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Judicial Q&A: Mack McInnis

(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.)

Mack McInnis

1. Who are you and what are you running for?

I am Mack McInnis and I am running for the 185th District Court. I am Board Certified in Criminal Law, I am rated AV-Preeminent, the highest rating in legal ability and ethical standards. I am a 2x past Texas Monthly Super Lawyer. I acted as lead counsel in over 200 state and federal criminal jury trials. I am a past Adjunct Professor of Criminal Trial Advocacy (SBA Professor Excellence Award) at South Texas College of Law. I have served on both sides of the advocacy table. I am married and have children and grandchildren. I am an Eagle Scout. I have written numerous articles and frequently lecture on criminal law and evidence.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

The 185th Criminal District Court hears all state felonies including capital murders and misdemeanors involving misconduct by public officials.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

I hate the key-man (pick-a-pal) grand jury selection system. I believe that the names of the grand jurors and commissioners should be public especially after the end of the grand jury term.

It is well known in the media that in 2011 and 2012, the 185th Grand Jury investigated former DA Patricia Lykos. The names of the 2012 commissioners and grand jurors were sealed indefinitely by my opponent. By law, grand jury proceedings (record of testimony) are sealed; however, the names of the grand jurors and commissioners are part of the public domain. I want to have a random selection process for grand jurors and commissioners. It will eliminate the chance of conflict of interest. The majority of Texas counties use some form of a random selection process.

Additionally, I hope to convince the Criminal Judges Board to revitalize the safer, cheaper and better pretrial release system that Harris County had in the 1980s. It lowered jail overcrowding with minimal risk. Sadly, this agency has become primarily a support for the private bail bond industry.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

I received a B.A. in Philosophy and German; a J.D. from University of Houston.

In addition to the answer to number one above, I think voters should know that I have tried very complex cases including capital murders, multi-count federal cases and sex crime cases. I successfully obtained not guilty verdicts in many very difficult criminal cases. On the other hand, I have prevailed against abusive parents in many jury and nonjury trials. I have handled over 100 state and federal appeals including post-conviction writs. I have argued cases in the United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, and Texas appellate courts. I am a past president of the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association (Outstanding President Award) and I am an active member of the Texas District and County Attorneys Association. I am also an active member of the Houston Bar Association, the American Bar Association and Texas Lawyers for Children.

5. Why is this race important?

Justice should be done and it must be seen to be done. This old English judicial expression means that a judge should fairly enforce the law without bias, prejudice or a political agenda and that these actions will be placed in the public domain in a spirit of complete transparency. This year there are many judicial races. This is the public’s chance to get a tough, fair and decisive justice system in Harris County.

6. Why should people vote for you in November?

I will advocate and stay the course to obtain these goals: random selection of grand jurors and commissioners; a cheaper, safer and better pretrial release program; an open and accessible criminal justice system in Harris County. My experience, temperament, training and values qualify me to be judge of the 185th Criminal District Court.

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