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?
Judge Jim Jordan and I am running for Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court.
2. What kind of cases does this court hear?
The Supreme Court has statewide appellate jurisdiction in civil cases, which include contract, personal injury, family and juvenile cases. (The Court of Criminal Appeals is the high court for criminal cases.)
The Court's jurisdiction is discretionary; that is, the Court decides what cases it will take. Parties do not have a right to have their cases heard by the Court. Instead, they petition the Court to review their cases, and only about 10% of the cases are granted review.
A justice must review dozens of petitions every week while keeping up with the more in-depth review of causes by writing opinions and hearing oral argument.
The Court also administers the Texas judiciary. Those duties include promulgating rules to govern court cases, lawyers, and judges,
3. Why are you running for this particular bench?
Because I am very concerned that the court has become ideological, pursuing its own policy agenda and thus threatening our constitutionally guaranteed right to a jury trial. Many members of the bar share my concern.
4. What are your qualifications for this job?
Judicial Experience: Judge 160th District Court; former judge 44th District Court
Leadership Experience: Elected by my fellow 39 District Court Judges as the Local Administrative District Judge of Dallas County, Texas; Former President, Garland Bar Association
Legal Experience: Board Certified Civil Trial Law since 1984; Served two terms District 6A Texas Bar Grievance Committee; teacher of trial advocacy skills at Southern Methodist University & Louisiana State University law schools and at the National Institute of Trial Advocacy (NITA)
5. Why is this race important?
There is a growing concern that the court is pursuing an ideological agenda rather than following its historic duty of protecting constitutional rights and applying the law. Partisanship should never enter into a judge's chambers. A judge's robe is black -- not blue or red.
The court's backlog has been well documented. I want to establish procedures that encourage timely disposition of case, including identifying judges who are behind in their work and eliminating judicial filibustering -- the practice of allowing a judge to pull a case from consideration when that judge is in the minority in the hopes of gaining votes as the court changes, or as other judges are simply worn down.
6. Why should people vote for you in November?
I bring a wide range of legal experience and leadership to the highest civil court in Texas. I have served as a trial judge for the 44th and 160th District Courts in Dallas County. I am and have been since 1984 board certified in Civil Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, a distinction earned by less than 2% of Texas attorneys. Before going on the bench, I had more than 25 years experience in representing a wide variety of clients, including small business men and women, police officers, individuals, and businesses as both plaintiff and defendant, in both trial and appeals courts. I am a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates, an organization that recognizes only the most experienced attorneys representing both plaintiffs and defendants whose purpose is to protect the right of trial by jury for all citizens, and the William Mac Taylor Inn of the Court, the purpose of which is to mentor younger attorneys and to support the Constitution. Because the Texas Supreme Court hears a variety of different types of cases, my broad experience makes me uniquely qualified to serve.
I have prior judicial experience on the bench, which my opponent did not have prior to his appointment by Gov. Perry. As a trial judge, I have encountered firsthand the legal issues that the Supreme Court ultimately reviews, including the frontline reality of the application of the rules and decisions handed down by it. My service in leadership positions for both attorneys and judges gives me the experience to take on this leadership position with confidence.
Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 28, 2008 to Election 2008