Judicial Q&A: Shawn Thierry

(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?

My name is Shawn Nicole Thierry. I was born in Houston and have lived in the Westbury and Northfield areas of town for most of my life. I am a graduate of Westbury High School, and Howard University in Washington, D.C. I obtained my law degree from the Thurgood Marshall School Of Law in Houston, Texas in 1996. I have been a licensed, practicing attorney for nearly fourteen years, while remaining active in the community through volunteering and charitable works. I am a member of Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church. I am seeking the position of Judge of the 157th Civil District Court and am running to bring “balanced justice” back to the bench and all those seeking legal relief.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

The types of cases which come before this court are wide-ranging, and include, but are not limited to, matters such as: contractual disputes, pharmaceutical and general products liability, toxic tort, premises liability, medical malpractice, employment and labor issues, real estate and property matters, insurance coverage cases, first amendment cases involving defamation and libel actions, wrongful death, and a high volume of other personal injury cases. District Courts are trial courts of general jurisdiction in law and equity. The district courts generally have exclusive jurisdiction in civil cases where the amount in controversy is $100,000 or greater and also have concurrent jurisdiction with the statutory county courts in cases where the amount in controversy is greater than $500.00 but is less than $100,000. This court may also handle multi-district litigation (MDL) for cases such as those involving mass tort claims and/or securities litigation. The MDL court is assigned by a judiciary panel, which is comprised of appellant court justices. As evidenced by this abbreviated list, the civil district court hears matters that could potentially affect most any individual and/or business.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

This particular judicial bench has not been subject to a contested election for many years. Specifically, in 2003, the incumbent judge obtained his position through the appointment of Governor Rick Perry to complete the term of yet another departing judge, who was also appointed to this same bench in 2001. Now, in 2010, the citizens will finally have an opportunity to participate in the democratic process by electing the next Judge of the 157th Civil District Court. I am running for this bench for this reason, and more importantly, because I believe that it is time for a change in leadership and a fresh perspective. I intend to preside with intelligence, an even judicial temperament, and efficiently.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

My qualifications include diverse legal and life experience. For over thirteen years, I have protected and championed the legal rights of individual citizens, as well as represented and defended small businesses and large corporations. I have successfully handled cases varying from commercial disputes, personal injury, product defects, deceptive trade practices and other civil litigation matters. My legal career has also afforded me the honor of clerking for the Houston Court of Appeals First District. I also worked as a civil litigator for two renowned Texas commercial litigation firms. I gained invaluable experience at these respected firms. I later opened my own successful law practice where I represented individual clients and consumers in precisely the types of cases that will come before the 157th Civil District Court. I have an extensive background in civil procedure, rules of evidence, drafting and arguing trial motions, oral hearings, settlement of complex claims and cases, and other trial related matters. As a result, I have the broad experience necessary to view all cases and litigants objectively.

In believe our life experiences also shape our character in many ways. Growing up, I was typically one of a few African-American children in my class, and/or or social activities such as girl scouts, camp, etc. While some would think this was difficult, it actually afforded me the opportunity to form deep friendships with a variety of people from different backgrounds. Throughout my life, both personally and professionally, I have always been the type of person that helped my peers to keep an open mind on issues and express differences of opinions by listening, with patience and respectful dialogue. I believe this ability will also serve me well on the bench as many times the judge must use her or his influence to help opposing attorneys resolve certain matters. My judicial philosophy mirrors my life philosophy, which is, all people should be treated equally and without bias to religion, gender, race, financial status, sexual orientation, and/or age. Therefore, I believe I am uniquely qualified to not only understand the complexities and intricacies of the law, but also to balance and apply it to the parties coming before me.

5. Why is this race important?

All of the races are significant because judges have broad powers and discretion. As stated above, this is a unique opportunity for the people of Harris County to actually choose the next Judge of the 157th Civil District Court, versus the choice being made for them, as in the past. Additionally, it has been shown that most people will either seek legal redress in a civil court, or know someone who will, at some point. Thus, it is very important that the voters have confidence in the judicial system and the electoral process. I want all voices to be heard. This means that irrespective of political affiliation, age, sex, race or gender, everyone will have their “day in Court”, should I have the honor of being the next Judge of the 157th Civil District Court.

6. Why should people vote for you in November?

I will work very hard once elected to ensure that cases are heard timely, ruled upon fairly, so that justice is delivered in each case. I have the qualifications and character needed for this important and honorable job. I will absolutely follow the rule of law and apply it with intelligence, insight and integrity. I have been endorsed from a myriad of diverse organizations, such as The Houston Chronicle, The Pasadena Bar Association, The Jewish Herald Voice, and many others. My commitment to the voters is to bring balance back to the bench so that both sides are heard and equal access to the Court will be available to all those seeking resolution. For all of the reasons previously stated herein, I hope to earn the confidence of all those voting in this important general election. I would be honored and proud to serve as your next Judge of the 157th Civil District Court. Please feel free to visit my website: ShawnThierry4Judge.com to learn more about me and the campaign. Thank you for your time and attention to this specific race, and remember; elections matter!

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