(Note: I am running a series of Q&As for Democratic judicial candidates on the November ballot. I am running these responses in the order that I receive them from the candidates. These Q&As are primarily intended for candidates who were not in contested primaries. You can see those earlier Q&As, as well as all the ones in this series and all my recorded interviews for this cycle, on my 2010 Elections page.)
1. Who are you, and what are you running for?
I am Judy Dougherty, and I am running for the 310th Family Judicial District Court.
I have a BA in Political Science and Psychology, and a Masters in Social Work from the University of Texas in Austin, and a law degree from the University of Houston. I am a native Texan, and have lived in Harris County for over 34 years. I have a large extended family that is supportive and close, and I understand the importance of attempting to maintain family connections after a divorce or breakup yet I recognize the challenge this involves. My experiences as a social worker and mediator, and helping with a sister with special needs helped expand my compassion and perspective, and helped me appreciate that difficulties in life can provide opportunities for positive growth. As a mediator, negotiator, trial attorney, arbitrator, and collaborative lawyer, my ability to listen and discern underlying causes of disputes has been helpful in settling cases without court interference. I have been involved in many diverse community organizations – Hispanic (MECA, Amigos de Las Americas, Tejano Democrats), Asian (Asian Society), black (Healing of Racism), and others. I believe I have demonstrated a commitment to helping disputants find real solutions to their problems.
2. What kind of cases does this court hear?
This Court hears all matters related to families in dispute – divorce, custody, enforcement actions regarding child access issues, child support, and property, receiverships, modifications, terminations, adoptions, paternity, and protective orders including children’s protective orders.
3. Why are you running for this particular bench?
The party interviewed the potential candidates and was a qualified candidate for each of the 9 family law courts. A qualified Democrat was needed for each bench, and I was assigned this bench.
4. What are your qualifications for this job?
I have practiced Family law for over 30 years. I have continued to improve my communication skills through my training in my masters in social work and my counseling experience, teaching alternative dispute resolution in many settings: including 5 years as an adjunct professor at the University of Houston Law Center, trainer for the Dispute Resolution Center including being a founder of their Family Mediation Training, trainer and supervisor of Social Work graduate students, American Arbitration Association, AAWhite, other professional mediation groups, and work as an arbitrator, attorney, and mediator.
I have been a member of the American Arbitration Panel (AAA) for 20 years+, and continue to arbitrate for them in civil cases. My life, professional, and community experience reflects my sensitivity to diversity that I believe is important to being an effective and fair judge for all.
Our family is very close. I value diversity and have traveled extensively. Members of my family speak Spanish, French, Czech, German, Portuguese, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, and sign. My husband, Jim and I have been law partners for over 25 years, and married for over 41 years.
I value giving back to our community. Our son is an International Economist with OECD – Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development. Our daughter is a Population Environment Specialist with WWF-World Wildlife Fund, and our son-in-law is a Senior Scientist for Conservation International. I have two grandchildren.
See my website for further information: www.judydoughertyforjudge.com
5. Why is this race important?
The cases handled by this court are life changing events, and it is important to have a judge this has the professional and life experience to understand the long term significance and impact on the family of the decisions that are made by the court.
6. Why should people vote for you in November?
I have the experience to make well-reasoned decisions. I have the professional, community, and life experience that demonstrates respect for individuals and families with the diversity that exists in our community. I have the communication skills and relationships with individuals and groups to guide me in making meaningful changes to the court.
My personal and professional life have focused on trying to understand and appreciate our diverse community. My social work and legal experience will help me create an environment where litigants have the best opportunity to find alternatives to destructive battles, and families can find avenues to communicate and solve problems. I will listen and make decisions with compassion and respect during these life changing experiences. Family law matters can impact everyone’s life. It is important to have a say in who represents you on the bench.
I have been endorsed by the Harris County AFL-CIO, Mexican American Bar Association, Pasadena Bar Association, Houston GLBT Caucus, Afro-American Sheriff’s Deputy League, and in the primary the Houston Chronicle endorsed me.