(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 Wally Kronzer. I am a candidate for Justice, 14th Court of Appeals, Place 5.
2. What kind of cases does this court hear?
This court of appeals is one of the intermediate courts of appeals in Texas that reviews appeals in all types of civil and criminal cases, except for Capital Murder cases (which go directly to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals).
3. Why are you running for this particular bench?
I know the law, and I know court of appeals practices. I also know how court systems operate differently in different counties. The way things are done in the Harris County legal community are not the way things are done in other counties such as Galveston or Brazoria County. I understand how courts of appeals decision affect both sides of the civil docket as I handle cases from all sides of the civil docket. I understand how the law effects employers and in employees as I routinely dealt with both before attending law school. I understand how criminal decision affect individuals and families from my pro bono work.
The courts of appeals need diversity of thought and background. For too long too many justices on the Houston area courts of appeals arguably possessed interchangeable legal backgrounds. The courts of appeals have to follow the law, but at times following the law has more than one option. I want to be a voice on the court of appeals asking, “Why is it that we keep following only the one option when the law allows another option?”
That leaves one question – why the 14th Court of Appeals for my first run at office. It is a two-fold answer. The 1967 the Texas Legislature created that court of appeals. Numerous former legislatures reminded me over the years that my father was heavily involved in the lobbying efforts to create that court of appeals as well as refining the other existing courts of appeals. Another reason is former Chief Justice Curtis Brown. Justice Brown and my father were very close friends dating back to their law school days. They were law partners when he took the 14th Court of Appeals bench. Justice Brown swore me in as an attorney after I passed the bar examination. Frankly, there is a certain logic and symmetry to my serving on the 14th Court of Appeals.
4. What are you qualifications for this job?
Like everyone running for these courts of appeals races, I did some terrific things while in law school. I am unique in that I did it in my early thirties going to school full-time, while working, with a family that included two pre-school children. While most candidates running for the court of appeals are primarily Houston lawyers, most of my court of appeals cases come from outside Harris County. I understand why the non Harris County judges and lawyers are uncomfortable with the local courts of appeals tendency to focus on Harris County cases. I also understand the relationship between state and federal law as I handle both state and federal appeals. I know what its like to stand before the Texas Supreme Court. I also know what it is like to stand before the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
I also have extensive court of appeals writing experience. Texas appellate courts are being told to tighten their budgets. The Texas Legislature is facing significant budget issues. Judicial candidates do not talk about this even though they should because the courts of appeals are facing significant funding issues, including staffing cuts, to meet budgetary restrictions. I look forward to having staff attorneys to assist me in drafting opinions, but I am well qualified to handle everything myself if the court of appeals must reduce its current staffing levels.
5. Why is this race important?
The Texas courts of appeals not only decide significant issues effecting individuals and business entities, but in approximately 85% of cases the courts of appeals are the final word on the matter.
6. Why should people vote for you in November?
It will add an experienced court of appeals mind who will do his best to prevent the court from putting a round peg in a square hole and say, “It fits.”