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Bruce Kessler

Endorsement watch: Family Court judges

Ten more benches, ten more endorsements, only this time the score is 8-2 Democrats:

245th Family District Court: Janiece Horn, a Democrat, is our choice for this open bench.

246th Family District Court: Sherri Cothrun, the Democratic challenger, says she would bring a more “contemporary perspective” to this bench than the 16-year incumbent.

280th Family District Court: Kathy Vossler, the Democratic candidate, is our choice for this open bench, which has been designated to handle family violence cases.

308th Family District Court: Bruce Kessler, the Democratic candidate, would bring sensitivity and thorough knowledge of the law to this open bench.

309th Family District Court: Bill Rice, the Democratic candidate, would bring 35 years of family law practice experience to this bench.

310th Family District Court: Judy Dougherty, the Democrat, is our choice for this bench.

311th Family District Court: Deborah Wright, the Democratic candidate for this open bench, has extensive experience in private practice and as an associate judge in the family courts.

312th Family District Court: Robert Hinojosa, the Democratic incumbent on the 312th bench, is a veteran of 36 years of family law practice.

And here are their Q&A responses:

Janiece Horn (note: from the primary)

Sherri Cothrun

Kathy Vossler

Bruce Kessler

Bill Rice

Judy Dougherty

Janiece Horn emailed me last night to say that she will send her updated responses shortly. I have not received responses from Deborah Wright or Judge Robert Hinojosa. Responses from the two Democratic candidates who did not get the Chron endorsement are here:

Mary Kay Green, 247th Family Court (note: from the primary)

Sandra Peake, 257th Family Court

You can see Q&As for the Republican candidates at Big Jolly Politics.

Judicial Q&A: Bruce Kessler

(Note: I am running a series of Q&As for Democratic judicial candidates on the November ballot. I am running these responses in the order that I receive them from the candidates. These Q&As are primarily intended for candidates who were not in contested primaries. You can see those earlier Q&As, as well as all the ones in this series and all my recorded interviews for this cycle, on my 2010 Elections page.)

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

I am Bruce Kessler and I am running for Judge of the 308th Family District Court of Harris County, Texas, in the November general election.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

The 308th is a specialized state district court that hears family law cases such as divorce, child custody, child support, suits affecting the parent-child relationship, termination of parental rights, adoptions, name changes and other matters involving interpersonal and family relationships.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

I am running for this particular bench because the current judge is not seeking re-election in November. I would like the opportunity to help the families of Harris County by making the 308th a more efficient and user-friendly court. I intend to implement specific policies and procedures to make the court more accessible and efficient and to expedite hearings and trials so that cases can be heard timely and with less cost. My goal is to make the 308th a court whose hallmarks are courtesy, consistency, common sense and compassion.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

I am a life-long Houstonian and I received all of my education from kindergarten through law school here in Houston. I am a graduate of St. John’s School, Rice University and the University of Houston Law Center. I am 52 years old, married, with two children – one in college and one in graduate school.

I am an attorney and mediator with over 20 years experience in the active practice of family law. I am Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and have been certified as having special competence in the practice of Family Law since 1994. I am a former Family Court Associate Judge and I continue to serve as a Family Court Special Master. I am a former Committee Chair of a State Bar Grievance Committee. I belong to many professional organizations through which I keep current with family law issues.

5. Why is this race important?

That is a good question as many voters may be asking, “Well, those family court judges are way down at the bottom of the ballot, why should I care about them?” The answer is that a Family Court Judge is probably the one elected official with whom the families of Harris County are most likely to have contact. After all, everyone knows someone who has been divorced, is getting a divorce, is under a child support obligation or is having problems with an ex-spouse. Since there are so many family law cases in Harris County, the decisions made by a Family Court Judge will have consequences not only for a given family but for our community as a whole. That is why it is essential that qualified and committed persons are elected to serve as Family Court Judges. As the 308th is an open bench, this race is particularly important because it provides an opportunity to elect as judge a person with the experience, perspective and proven ability to administer a court efficiently and productively as well as someone who is genuinely interested in improving the court by making it more user-friendly and accessible. As I see it, if the 308th implements new ideas that prove to be successful, then other family courts may follow suit so that all of the family courts become more focused on serving the needs of the families of Harris County.

