Judicial Q&A: Erika Ramirez

(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.

Erika Ramirez

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

My name is Erika Ramirez, and I am running to be Judge of Harris County Criminal Court at Law No. 8.

Born and raised in Houston, I was taught at a young age the importance of justice and fairness. My family is from Laredo, Texas. As a teenager, my Dad was diagnosed with Hansen’s disease (commonly known as leprosy). At that time, persons with Hansen’s were removed from society and confined, based on unfounded and unfair stereotypes and prejudices associated with the illness. As a result, my Dad was forcibly sent to the National Leprosarium in Carville, Louisiana, where he lived for several years. My Mom, his high school sweetheart, stuck by his side while he lived in Louisiana. After the unjust practice of confining persons with Hansen’s ended, my parents moved to Houston. My parents harnessed their experiences into a commitment to serve other people who found themselves needing help. They both finished their degrees, became licensed social workers, and have had long careers serving veterans, persons with mental health issues, and children. Knowing my parents’ story and growing up around them, I have always had a deep appreciation for fairness and justice, as well as the urge to speak or act when I think someone is being treated unfairly – especially those who cannot speak for themselves.

After graduating from Bellaire High School, I received a degree in Public Relations from the University of Texas- Austin. I began my career as a teacher in a small rural town in Spain. When I returned to the Texas, I worked as a Caseworker Assistant with survivors of domestic violence. It was there that I was inspired to return to law school. I graduated from South Texas College of Law-Houston and become the first attorney in my family.

I have focused my legal career on criminal law, working as an Assistant District Attorney in Harris County.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

Harris County Criminal Court at Law No. 8 is one of the sixteen misdemeanor courts that covers the entire county. Class A and B misdemeanors are heard in the court. Class A misdemeanors are punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine up to $4,000. Class B misdemeanors are punishable by up to 180 days in jail, and/or a fine up to $2,000. Some of the common types of criminal cases that appear in the court are Theft, Assaults, Driving While Intoxicated, and Criminal Mischief. These cases are important because misdemeanor courts can provide an opportunity for a great impact on the trajectory of a person’s life and our community’s collective well-being.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

Through my experiences, including my time as a case worker assistant and prosecutor, I understand the serious ramifications criminal proceedings can have on all persons involved. I greatly respect the importance of a fair and impartial process. I also understand the interconnected nature of our courts and the communities they serve. I believe that every person who enters the courtroom should be allowed to have their voice heard and to avail themselves of every and all rights permitted by our laws.

I am running for Judge of Harris County Criminal Court at Law No. 8 because I believe that the people of Harris County deserve a Judge who is respectful of the parties and the legal process, fair in applying the law, and involved in our community.

I am also running in the hope of attaining increased diversity in or judicial system.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

I have a diverse background of experiences that I believe qualify me for this position and allow me to serve Harris County as a respectful, fair, and involved Judge.
I currently work as an Assistant District Attorney in the Financial Crimes Division, where I assist victims of identify theft. In my time as a prosecutor, I have tried a multitude of criminal cases, from Class-C traffic tickets, Sex Assault of a Child, and Capital Murder. During this time, I have served Harris County by thoroughly evaluating every case and taking steps to protect the rights of the persons accused, victims, and the community. I have worked in the Trial Bureau (misdemeanor and felony cases), Juvenile Division, Domestic Violence Division, and Financial Crimes Division. I have served as a Misdemeanor Court Chief, where I supervised and trained junior attorneys. As a result, I am familiar and well-versed with the process and procedures in the County Criminal Courts at Law.

Before law school law school, I worked as a caseworker assistant at the Harris County District Attorney’s Office with the Domestic Violence Division. There, I assisted survivors by documenting their injuries and attending protective order court proceedings.

During law school, I interned with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, both in the misdemeanor and felony division; the Harris County Attorney’s Office with the Litigation Division, which focused on public nuisance suits (often massage parlors that engaged in human trafficking); the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) Division, which represented DFPS cases in the Juvenile Justice courts; and served as a guardian ad litem with Child Advocates, an organization that assists children who are in DFPS custody. My work earned me a Pro Bono College Award at South Texas College of Law two years in a row.

While in College at the University of Texas- Austin, I interned in the 310th Family Court with Judge Lisa Millard. I also worked at Baylor College of Medicine- Center for Educational Outreach. The program assisted high school students that live in the South Texas Rio Grande Valley to attend college and medical school so that they can return to serve their communities, which, unfortunately, are underserved communities.

5. Why is this race important?

Our County Criminal Courts at Law are of great importance to our community. Generally, misdemeanor cases provide an opportunity for substantial impact on the trajectory of a person’s life. It benefits our community when courts can take proactive steps to mitigate repeated entry into the criminal justice system. The important issues these courts address and serve highlight the need for a respectful, fair, and involved jurist.

6. Why should people vote for you in March?

I believe that I am the most qualified candidate for this position, and my goal is to work hard for our community. If elected, I will serve Harris County by assuring a fair, accessible, and just process for all persons who enter the courtroom. I will also remain involved and visible within our community. Early voting starts on Valentine’s Day, February 14th , through February 25th . Election day is March 1, 2022.

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3 Responses to Judicial Q&A: Erika Ramirez

  1. Jason Hochman says:

    Do you see parallels between the treatment of people with Hansen’s Disease (leprosy) and the treatment of people with Covid19? specifically, the isolation of both groups, and also the blaming of people who have covid for not getting vaccinated, not wearing enough masks, not moving into the wilderness, etc?

    What are your views of capital punishment?

  2. C.L. says:

    Dr. Hochman:

    “Leprosy is contagious but is considered to be only mildly contagious. However, acquisition of the disease usually occurs after long-term (months to years) contact with an untreated individual with the disease. It is passed from person to person via droplets from the nose and mouth during close and frequent contact with an untreated individual with leprosy.” “Fortunately, current multidrug therapy (MDT) has reduced leprosy so effectively that only a few countries still have individuals with this disease. Currently, the disease is rarely seen in the United States.”

    So yeah, little to no parallel between the two…save for them both being contagious.

  3. Jason Hochman says:

    Thanks for your reply, I wasn’t asking you to compare the contagiousness of the illness, but rather the deranged response to both.

    Also, you didn’t mention your position on capital punishment.

Comments are closed.