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Damon Crenshaw

Endorsement watch: County civil courts

I believe we are finally at the end of the endorsements line. Last to the table are thecounty civil courts, where in a slight change of pace the Democratic challengers were recommended in two out of three contested races:

Civil Court of Law No. 3: Gloria Cantu Minnick

A graduate of South Texas College of Law, Democratic candidate Gloria Cantu Minnick, 69, would bring not only trial experience but sorely needed management skills to this bench with a docket that has grown too long.

Minnick has served as assistant city attorney and senior assistant director for the Public Works and Engineering Department. Republican incumbent Judge Linda Storey has served on the bench since 2006. Also a graduate of South Texas College of Law, Storey, 46, told the Chronicle editorial board that she believed in the election process for judges.

In this case, voters need to vote for a change and support Minnick for this bench.

Civil Court of Law No. 4: Damon Crenshaw

Democratic candidate Damon Crenshaw, 55, is campaigning on the promise to make this court run more efficiently. A graduate of South Texas School of Law, Crenshaw has over 25 years of legal experience.

We agree that it’s time for a change. His opponent, Republican incumbent Judge Roberta Lloyd, received her law degree from Stetson University College of Law and an L.L.M. in taxation from the University of Miami. Her work in animal cruelty resulted in weekly appearances on the television show “Animal Cops-Houston” for several years. Lloyd, 59, has a reputation for being hard to work with on the bench. When you’re a judge, it’s not just about being right, but about how you manage your courtroom. Lloyd has served on this bench since 2004; it’s time for fresh ideas and a new energy.

As has been the norm, the Chron had some nice things to say about the Dem challenger they didn’t endorse, Scot Dollinger, whose Q&A you can see here. I don’t know how much these endorsements matter in the end, and I certainly didn’t agree with all of their choices, but kudos to the Chron for making the effort on all these races. There are a lot of them, and not a lot of sources for voters to learn about the candidates – the endorsements, the League of Women Voters Guide, the HBA Judicial Preference poll, and the various Q&As done by myself, Texpatriate, and Texas Leftist. I hope you feel you had enough information to make sound decisions.

Judicial Q&A: Damon Crenshaw

(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 my 2010 Election page for a full list of Q&As and interviews.)

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

My name is Damon Crenshaw. I am running for Judge of Harris County Civil Court at Law No. 3. My website is DamonCrenshawForJudge.com. I am originally from Texas City and have lived in the Houston area my entire life. I have my B.B.A. from Texas A&M University and my JD from South Texas College of Law. For 24 years of civil trial work I have represented people from all walks of life, small businesses and international business entities. My work for both plaintiffs and defendants has given me a sense of fairness and understanding of opposing sides to the bench. My primary pro bono work has been as a free mediator at the Harris County Dispute Resolution Center for litigants who cannot afford mediation fees. I am the best candidate for the Democrats for this bench.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

This court handles civil disputes involving matters of personal injury, contracts, and property. The jurisdiction is normally limited to cases with value under $100,000. These are disputes of everyday people, much like the types of cases I have handled for 24 years. This court also hears cases of eminent domain (when the government wants to take land for public use) of all values and appeals from the Justice of the Peace Courts.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

I have been in the court with the current judge and I know I can do a better job as judge of this court. I want to improve the efficiency of the administration of the court. I want to save time and money for lawyers and their clients. I want the county civil courts at law to better serve the people of Harris County.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

I have the most experience, a commitment to justice, and the temperament to make me the best candidate for this judicial position. A judge must have experience in the courtroom to more effectively administer justice. For twenty-four (24) years I have represented individuals, small businesses and large companies in the types of cases filed in the court I seek. I have handled more than 50 trials and probably over a thousand lawsuits and claims. My practice has taken me to counties all over Texas and exposed me to various methods courts use to handle their dockets. I have represented both plaintiffs and defendants and will bring a sense of fairness for all parties before the court. I have training and experience as a mediator for legal disputes. I will use those skills learned in mediations to resolve disputes in the court.

5. Why is this race important?

The voters have an opportunity to elect judges in the civil courts at law who have extensive experience representing citizens and companies who have cases in these courts. We need to move this court forward by implementing modern technology, including electronic filing and online files, to more readily provide information to parties and lawyers at a lower cost. I will bring new energy to better serve Harris County.

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

The voters should vote for me in this Democratic Party primary because I am the best candidate for the party. I have the most experience, I am committed to justice in the court, and I have the temperament to administer this court properly. The voters can count on me to be fair, impartial, ethical, efficient, decisive, and timely in my decisions. I have participated in Democratic Party politics by voting in Harris County Democratic Party Primaries (10 times since 1994), voting in elections, and contributing to and working on campaigns for Democratic Party Candidates. I support the party by participating in the coordinated judicial campaign with a 100% contribution.

During this campaign I have made extra efforts to meet the voters of Harris County. I have presented myself and my qualifications to many organizations. As a result I have gained endorsements from the Association of Women Attorneys, Harris County Democrats, Houston Black American Democrats (H-BAD), Harris County Tejano Democrats, the Harris County AFL-CIO Council, the Houston GLBT Political Caucus, Democracy for Houston, Houston Area Stonewall Democrats, Houston Stonewall Young Democrats, and The Houston Chronicle.

Two judicial candidates file lawsuit over ballot order

sigh

Two lawyers seeking Democratic nominations as county court judges today each filed a pro se suit against Gerry Birnberg, chairman of the Harris County Democratic Party, alleging they will be “irreparably harmed” because they aren’t listed first in their races on the primary ballot.

Dennis Slate, a Houston solo, alleges in a petition he filed in Harris County 164th District Court that, as a result of a primary ballot drawing conducted by Birnberg on Jan. 7, his name should be first on the primary ballot for County Criminal Court No. 13. However, Slate alleges in Dennis M. Slate v. Gerry Birnberg, et al. that his primary opponent, John V. O’Sullivan, is listed first on the official Democratic Primary ballot that Slate alleges was made public on Feb. 4 by Harris County Clerk Beverly Kaufman and her office.

Meanwhile, in Javier Valenzuela v. Gerry Birnberg, et al., also filed today in Harris County 334th District Court, Javier Valenzuela alleges he should have been listed on the ballot before his primary opponent, Damon Crenshaw, because of the Jan. 7 primary ballot drawing. Crenshaw and Valenzuela are seeking the nomination for judge in County Civil Court-at-Law No. 3.

Slate and Valenzuela each allege in their petitions that Birnberg has “refused” to correct the errors on the ballot, and they allege they will be “irreparably harmed” by the ballot order.

“It is a well known fact that many times candidates in the first position will receive additional votes based entirely on them being located in the first position,” Valenzuela alleges in his petition.

I’ve heard that, and though I’ve not seen any studies, I believe it’s likely to be true. I can’t evaluate these suits on their merits, but I will say that it’s ridiculous to me that in the age of electronic voting machines we’re still drawing for and arguing over ballot position. There’s no good reason why they can’t be programmed to randomize the ballot order so this issue is moot. Yes, I know, the eSlate machines we have are not able to do that, but as Sue Schechter noted in her interview, we’ll be getting ready to buy their replacements soon. I for one would like to see this capability made a requirement for the next machines. If that means existing elections code needs to be altered to allow for it, then I hope someone will take it up in the next Legislature. There’s just no reason to go through this.