(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 other Q&As and further information about judicial candidates on my 2018 Judicial page.
1. Who are you and what are you running for?
My name is Kathy Vossler. I am running for the 309th Family District Court. I am a lifelong Houstonian, a 20-year family lawyer, an active member of the community, Super Neighborhood President, Leadership Houston Class XXXIV member and Project Manager, and proud mother of three grown children.
2. What kind of cases does this court hear?
This court hears family law cases, which include divorce, custody, child support, adoptions, CPS cases, grandparent rights, interstate and international jurisdiction issues. Family Court is the court where most people are likely to be at one point or another, and it is a court where people can be profoundly impacted, both financially and emotionally. Family court judges decide who will raise children, and under what terms, what kind of visitation will take place, and if any restrictions are needed in order to keep children safe. They decide how assets will be divided, how debts will be paid, whether someone can remain in their home, what will happen to their retirement and savings. Family courts determine if a parent can move away with the child, if a parent’s rights will be terminated, if an adoption is in the child’s best interest, if someone should go to jail for non-payment of child support. Family courts see to it that the constitutional rights of litigants are protected, and that the children it oversees are given their best chance at a safe, stable, happy, healthy childhood.
3. Why are you running for this particular bench?
Because of the seriousness of the issues that the family court handles, it is imperative that we have a Judge in the 309th Family District Court who is qualified and experienced in the various types of cases and issues that the court will hear. It is also important that the people who come into the court are treated with respect and dignity, that they are given the opportunity to be heard in a way that is sensitive to the cost and value of the attorney’s time, and that is respectful of the situation in which the litigants find themselves. Nobody likes going to court. The experience is often rife with anxiety and fear of the unknown. The results of a single court hearing can be life-altering and can impact several generations of the same family, all at the same time and for years. It is the court’s duty to be courteous and professional, to treat people with respect, whether they are lawyers, litigants, witnesses or onlookers, and to ensure that the parties are able to conclude their business in a manner that is fair, efficient, dignified and respectful and that allows people to move on with their lives, knowing that they were treated fairly and impartially. I have spent the past 20 years working in family law, and have earned a reputation for being fair, honest, competent, professional, respectful and efficient, and I will bring those qualities with me to the bench of the 309th Family District Court.
4. What are your qualifications for this job?
I have been practicing family law for over twenty years. I have represented husbands, wives, moms, dads, children, grandparents, aunts and non-relatives. I have handled divorces, child custody cases, enforcement cases, adoption, termination, interstate jurisdictional issues, grandparent rights cases, name changes and CPS cases. I have been actively involved in family law as evolving social and technological issues have altered the way cases are handled – from the use of DNA, to the use of Facebook postings as evidence, from same-sex marriage, to surrogacy. The times we live in are exciting and our world is rapidly changing. Those changes are always at the forefront of family law cases, and it is important to have a Judge in the 309th Family District Court that understands the law, has experience in handling these types of cases and guiding people through the process, which is often one of the most difficult and taxing times of their lives, and can do all this while allowing the parties and attorneys to maintain their dignity and to have respect for the system. I believe that I will be that judge.
5. Why is this race important?
This race is important because Harris County has over 4 ½ million people and only ten family courts. Nine of those are up for election in 2018. Most people will never find themselves in a criminal court or a civil court. They are more likely to come into family court, because most of us have families, friends, or issues that need to be dealt with in family court. The impact of a family court case can last a generation or longer. A wise custody decision can mean the difference between a safe, happy childhood and successful adulthood, or one filled with danger, limited opportunities and crippling criminal or health woes. A fair, well-considered and respectfully delivered opinion that is consistent with the law can mean the difference between protracted litigation and continued fighting, and the parties moving on with their lives. It is important that we have a judge in the 309th Family District Court who knows the law, understands the issues, relates to the people, and will rule efficiently, fairly and in accordance with the law. That brings closure and certitude, and allows people to move on with their lives and be the best person they can be.
6. Why should people vote for you in the primary?
I need your vote in the March Primary election so that I can be your Democratic nominee on the ballot in November. The Primary will be held on March 6th, and early voting will commence before that. I am by far the most qualified candidate in the race. I have a proven track record and a wealth of experience in handling all of the kinds of cases that this court will hear. I will come to the bench with a knowledge of the law and experience with the types of cases and issues that will come before me. My opponent is a self-described ‘oil and gas’ lawyer with minimal courtroom experience. This court and the voters of Harris County deserve a Judge in the 309th Family District Court who knows the law, understands the issues, is prepared to run the court professionally and efficiently, will rule fairly, according to the law and will treat the people who come into the court with dignity and respect. I am that person, and I hope to have your support.