(Note: I am running a series of Q&As for judicial candidates in contested Democratic primaries. There are a lot of judicial races on the ballot in Harris County this election, and so 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. I will also be conducting some in-person interviews of candidates who will be involved in contested primaries for non-judicial offices. Please see my 2010 Election page for a full list of Q&As and interviews.)
1. Who are you, and what are you running for?
My name is Javier Valenzuela. I am running for the position of Judge for Harris County Civil Court at Law #3. I am married to Annette Valenzuela and we have two beautiful children.
2. What kind of cases does this court hear?
Jurisdiction in the Harris County Civil Courts includes cases in which the matter in controversy exceeds $500 but does not exceed $100,000. Jurisdiction also extends as prescribed by the Texas Government Code, which includes the following: (1) appeals of civil cases from justice courts in Harris County; (2) exclusive jurisdiction in Harris County of eminent domain proceedings, both statutory and inverse, regardless of the amount in controversy; (3) suits to decide the issue of title to real or personal property; (4) suits to recover damages for slander or defamation of character; (5) suits for the enforcement of a lien on real property; (6) suits for forfeiture of a corporate charter; (7) suits for the trial of the right to property valued at $200 or more than has been levied on under a writ execution, sequestration, or attachment; (8) appeals of final rulings and decisions of the Texas Worker’s Compensation Commission; and (9) suits for the recovery of real property.
3. Why are you running for this particular bench?
I seek this particular bench because I believe this court could be run more effectively and efficiently. My goal is to create a more service oriented court with its purpose being to serve the legal community and the community at large. I believe a judge should provide an atmosphere of professionalism and respect and he or she should be the first to display those attributes. A judge should be humble and avail the court to the needs of the legal community for the prompt resolution of disputes. I believe it is incumbent on the judge to apply new approaches to managing the court’s docket, to see that cases get resolved informally or through trial, and waste as little time as possible; both the lawyers’ time, the litigants’ time and the jurors’ time. I will bring those qualities to the court.
The county civil courts have an upper jurisdictional limit of $100,000.00. Many cases in these courts are not valued up to this level. Nevertheless, whatever the value of the case, I will be conscious of the importance of every case to each individual involved. My focus will be on providing a positive professional environment that serves the citizens of Harris County while maintaining a high level of respect and dignity for those that come to my court.
4. What are your qualifications for this job?
I am running a strong campaign based on integrity and honesty, commitment and dedication. I have organized a winning team determined to make contact with voters and achieving success in March. I seek this bench because I am confident I will serve the citizens of Harris County effectively with the goal in mind to perform my judicial duties without bias or prejudice, to dispose of all judicial matters promptly and fairly, and to promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary. My focus will be on providing a positive professional environment that serves the citizens of Harris County and being a true public servant. I have experience as a trial lawyer, having tried numerous cases in various civil courts, and as a mediator, serving the public as a volunteer civil and family mediator for nearly 10 years. I am confident in my ability to handle procedural and evidentiary issues and in my ability to manage a court.
5. Why is this race important?
This race is important because it is an unprecedented time for the Democratic Party in Harris County. We truly have the opportunity to turn Harris County “blue”. It is also important to be mindful that despite the significant number of candidates vying for the Democratic nomination, the choices we make regarding each candidate should focus on individuals who are ready, willing and able, to serve as a judge for the betterment of the Harris County judiciary. We should also take care to choose candidates who will be conscious of upholding high standards of ethics and principles so as not to cast other Democratic candidates or fellow judges in a bad light. The focus should be on candidates who maintain strong positive campaigns that reflect a determination to win. Harris County residents should look for these qualities when choosing the right candidate to be their judge and this election provides the opportunity to put quality people on the bench.
6. Why should people vote for you in the primary?
When I was growing up my parents told me to stick to what I believed in. I believe in Democratic principles, including freedom, fairness, equality and justice for all. I always have and I always will.
From my parents I learned the importance of voting and I would go with them to see first hand the process. They taught me the value of having our voices heard. I continued that practice through the last election cycle and I am proud of my record, having voted for Democrats since becoming of age. When I received the endorsement from the Coalition of Harris County Democratic Elected Officials I was honored and humbled because I respect the officials on that list. Being endorsed by individuals for whom I have voted filled me with pride. The bottom line is, I haven’t wavered, I have remained a Democrat and I will carry the principles of fairness, equality and justice for all to the bench.
I seek this bench because I am confident I will serve the citizens of Harris County effectively. I will work hard and perform my judicial duties with the utmost integrity to resolve cases promptly. Also, I am confident in achieving success in March having organized a great campaign with people who are dedicated to victory and who are strategically planning for victory in November. For more information about my campaign please visit www.javierforjudge.com.