Judicial Q&A: Lema Barazi

(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.

Lema Barazi

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

My name is Lema “May” Barazi and I am running for the 189th District Court in Harris County, Texas.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

This is a civil district court that hears civil matters in which the amount in controversy is $200 or more.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

Throughout my legal practice, I have always advocated for fairness and impartial justice in the courtroom. I am running for the 189th District Court because I believe my legal and personal experiences have equipped me to serve the residents of Harris County impartially, yet compassionately.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

In addition to my degrees and extensive legal experience representing individuals and businesses in various different areas of law, I also have a unique skill set that allows me to bring diverse perspectives to the bench.

BA, English/Political Science, The University of Houston Honors College, 2003
JD, The University of Houston Law Center, 2006
MBA, Texas Tech University, 2014

I have been a trial attorney for 15 years. I have served as a felony prosecutor, plaintiff’s attorney, and defense counsel in both state and federal courts throughout my career.

Specifically, I have practiced in the following areas over the course of the last 15 years:
1. Criminal prosecution;
2. Criminal defense;
3. Family law;
4. Immigration law;
5. Civil rights litigation;
6. Commercial litigation as a plaintiff’s attorney;
7. Commercial litigation as defense counsel;
8. Personal injury litigation as a plaintiff’s attorney;
9. Personal injury litigation as defense counsel;
10. Health law litigation as a plaintiff’s attorney;
11. Health law litigation as defense counsel;
12. Intellectual Property litigation as a plaintiff’s attorney;
13. Intellectual Property litigation as defense counsel;
14. Real Estate litigation as a plaintiff’s attorney;
15. Real Estate litigation as defense counsel;
16. Mass torts as a plaintiff’s attorney;
17. Pharmaceutical litigation as a plaintiff’s attorney;
18. Medical Device litigation as a plaintiff’s attorney;
19. Civil appellate law.

I have native, professional proficiency in speaking, reading, and writing Arabic. I am proficient in multiple dialects and can converse with Arabic speakers across numerous countries spanning the Asian and African continents.

I also have a working knowledge of Spanish.

An additional skill set I have is that I am an educator. I have served as an Adjunct Professor teaching Business Law and Constitutional Law to university students for the past four years.

5. Why is this race important?
This race is important because I firmly believe that the lower the race is on the ballot, the closer the race is to our doors. We have all been impacted by the judicial system or will be impacted at some point in our lives and it is important to elect a judge that is qualified, representative, and a staunch advocate for fairness and impartiality.

6. Why should people vote for you in March?

People should vote for me because I am a qualified attorney, a compassionate educator, and a wife and mother who is in tune with the concerns of Harris County voters. A vote for me is a vote for fairness, equality, and justice.

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One Response to Judicial Q&A: Lema Barazi

  1. Kibitzer Curiae says:

    Strengths for race: Very good-looking condidate, female, nice name that could be mistaken for Spanish or otherwise Mediterranean (things that matter to low-info voters)

    Prof. qualifications: Solid civil litigation credentials. That said, the list of case types is redundant, esp. since there is no info on which types of cases preponderated. Nor does she explain why there are attorneys on the plaintiff’s side, but counsels on the other. Why not just say that she has handled cases for plaintiffs as well as defendants, and has represented individual as well as corporations?

    Criminal prosecution experience is not really relevant here because the Civil Division courts in Harris County don’t hear criminal cases (unlike district courts in other Texas counties that have a mixed caseload).

    Fluency in Arabic is nice, but irrelevant for this job for at least two reasons: Small number of Arabic speakers (relative to total population of parties and witnesses) and most speak English anyhow. The Arabic-only speaker will require a certified translator in any event just as with dozens of other languages.

    Spanish is a different story, but a judge’s “working knowledge” is no benefit because a low level of proficiency will not allow the judge to get anything more out of the verbal testimony over what comes through in the English translation that will be required for the court reporter’s record (and for the jury, if applicable).

    On the other hand, a judge who is a native speaker of Spanish, or is bi-lingual, will be better qualified in Harris County courts than a monolingual Anglo judge (for a subset of the caseload) because they will understand the Spanish-speaking witness without the need for a translation. This will cut down on errors and misunderstanding, and also provides for a check on the quality of the interpretation because the judge can follow up for clarification upon spotting a problem, whether on the part of the witness (not clearly answering a question) or on the part of the interpreter not rendering the foreign-language verbal production accurately in English.


    La madre (showing up instead of ther daughter): “Es que no pudo venir a la corte porque esta embarazada.”

    The limited-proficiency judge: “Being embarrassed does not constitute a valid basis for a continuance under the rules.”

    There will be pro se parties who only speak Spanish or only limited English, and a judge who is fluent in both will be better able to deal with them outside the witness-testimony context, though much of that can be usually be done through Spanish-capable clerical staff. It’s more of an issue in the family courts, though and lower courts that hear lots of eviction and debt collection cases and cases in which folks cannot afford an attorney.

    Local international roots and UH grad arguably also a plus.

    Re: A judicial candidate being “a staunch advocate for fairness and impartiality.”

    All judges are sworn to uphold the rule of law and be impartial, so this is trite. It should go without saying. Nor are judges supposed to be advocates. Adovcating is what attorneys do before the bench, and before they take the bench. Judging is quite a different role and would-be judges should inspire confidence that they know the difference.

    Same for being an advocate for Harris County *voters*. Judges don’t just hear cases involving voters, and must administer the law impartially, and not just deliver justice for voters.

    Major categories of litigants who are not voters are children (minors), noncitizens, enfranchised persons who do not vote and may not even be registered, corporations and other business entitites, nonprofits, and various categories of governmental entities. Nor are the necessarily local residents.

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