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Judicial Q&A: Ursula Hall

(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 Ursula A. Hall. I am known as a rigorous worker, an extraordinarily gifted advocate, a compassionate person and a paragon of patience as a lawyer and a sitting municipal judge. I am an excellent mind, a lover of learning, and a generous spirit. I am a graduate of local, public magnet schools, Wellesley College and South Texas College of Law. I am an optimist, a realist and a dedicated civil servant. And, I am a candidate for state judicial office. I am running for Judge of the 189th Civil District Court.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

This court hears all civil cases, except family and probate cases, ranging in content from simple to complex. (The court does not hear criminal cases). The court hears commercial, personal injury, death and other disputes, which include claims about accounts, employment, deceptive trade practices, product liability, workers compensation, defective products and more.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

This particular bench is among those most in need of change and diversity in its judicial leadership. As a sitting municipal judge, I bring a rich cultural heritage, a record of public service, a strong belief in our justice system, Spanish language skills and a deep care and concern for fairness, respectful treatment of others and intellectual integrity.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

Integrity. Legal knowledge and ability. Professional experience. Judicial temperament. Diligence. Good physical and mental health. Financial responsibility and public service. These qualities are used by The Judicial Administration Division Lawyers’ Conference of the American Bar Association to assess the qualifications of candidates for State Judicial Office:
I am qualified by my merit in each of these recommended areas. I have demonstrated integrity unassailable integrity. My legal knowledge and ability has been established by over thirteen years of practice in state and federal, trial and appellate courts. I have direct, specifically relevant professional experience as a sitting judge. My judicial temperament is outstanding (as discussed above). I am diligent beyond measure, as my law school and legal career demonstrate. I have no mental or physical impairments. I labor under no financial pressures that threaten my independence and impartiality. And I have been serving the public, in a variety of ways, since I was nine years old when I registered my first voter on behalf of a local union hall.

5. Why is this race important?

Every judicial race is extremely important. Every judge has a profound, far-reaching, often immeasurable, impact on society — not just the lives of those who appear in court, but also those whose lives are changed by case law developments.

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

People should vote for me in the primary because I have judicial experience, intellectual integrity and demonstrated servant-leadership. I have adjudicated thousands of cases, as a judge, and presided over trials, using the exact same rules of evidence by which the 189th Civil District Court is governed and state-level rules of procedure. During my time on the bench, I have earned a good reputation among citizens who have appeared before me and court staff for my exceptional judicial demeanor, which includes common sense, compassion, decisiveness, firmness, humility, open-mindedness, patience, tact and understanding.
Intellectual integrity includes the virtues of honesty, courage, fairness, sensitivity, perceptiveness and insightfulness, intellectual humility, perseverance, adaptability and communicativeness. Over the last five years, in my work as a judge, I have learned to strike a balance between decisiveness and deliberation, impartiality and openness to the views of others. Regularly, I refuse to suppress counter-arguments and consistently acknowledge help.

And I am a servant leader who never loses sight of the reality that no staff, courtroom or bench will ever be “mine”. Rather, each always has and always will belong to and work for the public. I recognize that good court administration is a collective exercise, requiring the talents of bailiffs, clerks, administrators and many others.

For additional reasons one should vote for me, and additional information, please go to www.judgeursulahall.com.

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2 Comments

  1. Joel Mallory says:

    I thought I would share an email that I sent in response to Ms. Falkenberg’s article entitled “enigmatic endorsement.” Surprisingly, she responded to me.

    Ms. Falkenberg,

    I read your article regarding Ursuala Hall’s candidacy. I am a practicing attorney. I believe the current incumbent of the 189th District Court is far more enigmatic. A few years ago, I had a legal matter before Judge Burke to enjoin Washington Mutual from wrongfully foreclosing on my house. First, I encountered difficulties in getting him to rule on discovery relating to Washington Mutual’s basis for the acceleration and foreclosure. On the eve of trial, he canceled the trial to allow Washington Mutual to allow another attorney to take over for Washington Mutual. (This attorney Patricia Kerrigan would later be appointed to the Court across the hall.).

    During a subsequent hearing, Jduge Burke threaten to throw me in jail because I requested a court reporter to transcribe the proceedings (after witnessing a “one on one” dialogue between the Court and Opposing Counsel regarding the motions. On the record, he called me a “deadbeat” and “un-American” and frankly expressed he did not care if I lost my house or not. You can only imagine how the remainder of the hearing was conducted, including his sacastic rulings on my motions.

    Ms. Hall mentioned she was qualified because of her “demeanor.” Seemingly, that term went over your head as your article was devoted to deriding her candidancy. My colleagues and I, as similarly situated as Ms. Hall, had to endure practicing before judges of a certain political persuasion over the past 10-15 years. Ironically, we have resolved matters by staying away from the Courts as much as possible. Her use of the term “demeanor” was poignant for me.

    I am not writing this to express any endorsement for the 189th District Court. I hope you will not have to be placed in the unfortunate position of having to litigate a claim in the Harris County Courts. If so, you should pray that somehow like Ms. Hall is your judge.

    Sincerely,

    Joel Mallory

  2. […] Recent Q&A interviews completed by Judge Ursula Hall are now online and available for review. Read the Q&A from the Houston Chronicle’s Kuff’s World Blog. Read the Q&A from the Off the Kuff Blog. […]