(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.
1. Who are you and what are you running for?
I am a native Houstonian who grew up in Houston’s Fifth Ward and graduated from MB Smiley High School in North Forest ISD. I am a mother of two and a fur-mom of three. Judge of the 280th Judicial District Court is the office is seek.
2. What kind of cases does this court hear?
This is a unique court in that it is the only court specifically designed to handle domestic violence cases in the state of Texas. Any and all cases in Harris County that may warrant the need for a protective order will be heard in this court. Both the District Attorney’s Office and private attorneys may use this court to protect or defend clients who either file or are accused of domestic violence. I envision this court becoming a trailblazer for the manner in which other counties handle domestic violence cases and issue protective orders.
3. Why are you running for this particular bench?
The reason I decided to run for this seat is because the law, under the Family Code, is not being followed. I know this because the rulings in this court have been overturned at least 26 times by the Court of Appeals due to similar improper judgments issued against Respondents. These duplicative errors lead me to believe that there is not only a misunderstanding of the applicable law, but also that there is a complete indifference for the rulings handed down from a higher court. Here is how it affects economically disadvantaged communities. The cases that were overturned were from Respondents who could afford an appellate attorney to obtain justice. Those Respondents who do not have thousands of dollars for that appellate attorney are stuck with the improper rulings that the Court of Appeals has already overturned for wealthier Respondents. That’s just not fair.
4. What are your qualifications for this job?
I am a 16 year practicing attorney in the areas of Family and Criminal Law. I have handled over 2500 cases from Orange to El Paso, Texas. As a solo practitioner, I know how to manage both employees, finances, and dockets. I am a master of multitasking and rarely get rattled when things don’t go as planned. I am the only person in this race who has represented both Applicants and Respondents, which gives me a unique perspective on the people who will stand before me. I know how to be tough and extend empathy without violating the Family Code.
Before I became an attorney, I was a classroom teacher. This background provided me with the ability to understand how to work with communities different from mine with honesty and respect. No matter how disrespectful a young person became, I knew how to keep “my cool”. This is probably the most important skill I possess for the type of court I am seeking.
I have previously run for judge in 2010 and am well versed with the expectations and sacrifices that it takes to be successful.
5. Why is this race important?
Domestic violence is prevalent in all communities, but the consequences being administered seem to affect economically fragile people the hardest. Specifically, I am running because someone has to stand up for children who are losing their ability to have both parents active in their lives. Currently, this court is issuing 18 year protective orders against offenders as it pertains to them seeing their children. While it’s important to be “tough on crime”, there must also be a balance between being tough and being cruel towards the youngest victims of domestic violence. Children need both their parents, even if they only see the offending parent under a supervised setting.
In addition, there is a problem getting signed orders to the correct law enforcement agencies in a timely manner. I will push for legislation and reform that will designate a bailiff to work solely on delivering protective orders to law enforcement agencies by the end of the business day on which they have been signed.
6. Why should people vote for you in March?
The people of Harris County should entrust me with their vote because I am fair, balanced, and competent. I have the judicial temperament to speak to both applicants and respondents in a respectful manner without becoming demeaning or condescending. I am the only person in the race who has handled cases for both applicants and respondents, so I understand how to be unbiased and to see the story from both sides. I also have the foresight to understand that a protective order means nothing unless it gets to the proper law enforcement agencies in a timely manner. Overall, Harris County will be a safer place to live with the judicial temperament, wisdom, and legislative reform I hope to bring to the bench.