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?
I am Hazel Jones and I am the Democratic Nominee for Judge of the 338th Criminal District Court of Harris County, Texas. I am a mother, a friend to many and a person who cares about our community. Most importantly, I am a part of this community; a product of this great city and county. I grew up in northeast Houston and graduated with honors from M.B. Smiley High School in 1984. Both of my parents were teachers in Harris County for over 40 years combined. My parents taught me basic principles that I believe are important for a judicial candidate and judge. They taught me to be respectful of others, to be genuine in character and person; they taught me to be humble, yet strong in the midst of adversity; and they taught me about fair play and about the value of truthfulness and honesty.
2. What kind of cases does this court hear?
The 338th Criminal District Court hears felony cases that are filed in Harris County. Felony cases are those that are punishable by imprisonment for more than one year or by death.
3. Why are you running for this particular bench?
I am running for Judge of the 338th Criminal District Court because I believe that there is a need for positive change in the Harris County Judicial System. Unlike my opponent, after leaving the Harris County District Attorney's Office, I broadened my professional experience as a prosecutor in federal court and as a criminal defense attorney in State court before seeking the judicial bench.
If the citizenry is looking for a judge who will be fair to all persons, truly open to hearing and considering the arguments from both parties in the courtroom, intellectually honest in reaching its rulings, and presiding over a court without being influenced by the policies and procedures of the District Attorney's Office, then the best jurist on the bench is a person who has not only worked as a Harris County prosecutor but who has worked on the other side of the table as a defense attorney, and who has experienced and worked in other jurisdictions. I am such a person.
4. What are your qualifications for this job?
I have practiced criminal law in Harris County and in the surrounding counties for over 11 years. I graduated from Howard University Law School in 1996. I became licensed the same year and began working as a Harris County Assistant District Attorney. I worked over six years at the Harris County District Attorney's Office as a misdemeanor and felony prosecutor trying over 50 cases to Harris County juries. I have also worked as a Special Assistant United States Attorney for over two years trying eleven cases to federal juries. I am currently a criminal defense attorney practicing in State court and Federal court in the Southern and Eastern Districts of Texas.
5. Why is this race important?
This race is very important to all those in Harris County who want to see a positive change in the judicial system. The problem with maintaining integrity, fairness, and justice is not solely a problem of the District Attorney's Office; the problem is systemic impacting the courtrooms in Harris County.
One of the most important reasons that this race is important is because there is a realistic opportunity to change the make-up of the judicial bench. There is a realistic opportunity to place persons on the bench who will question long held practices and procedures that are not necessary for the administration of justice. One practice that is in question is the procedure of assembling a grand jury. We need a procedure that will fairly represent all of the citizens of Harris County in the selection of grand jurors.
6. Why should people vote for you in November?
I bring a broader perspective to the judicial bench because I have worked from both sides of the table in the courtroom in both State and Federal Court. I have experienced the strengths and the weaknesses in the system and have recognized the need for change. As a result, I will bring positive reform, integrity, fairness, and justice to the courtroom. A vote for "Hazel Jones" is a vote for confidence in the judicial system, and, of course, a vote for safety in our community. I want all citizens of Harris County to feel safe and confident when they walk down the streets of their neighborhoods no matter what part of town they may live. Protecting the citizenry from those who refuse to follow the laws of this State would be my utmost concern and responsibility as judge. Punishment should be swift, fair, and just making a deterring impact on those who refuse to abide by the laws of this State. I believe the people of Harris County want this type of positive change in their judiciary, and that is why I believe they should vote for me as Judge of the 338th Criminal District Court because I will bring that change to the bench.
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.
Mike Miller, 11th Civil Judicial District Court.
Andres Pereira, 190th Civil Judicial District Court.
Steven Kirkland, 215th Civil Judicial District Court.
Martin Siegel, Court of Appeals, 14th District, Place 7.
Randy Roll, 179th District Criminal Court.
Leslie Taylor, Court of Appeals, First District, Place 5.
Kyle Carter, 125th Civil Judicial District Court.