Judicial Q&A: Kristen Hawkins

(Note: As I have done in past elections, I am running a series of Q&As for judicial candidates in contested Democratic primaries. This is intended to help introduce the candidates and their experiences to those who plan to vote in March. I am running these responses in the order that I receive them from the candidates. You can see all of my interviews as well as finance reports and other information on candidates on my 2016 Election page.)

Kristen Hawkins

Kristen Hawkins

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

My name is Kristen Hawkins, and I am running for the 11th Civil District Court of Harris County.

I am a 16-year attorney with five years of judicial experience. I grew up in Houston, attended Alief Hastings High School, the University of Texas at Austin, and South Texas College of Law. During my 16 years practicing as an attorney I have represented individuals, doctors, small-business owners, and corporations.

In 2010 I was appointed as one of the Harris County Tax Masters and presided over Tax Court once a week. I managed a docket of approximately 6,000 cases. I am active in both the Texas and Houston Bar Associations, and I frequently present classes on topics ranging from Social Security Disability, property tax law, courtroom procedures, technology, and establishing a small firm.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

The 11th Civil District Court hears civil cases ranging from dog bites, car wrecks, and other personal injury cases to contractual disputes, business disputes to property tax issues, name changes to injunctions, nuisance cases to property boundary disputes. The 11th Court does not generally hear family, criminal, juvenile, or probate matters.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

The 11th District Court is an open seat and currently held by a Democrat. It should continue to be held by a strong, qualified Democratic judge. Also if elected, I would be the first female judge on this bench, the oldest in Texas.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

I have 5 years judicial experience managing a docket of approximately 6,000 cases that has taught me how to run both an efficient court and a court that allows litigants to have their day in court and to have their voice heard. This experience also gave me insight into some of the administrative changes that judicial candidates and judges may want to consider when deciding how to engage more citizens in the judicial process.

5. Why is this race important?

The public is more likely to interact with a judge than any other elected official, whether through jury service, a civil marriage, a legal dispute that brings them to court, or being a witness in a case, so it is important that the public become familiar with judicial candidates. It is also important to keep a strong, qualified, Democratic judge on this bench, and to elect more women to county-wide offices, such as judicial positions.

6. Why should people vote for you in the primary?

I am a strong, qualified, female candidate with five years of judicial experience who will bring new ideas on the administration of justice to the bench. I have written an op-ed on diversity in jury service and am committed to finding ways to engage citizens in our judicial system.

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