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 Mike Miller and I am the Democratic candidate for the 11th Civil District Court in Harris County.
2. What kind of cases does this court hear?
Civil district courts hear most civil cases except for those involving probate and family law. The general jurisdiction of the civil district courts includes claims involving contracts, torts, property, consumer rights, employment, foreclosures and other collection matters, injunctions, some maritime, civil rights, and federal statutory matters for which there is concurrent jurisdiction with the federal courts, partnership dissolutions, name changes, appeals from workers' compensation administrative hearings, insurance disputes, property tax suits, declaratory judgments, and numerous others.
3. Why are you running for this particular bench?
I am 54 and have been a Texas trial lawyer for 28 years. It is time for me to move from the counsel table to the bench, and I have the experience and temperament to do it. As for this particular bench, I have nothing but positive things to say about the competency and general fairness of my 20 year Republican incumbent opponent, Mark Davidson, except that any lawyer who has spent much time in his court will tell you he has a tendency to be overly impatient with and abusive to lawyers who come before him. Non-lawyers may say: "Good for him, lawyers deserve it," but in my opinion verbal abuse is never appropriate. He also has the reputation of refusing to grant a continuance under nearly any circumstance. As an experienced trial lawyer I know that continuances should sometimes be granted in the interest of justice, and/or to accomodate special circumstances of the parties and their lawyers.
4. What are your qualifications for this job?
I have tried more than 150 jury trials to verdicts in nearly 28 years of practicing law in Texas. I have been board certified in personal injury trial law since 1994, and I am AV rated by my peers for competency and ethics. I have worked as both a plaintiff's and defense lawyer in Harris County for both small and large firms. I have handled hundreds of hearings and depositions during my 20 years practicing in Harris County. I graduated from the University of Texas School of Law and Southwestern University. For more detailed information go to my website at www.miller4judge.com.
5. Why is this race important?
We currently have, and have had for way too long, nothing but Republican judges in Harris County. Any experienced trial lawyer will tell you the judge can make a big difference in the outcome of a jury trial. The trial judge must interpret the rules of civil procedure, rules of evidence, statutes and case law. She/he also has discretion in how to conduct various aspects of a jury trial. It is in that interpretation of the applicable law and the exercise of that discretion that a judge's personal sense regarding what is fair has an impact on the outcome of a given case. It is time to let some Democratic judges do that interpretation and exercise that discretion to restore balance to our local civil justice system.
6. Why should people vote for you in November?
In addition to what I have said above, I support the 2008 Texas Democratic platform and oppose the 2008 Texas Republican platform. Most of that should have little or nothing to do with being a civil district judge, but to the extent my personal political and philosophical opinions will unwittingly have an impact on how I interpret the law and exercise discretion as a judge, there you have it.
Dion Ramos, 55th Civil Judicial District Court.
Shawna Reagin, 176th District Criminal Court.
Al Bennett, 61st Civil Judicial District Court.
Judge Jim Jordan, Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court.