Judicial Q&A: Charles Spain

(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?

I am Charles Spain, and I am running as a Democrat for the 270th Civil District Court of Harris County. I am a native Houstonian and graduate of Sharpstown High School. After graduating from Rice University, I began my career in public service, working as a district Scout executive for the Boy Scouts of America for three years. After graduating from Baylor Law School, I began my service to the Texas judiciary, clerking for the Texas Supreme Court.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

The 270th District Court is a civil court. Its docket includes everything but criminal, family, juvenile, and probate cases.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

I have committed my life to public service, starting right after college with my work as a Scouting professional. I have continued to serve Texas and my profession throughout my career as a lawyer: serving as an adjunct professor at the University of Houston Law Center; making important contributions in the Texas Supreme Court’s revision of the procedural rules in civil cases; and drafting legislation and working successfully to get it passed. Most significantly, I have served the Texas judiciary as a staff attorney for twenty years. The time has now come for me to take the experience that I have gained from my service and put it to use as judge of the 270th District Court.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

I have served the Texas judiciary as a staff attorney for twenty years, reviewing trial records and drafting over 800 opinions for the appellate courts. The types of cases I have worked on include virtually every kind of legal issue that can be raised in state court. This experience has given me a deep understanding of the judicial process, which is further demonstrated by the fact that I have been board certified in Civil Appellate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization since 1993. My background in the appellate judiciary will be invaluable in efficiently focusing trial litigation on the proper legal issues.

5. Why is this race important?

The right to trial by jury is vanishing. We need trial judges who believe in trying cases on the merits to a jury whenever possible.

The Harris County civil district courts handle some of the most sophisticated and complex litigation in the United States. It is critical that the judge of the 270th have the intellectual ability to get the job done in these challenging cases. If not, the entire trial may be reversed on appeal, resulting in an incredible waste of the public’s money, the jury’s time, and the litigants’ own resources. I have twenty years’ experience working on these complex cases.

6. Why should people vote for you in the primary?

I am the only candidate running for the 270th Civil District Court with actual experience working in the judiciary. My experience has not only allowed me to develop the skills necessary to handle the complex cases that come before the courts, but it has also given me the opportunity to develop the temperament necessary to be a good judge. I am committed to listening to everyone who comes before the court. There are winners and losers in our adversarial system of justice, but the judge must ensure that everyone has a fair opportunity to present his or her case on the merits, whenever possible. It is important to move the court’s docket, but expediency should never be the driving force behind the justice system. If people do not receive due process and respect, then they will not respect our system of government.

I have also reached the point in my life where I have acquired some measure of wisdom and empathy. I have an autistic son and a father who has Alzheimer’s disease. While I will rule based on the law, I believe a basic understanding of, and sense of compassion for, people is a vital skill for anyone serving as a judge.

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One Response to Judicial Q&A: Charles Spain

  1. Burt Levine says:

    I saw Charles Spain yard signs in the middle of esplanades @ intersections in Fort Bend!

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