the rule of law needs to be restored.
4. What are your qualifications for this job?
While still in law school, I served an academic internship with the Harris County D.A.'s office and I have been a solo practitioner of criminal law since I was licensed in 1989. I have handled thousands of felony cases at both the trial and appellate levels, from death penalty capitals on down. I have spoken at seminars throughout the state and have published numerous articles on criminal law issues. I am a former Associate Director of the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association and Chair of the Criminal Law and Procedure Section of the Houston Bar Association. I have been the Editor of the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association's quarterly magazine, The Defender, since 2005.
5. Why is this race important?
The judiciary actually has more of an impact on most people's daily lives than the majority of other elected offices, yet judicial races tend to be ignored by everyone except lawyers. The race for the 176th District Court is important because it offers the opportunity to choose change, to end the years of problems that caused complaints without action and to elect a qualified individual who is committed to fairness, courtesy and justice for all. The judicial races in general are important because the citizens of Harris County finally have the opportunity to restore fairness and balance to a system that has been corrupted by an undue emphasis on being "tough," to the exclusion of all other concerns.
6. Why should people vote for you in November?
People should vote for me for all of the reasons stated above: I am the most qualified candidate for this bench, I have more legal experience than any judge currently sitting on a felony trial bench had before taking office and my life experience enables me to understand the issues confronting working people and those whose lives have been marked by poverty, abuse and lack of education. I love the law and I have devoted most of my adult life to the struggle of protecting individuals' constitutional rights. I look forward to continuing to uphold, preserve and protect our Constitution.
Dion Ramos, 55th Civil Judicial District Court of Harris County.Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 21, 2008 to Election 2008