Judicial Q&A: Porscha Natasha Brown

(Note: As I have done in past elections, I am running a series of Q&As for judicial candidates in contested Democratic primaries. This is intended to help introduce the candidates and their experiences to those who plan to vote in March. I am running these responses in the order that I receive them from the candidates. Much more information about Democratic primary candidates, including links to the interviews and judicial Q&As, can be found on Erik Manning’s spreadsheet.

Porscha Natasha Brown

1. Who are you and what are you running for?

I am Porscha Natasha Brown, a Public Defender and Criminal Justice Reform proponent. I have been a Public Defender since 2016. I graduated with a Bachelors of Arts in Criminal Justice from Sam Houston State in 2011, received my law degree from Thurgood Marshall School of Law in 2015, and my Master’s in Public Administration from University of Texas in Arlington in 2018. I am a proud graduate of the Gideon’s Promise Core Training for Public Defenders and I actively work on multiple committees that work to mentor newer public defenders and better indigent criminal legal services.

I am seeking to be the next Judge of Harris County Criminal Court No. 3.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

Harris County Criminal Court No. 3 hears misdemeanor criminal cases. Misdemeanor criminal cases are low level offenses such as Resisting arrest, Evading on foot, Driving while Intoxicated 1st offense and 2nd offense, Assault Family Violence, and small possession of drugs. Misdemeanors are divided into three different levels which are Class A Class B, and Class C misdemeanors. Harris County Criminal Court No. 3 hears only Class A and Class B misdemeanors, while Municipal Courts handle Class C misdemeanors such as traffic tickets. The difference between Class A/B misdemeanors and Class C are that Class A/B are punishable by possible county jail time. Class A misdemeanors may be punishable with probation of up to 2 years or confinement in the county jail for no more than a year and a fine not to exceed $4000, while Class B misdemeanors may be punishable with probation of up to 2 years or confinement in county jail for no more than 6 months and a fine not to exceed $2000.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

I am running to be a Judge because I care. I care about the rights and lives of those accused of a crime, victims of crime, and the community. As a Public Defender, I have seen what types of Criminal Justice reform are successful in real-time and I can also see where we are able to improve to better the chances of successful returns to court and reduce the rate of recidivism. As a crime victim, I have felt unsafe and I don’t want that feeling for anyone else. People should be held accountable once there has been a fair trial and/or sentencing. Unfortunately, even in 2021, there are still unfair trials and disparities in sentencing along racial, gender, and income level. I believe that in pretrial and sentencing we can push for more comprehensive services that provide for future success such as resources that address mental health, substance abuse, and homelessness. I believe that I can be a part of the solution for Harris County and provide a court that is efficient, follows the law, and is fair for all.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

I have been an attorney for 6 years, most of which has been as a Public Defender. I have been to trial on cases ranging from misdemeanors, felonies, and 1st degree felonies, as well as I have worked on high profile media cases, complex mental health and competency cases. I have handled heavy and fast paced dockets. I participate on committees and groups that work with Public Defenders and groups that work to enhance the knowledge of the Criminal Law codes. Currently, I serve as the Course Director of the Future Indigent Defense Leader’s Steering Committee. I am also a member of the State Bar of Texas Legal Services to the Poor in Criminal Matters Committee. Lastly, I am one of four hosts who lead a weekly Criminal Defense Study Group with attorneys throughout the state of Texas that are currently reviewing and discussing each section of the Code of Criminal Procedure, as well as legislative updates and other pertinent timely criminal issues.

5. Why is this race important?

This race is important because the lives of the people who are affected in this court are important. It is essential that those who are accused, those seeking justice as crime victims, and the community know that they will be taken seriously and that they will be treated fairly by each of the 16 misdemeanor courts. Currently, Harris County Criminal Court No. 3 has the lowest number of active cases out of the other 16 misdemeanor courts. It is important that Harris County continues to make sure that cases, justice, and the community are swiftly served by the courts. Even though misdemeanor courts cannot result in prison, the cases that are heard in this court can still be life changing.

6. Why should people vote for you in March?

People should vote for me because I care. I care about the rights and lives of those accused of a crime, victims of crime, and the community. I am currently a Public Defender in Harris County which has afforded the opportunity to see first-hand what types of pretrial and sentencing methods work best to promote success and lower instances of recidivism. As someone who has also been a victim of a crime, I know that victims want their day in court and to be treated with importance by law enforcement. People should vote for me because I can relate to the people that are coming in the court, whether those are people who are charged with crimes, victims, and/or the community. I know that it is imperative that people who are accused of crimes know that the person who is presiding over their case is someone who doesn’t have a one-sided background or is unable to put themselves in their shoes. Judges must be able to be fair to all and follow the law. Based on my legal background, my experience as a Public Defender, and my past experience as a crime victim, I feel that I am best to see both sides in the Court and provide fair and just rulings for all of Harris County. Harris County has made tremendous strides in Criminal Justice Reform but we are not done yet. A vote for me, is a vote to push to be efficient and fair in a way that ultimately provides equality in reducing recidivism, enhancing victim solutions, reducing poor policing habits, and increasing success of the accused.

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