6. Why should people vote for you in November?

I am the only candidate for the 308th who is Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and have been certified as such since 1994. Board certification is a means by which lawyers can distinguish themselves as having special competency in certain areas of practice such as family law.

I am also the only candidate for the 308th who has judicial experience in that I served several years as an Associate Judge in a different Family Court and I continue to serve as a visiting Special Master in still another Harris County Family Court. As such, I am familiar with the law and I have a proven ability to apply it with compassion and fairness for families.

I value honesty, integrity, hard work and common sense in my practice and I intend to carry these values with me to the bench. I enjoy a good reputation both personally and professionally. I am always receptive to new ideas and will strive to make the 308th a more efficient and user-friendly court. I plan to implement specific policies and procedures to make the court more accessible and efficient for the families of Harris County.

During the course of the primary and run-off elections, I intentionally sought and obtained the support of vastly different organizations because it was important for me to become familiar with their needs and issues. I intend to maintain this familiarity because it will enable me to be more understanding and educated as a Judge and will help me in making decisions that are customized for each family as opposed to dispensing “cookie cutter” justice.

I take the responsibility of being a Judge very seriously. As such, I am committed to working hard every day and doing my best for each family that may come before me.

For all of the above reasons, I believe that I am the best-qualified candidate to be the next Judge of the 308th Family District Court and I would be honored if the voters of Harris County would vote for me in the general election.

Thank you for taking the time to read about my candidacy.

Judicial Q&A: Bruce Kessler

(Note: I am running a series of Q&As for judicial candidates in contested Democratic primaries. There are a lot of judicial races on the ballot in Harris County this election, and so 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. I will also be conducting some in-person interviews of candidates who will be involved in contested primaries for non-judicial offices. Please see the 2010 Election page listed at the top of the blog for a full list of Q&As and interviews.)

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

I am Bruce Kessler and I am running for Judge of the 308th Family District Court of Harris County, Texas, in the March 2010 Democratic primary.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

The 308th is a family law court and hears matters such as divorce, custody, child support, suits affecting the parent-child relationship, terminations and adoptions, name changes and other cases involving interpersonal and family relationships

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

I would like the opportunity to improve the 308th by making it a more efficient and user-friendly court. I plan to implement specific policies and procedures to make the court more accessible and efficient for the working families of Harris County and to expedite hearings and trials so that cases can be heard timely. I intend for courtesy, consistency, common sense and compassion to be the hallmarks of the 308th Family District Court.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

I am an attorney with 23 years experience in the active practice of family law; I am Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, indicating special competence in the practice of Family Law; I am a former Family Court Associate Judge; I am a skilled family law mediator; I am a former Committee Chair of a State Bar Grievance Committee; and I belong to many professional organizations through which I keep current with family law issues.

5. Why is this race important?

This is an important race because it is for an open bench as the current judge is not seeking re-election. The 308th needs a judge with the experience, perspective and proven ability to administer the court efficiently and productively as well as the interest in making it more user-friendly and accessible.

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

I am the only candidate for the 308th who is Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and have been certified as such since 1994. I am also the only candidate for the 308th who has served as an Associate Judge in a Family Court. Not only am I familiar with the law but I have a proven ability to manage a court’s docket.

I value honesty, integrity, hard work and common sense in my practice. I enjoy a good reputation within the Bar both personally and professionally. I am always receptive to new ideas and will strive to make the 308th a more efficient and user-friendly court. I plan to implement specific policies and procedures to make the court more accessible and efficient for the working families of Harris County.

My years as a mediator have provided additional insight and ability to hear and understand issues and have further enabled me to structure solutions that are customized for each case as opposed to “cookie cutter” justice.

Further, from a Democratic perspective, I ran for a family bench in 1998 and I have a solid history of voting Democratic.

I believe that I am the best qualified Democratic candidate in the primary election and the candidate best suited to compete against any candidate from another party in the general election.