Judicial Q&A: Cheryl Harris Diggs

(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 Cheryl Harris Diggs and I am the Democratic nominee for Harris County Criminal Court at Law #12.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

This court is a county criminal court at law which hears Class A and B misdemeanors and appeals from the JP courts. For example, this court would hear theft cases, DWIs, assaults, possession of marijuana cases, resisting and evading arrest cases, criminal mischief and criminal trespass cases, burglary of a motor vehicle cases, illegal dumping cases, prostitution, animal cruelty and unlawful carrying of weapons cases.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

I want to change the perception that justice is “one size fits all”. I want people who appear in this court to feel they got a fair shake and that they were given the opportunity to be heard.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

I have been a criminal defense attorney for 12 years. I have handled criminal cases throughout Texas in state and federal court. Having handled cases in different courts throughout the state, I have seen practices that work and ones that do not. I am fluent in Spanish and about half my client base is Spanish speaking. I worked almost five years with the Harris County Pretrial Services Agency (Office of Court Services) as a bilingual pretrial officer. I am a December 1997 graduate of the University of Houston Law Center and a 1992 graduate of Georgetown University.

5. Why is this race important?

This race is important because misdemeanor offenses and misdemeanor offenders matter. Business owners do not want people trespassing on their property or stealing from them. Neighbors do not want to deal with people breaking into their vehicles and taking their personal items. Neighborhoods do not want to deal with people or businesses who illegally dump their waste. Most misdemeanor offenders are young. The lessons, if any, that they learn from being charged with a misdemeanor will determine if they will become a responsible adult or if they will “graduate” to felony court.

6. Why should people vote for you in November?

People should vote for me because I want to get back to the basics of common sense justice. I will implement afternoon dockets from time to time to accommodate peoples’ schedules. I will not rush offenders to complete their cases. I will ensure that mentally ill offenders receive special attention and work with their family members and/or caregivers to make sure they are not lost in the system. I will not allow undocumented offenders to be lost in the system or rushed through the system because they are undocumented. I will implement a trial docket for undocumented persons who have to take their cases to trial for immigration purposes. I will grant more pretrial release bonds to nonviolent offenders to alleviate some of the overcrowding in the Harris County jails.

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