Judicial Q&A: Paul Calzada

(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.

Paul Calzada

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

I am Paul Antonio Calzada, and I am a Democrat asking to be elected judge of the 312th District Court, a civil court of special jurisdiction over family law cases for Harris County, Texas. I have a degree in psychology from the University of Texas and a law degree from the University of Houston Law Center. I graduated from law school in May of 2003 and received my law license in June of 2003. I was qualified to take the Texas Bar Exam while still a law student based on my academic record. I grew up in a single-parent household of modest means in the tiny town of Huffman, which is near Lake Houston. I was the first person in my family to attend college.

I am a native Houstonian and Spanish speaker with over 18 years of family law experience. Before law school, I worked as a Family Crisis Intervention Specialist for Tarrant County MHMR. After law school, I worked as an attorney at Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse (AVDA), a non-profit, pro bono law firm representing people in family court. After AVDA, I continued to practice primarily family law. During the first year of the former president’s term in office, I also worked for an immigration law firm representing asylum applicants and Special Immigrant Juveniles. I believed the administration’s immigration policies were immoral and damaging to families, and I needed to do something to help. I have devoted my professional career to helping families in crisis, and I hope to continue to do so as the judge of the 312th.

I live in Houston with my wife of 23 years, Maria Calzada, a child of immigrants and a first-generation American. We have two children who are also native Houstonians, and we raised them here. Our son and daughter have attended HISD schools their entire academic careers. Our son is openly gay and the president of his high school’s GSA club. He recently scored a perfect 1600 on his SAT, and we are very proud and excited to see where he decides to attend college. Our daughter is a talented digital artist and a member of her middle school’s Mariachi Club. My wife, an Infectious Disease Physician Assistant, is a former Democratic Precinct Chair and was recently recognized as a Volunteer of the Year for Pride Houston. She is also an executive board member of our son’s high school PTO and a leader of our daughter’s Girl Scout Troop. I consider my family my most tremendous success. They inspired me to run for public service. I am running for them and our community.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

The 312th is a state civil district court with specialized jurisdiction over family law matters in Harris County. Common family law cases include divorce, suits affecting the parent-child relationship, modification of family law orders, enforcement of family law orders, paternity determinations, termination of parental rights, adoptions, name changes, registration of foreign family law orders, habeas corpus/writs of attachment, CPS cases, and protective orders.

I have represented clients in all of these types of cases.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

Family law judges should be family law attorneys. I am running because we need a judge dedicated to helping families. I have professional experience with families in acute crisis. I spent part of my legal career devoted to domestic violence victims, immigrants, and I have always represented clients from underserved communities. In particular, I have represented many Spanish-speaking, low-income, and undocumented clients. As a result, I have more experience helping families in crisis than any other candidate in this race.

I am not running for this particular bench because of personal animus towards the incumbent judge. Nor am I running for this bench based on a single case or interaction with the incumbent judge. I am not running against anyone. I am running for the people of Harris County.

I believe the people of Harris County deserve judges who meet the high standards traditionally expected of our courts. These standards include judicial temperament, integrity, and real family law experience. These are not aspirations. Aspiration is something you hope to achieve. These are obligations. Ask my colleagues about me, and you will find that I am an honest, knowledgeable, and caring advocate for my clients and their family. I will bring a respectful demeanor, judicial temperament, legal acumen, and professionalism to the 312th.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

I have practiced family law for over 18 years, entirely based in Harris County. I am a member of the Texas Bar College and the Houston Bar Association, including the family law section and diversity committees. I am a committee member for the recently revived Houston Bar Association Bar Bench Conference in Probate and Family Law. I have trial and appeals experience in family law. I have trauma-informed care and implicit bias training.

I have both non-legal and legal experience helping families in need. I am a devoted father and husband who knows the importance of family. I know the challenges that life presents to us, and I have personal experience with many of the challenges faced by our communities.

According to the Harris County District Clerk records, from 2000 to now, I have represented 236 family law clients as the attorney of record. The incumbent judge has represented 53 family law clients in the same timeframe. Since 2000, I have represented more Harris County family law clients than any other candidate in this race.

5. Why is this race important?

Family law courts are courts of equity. That means that the judge has tremendous authority to make orders for the just and right division of property and in the best interest of children. The people of Harris Court deserve a judge who has the overall experience to make the best orders possible. This race is important because we have an opportunity to elect a judge who has significant family law experience, relevant non-legal experience, and personal experience to make judgments that lift all parties before the court. Family law is not a “zero-sum” arena. We need a judge who doesn’t see the cases as “win or lose.” We need a judge who can objectively review the facts, set aside their personal feelings towards the attorneys and parties, and craft a nuanced and contemplative order for the people seeking justice.

Family law judges should dissolve tension and discord. Not cause or escalate it. We need a judge who will be respectful to everyone before the court and a judge who will react to disrespect calmly and professionally. This race is important because we need a judge who will solve problems, not cause or exacerbate them.

6. Why should people vote for you in March?

I will be a family court judge that will make the residents of Harris County proud. I have the necessary family law experience and legal knowledge for the bench. But, I also have non-legal and personal experience to make judgments that are just, right, and in the best interest of every person before the court. I am from here and raised my family here. I have dedicated my career to helping families. I have practiced in every family law court in Harris County, and I have been before every family court judge since 2003. I know what a judge can do for the families before them. We deserve a judge that will exercise the profound responsibility of the court to help families. I will be that judge.

Related Posts:

This entry was posted in Election 2022 and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.