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Judicial Q&A: Jim Lewis

(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.)

Jim Lewis

Jim Lewis

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

I am Jim Lewis and I seek election as Judge of the 11th Civil District Court, Harris County, Texas (the oldest Court in Texas – formerly the Harrisburg District Court).  While I’ve been known as “Jim” since people stopped calling me “Jimmy” in grade school, my legal name is James Bradley Lewis so Westlaw and other legal searches should be run by my full legal name or “James B. Lewis.”  I have been trying cases and arguing appeals throughout Texas since 1987 when I graduated from the University of Texas School of Law.  In 1994 I was board certified in civil appellate law and also became an AMI certified advanced mediator.  I’m a Senior Life fellow in the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) and a member of the Texas Association of Civil Trial and Appellate Specialists (TACTAS). 

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

The 11th, as all Civil District Courts in Texas, hears a very broad spectrum of civil matters including claims for money damages (with jurisdiction to infinity), claims for injunctive relief, and many other types of cases which do not involve criminal law or family law (for example—breach of contract, wrongful death, partnership disputes, libel, etc).  

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

This bench has a special place in the history of my career (my first involvement in a District Court case was in the 11th, in late 1987, with Judge Blanton presiding) and a special place in the history of Texas, as the oldest court in Texas, established in December of 1836, by President Sam Houston and Secretary of State, Stephen F. Austin. My former law partner of nearly 19 years, Judge Mike Miller, has presided over the 11th since January 2, 2009 (I introduced him at his investiture).  When, in January of 2015, he announced he would not seek reelection I felt the time was right to seek the bench. My father was a trial court judge following his long private practice. He showed me how great an impact a court has in the community, which has always been inspiring to me. I admire the standard of ethics and integrity Judge Miller has maintained and I will work very hard to maintain the extremely high standards that he and other esteemed Judges of the 11th have set.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

I have been trying cases and arguing appeals throughout Texas for 28 years. My entire career has been dedicated to practicing the same kind of law heard in the 11th District Court. My mediation practice has also been highly successful, with my services in high demand. I have achieved several legal certifications and am a member of several distinguished trial law and appellate organizations as a result of my years of experience and success in the courtroom, including:

  • American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), Senor Life Fellow
  • Texas Association of Civil Trial and Appellate Specialists (TACTAS)
  • State Bar of Texas – Litigation, ADR, and Appellate Sections
  • Houston Bar Association
  • Texas Trial Lawyers Association – Amicus Committee
  • Houston Trial Lawyers Association
  • Harris County Democratic Lawyers Association
  • AV rated– Preeminent (unquestioned professional ethics and highest legal abilities peer review rating by Martindale-Hubbell) , since 1994
  • Board Certified, Civil Appellate Law, Texas Board of Legal Specialization, since 1994
  • AMI certified Advanced Mediator, since 1994
  • Certified Arbitrator, Manousso program, March 2014
  • Over 100 combined trials and appeals (much more than my opponents, combined)

5. Why is this race important?

Down ballot races are often overlooked and the consequences are not realized until much later. Civil Court decisions don’t get the media attention criminal trials receive, yet the results often have a greater impact on more citizens of the county and state.  Civil Courts are where billion dollar cases between energy behemoths are settled, here is where responsibility for polluting our waters ways is decided. The current Judge of the 11th, Honorable Mike Miller, presided over the Hurricane Ike cases.  He also presided over Joe Jamail’s last case (Mr. Jamail was in the 11th when he turned 90) and in many significant cases involving issues of public policy and safety (for example, the case involving the tasering death of a disabled man). We all feel the effects of civil district court decisions when we pay our insurance bills or file an insurance claim.  The majority of citizens will never step foot in a civil district court, but as Judge of the 11th, I will accept the immense responsibility of this bench with an understanding of the impact it has on all citizens of the county.  I am by far the candidate with the most experience relevant to fulfilling this responsibility. 

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

I am by far the most qualified and prepared to serve Harris County from the bench in my race. My 28 years of real trial and appellate experience and success is unmatched. Sustained and successful practice of the law is the most relevant experience for this elected position. To use a simple metaphor—a race car driver is highly skilled but not the choice to fly a passenger jet plane. I have achieved great success, for 28 years, in the very type of court where I seek to be Judge. In fact, I have had many cases in that very court, beginning with my first district court case back in 1987.

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