(Note: As I have done in past elections, I am running a series of Q&As for Democratic judicial candidates on the November ballot. This is intended to help introduce the candidates and their experiences to those who plan to vote. I am running these responses in the order that I receive them from the candidates.)
1. Who are you and what are you running for?
My name is Jason Luong, and I am running to be the Judge of Harris County Criminal Court 13. I come from a family of civil servants who value public service. My family came here from Vietnam after the fall of Saigon in 1975. My father took a job with the City of Houston where he worked as accountant for over 20 years. My mother has worked as a civilian employee for the Houston Police Department for over 20 years.
2. What kind of cases does this court hear?
This court handles criminal cases, namely, Class B misdemeanors, where the range of punishment is up to 6 months in jail, and Class A misdemeanors, where the range of punishment includes up to a year in jail. The most common misdemeanors that this court handles are DWIs, assaults charges, theft cases, possession of marijuana and domestic violence cases.
3. Why are you running for this particular bench?
I am running because I want to bring change to our Harris County criminal courts. Our courts need to be more responsive to the people they are intended to serve. Currently, our courts are run inefficiently, and cases often take too long to get resolved. This hurts both the person accused of a crime and to the victims.
4. What are your qualifications for this job?
I have over 14 years of legal experience with strong Texas roots. I am a graduate of Rice University and the University of Texas School of Law, with honors. I started my legal career as a law clerk to a U.S. District Court Judge, where we handled one of the largest criminal dockets in the country. I am also a former Harris County Assistant District Attorney, where I was the chief prosecutor for 2 different County Criminal Courts. As a prosecutor, I prosecuted thousands of cases on behalf of Harris County residents, including one of the only prosecutions of members of Aryan Brotherhood under Texas’s Hate Crime Statute. Currently I have my own criminal defense practice where I handle both court-appointed and retained cases. I have tried over 40 cases to a jury verdict. I am passionate about bringing my experience to serve the people of Harris County.
5. Why is this race important?
This race is important because our criminal courts are important. Harris County is one of the most important criminal jurisdictions in the country. And this court handles the cases—DWI’s, domestic violence cases, thefts, animal cruelty—that most directly affect the lives of ordinary Harris County residents. These crimes and the courts have handle them have direct, severe and long term consequences on the people lives—both on the lives of the victims and the people charged.
This race is also important it is a chance for the citizens of Harris County to bring meaningful change in our courts. Right now, there are no Democratic judges in any misdemeanor court. Furthermore, if elected, I would be the only Asian-American judge on any county-wide criminal bench, and I would be the first Vietnamese-American judge elected in Harris County. I believe that our courts, like our juries, should reflect the diversity of our population.
6. Why should people vote for you in November?
First and foremost, I am the most qualified candidate for Harris County Criminal Court 13. Last year, I was recognized as one of Houston’s “Highest Rated” Attorneys in Houstonia Magazine. Having been a prosecutor, a criminal defense attorney, and a judicial law clerk, I would bring a balanced and broad perspective to this Court. I would ensure that all persons appearing in my court whether a defendant or a victim, would be treated fairly.
Furthermore, I want to bring meaningful change to our criminal courts. Right now, too many people—victims, witnesses and the people charged with crimes—have to wait too long get their cases resolved. This is the hidden cost of our criminal court system. I would use my real world experience as a business owner and my over 14 years of experience as a trial lawyer to ensure that Harris County Criminal Court No. 13 provides the meaningful and timely justice that Harris County residents deserve.