Judicial Q&A: Eric William Carter

(Note: As I have done in past elections, I am running a series of Q&As for judicial candidates in contested Democratic primaries. I’m now doing this for some candidates in the May runoff who had not done a Q&A in March. You can see all of my interviews as well as finance reports and other information on candidates on my 2016 Election page.)

Eric Carter

Eric Carter

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

I am Eric William Carter, and I aim to be your Justice of the Peace for Precinct 1, Place 1 in Harris County. I am a native Houstonian, born and raised in Sharpstown. As a trial and appellate lawyer for nearly 10 years, I have worked in a variety of areas, primarily in business and commercial litigation. I am also a husband, a small business owner, and a committed community supporter.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

The Justice Court hears a wide variety of cases, but primarily hears civil claims involving an amount in dispute of $10,000 or less, Class C Misdemeanors, traffic tickets, and evictions.

However, a Justice of the Peace is more than a Judge Position. To me, the Justice of the Peace is a vital community position, and a JP should be a community leader and supporter. After all, the Justice Court is the people’s court — it is the court that is most accessible to the every-day citizen. In addition to managing the day-to-day dockets of the Justice Court, a JP should also work with community leadership to address important issues that occur in our community, both of which I intend to do as your next JP.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

I have a desire to serve the citizens of Harris County, my neighbors, and to work towards improving the quality of life of the citizens in Precinct 1 and beyond. This desire stems from my lifelong commitment to community service which, as the son of a Methodist Minister, was instilled at an early age.

The most interesting and exciting aspect of this community position is that you are truly on the ground floor, working daily with your neighbors, many of whom represent themselves in their cases. It is this constant and direct contact with the citizens which most draws me to the Justice Court. This Court also provides the opportunity to create judicial outreach programs to improve our community, such as my plan to start a “Teen Court” designed to educate and empower our next generation. For me, there is no better way to use all my years of training and experience to improve our community.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

Over my nearly ten years of legal practice, I have handled nearly all forms of pre-litigation and trial matters in various business and commercial litigation cases, involving the following areas of law: business transaction and contract disputes, fraud and negligence actions, personal and business torts, Federal SEC regulations and corporate compliance, real estate transactions, landlord/tenant actions, estate planning, and more. My experience includes practicing before many of the courts of Texas, such as: Justice Courts, County Courts at Law, Texas Judicial District Courts, Texas Courts of Appeals, as well as the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

In addition to my general litigation practice, I have also received several judicial appointments to appear as Guardian Ad Litem for the benefit of minor children in Harris County and beyond. Eight different courts, including the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, have entrusted me to protect our community’s children.

Recently, when considering all of the Democratic and Republican candidates for this position (at the time, totaling 10 individuals), the Houston Bar Association’s Judicial Candidate Qualifications Poll rated me as the Most Qualified Candidate for Justice of the Peace – Precinct 1, Place 1.

Prior to practicing law, I served as a legislative aide in the Texas House of Representatives, and also the Texas House Committee on General Investigating and Ethics. Since earning my law degree from South Texas College of Law, I’ve worked alongside my father at our law firm, fighting for real people, families, small businesses, and children. Throughout my legal career, I have been involved with or tried nearly every type of case that regularly appears before a Justice of the Peace.

Outside of my law practice, I have a lifelong commitment to community service. This commitment continues today as I serve on the Board of Directors for Wesley Community Center (serving the 5th Ward Community), as well as support our Shrine Hospital System as a Mason and a Shriner.

Over the years, I’ve developed many relationships with our legal, political, and community leaders, which will be necessary to help address important issues occurring every day within Precinct 1. I am capable, motivated, and driven to work for the citizens of Harris County as their next JP.

5. Why is this race important?

This is one of the busiest Justice Courts in Texas. After 37 years of dedicated service to Houston and Harris County, our current Justice of the Peace, the Honorable Judge Dale Gorczynski, has announced that he will not seek re-election in 2016. As this is an open seat, there once existed a crowded field of potential candidates hoping to succeed Judge Gorczynski. I am grateful to have received the most votes in the March 1st Democratic Primary. In the May 24th Runoff, I will face a passionate opponent, whom I respect. However, I am the only candidate with the legal education and training that can “hit the ground running” for this Justice Court and our community.

This Court is, for many, the only place people can go to seek relief and justice. The Judge must be someone who will work hard to “get it right” the first time, because many of our citizens may not have the financial means to pursue their claims on appeal.

For the first time in decades, the citizens of Precinct 1 must place their trust in a new Justice of the Peace. Should the voters elect to trust in me, their next JP will be someone with significant legal experience, commitment to our community, and dedication to equality and justice for all.

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

I believe in treating everyone with equality, fairness, and the respect that they deserve. I pledge to carry those values into Court with me every single day. I pledge to maintain the office with honor, dedication to justice, and respect for all our citizens. Most of all, I promise to be a fair Judge that will listen patiently to every person.

And I want to listen.

If you have a dispute with your neighbor, come on down to the courthouse – I’ll listen to your story. Are you in a fight with your landlord? Come and see me, and I’ll help sort it out. Did you get a traffic ticket? Don’t be nervous, come on down to the courthouse, and we’ll find a fair solution.

Precinct 1 has been my home for more than a decade. I, Eric William Carter, as your next Justice of the Peace for Precinct 1, Place 1, will work to improve our community every single day.

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