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George Barnstone

Endorsement watch: Still not wasting any time

The Chron makes a Civil Court endorsement, way ahead of when they normally do this sort of thing.

HarrisCounty

Harris County Civil Court at Law 1 doesn’t handle the big-money issues that are bread and butter for white-shoe law firms. But for the people who do come before that court, the cases can feel as important as a multi-million dollar suit. Low-level civil disputes, property condemnation cases and evictions and appeals from justice of the peace cases fill the docket for this mid-level court. People will often appear without lawyers and cases can mean the difference between homelessness and a roof over one’s head.

Judges need to be well-versed in the law, but also harbor a healthy compassion for the people who find themselves unprepared and ill-equipped to navigate the legal system. In his meeting with the Houston Chronicle editorial board, incumbent Judge Clyde R. Leuchtag demonstrated an impressive balance between these at-times conflicting drives.

“I feel strongly that I need to follow the law,” Leuchtag said. “But at the same time I think within the law I can help people who are underdogs make sure that they get their day in court.”

[…]

A graduate of Rice University and the South Texas College of Law, Leuchtag also had stints at the Baker Botts law firm and at Shell as a litigator. He exhibits the steady judicial temperament possessed by the best judges. No wonder that we only heard words of praise from his Democratic opponent, George Barnstone.

“If I wasn’t running in this race, I’d probably vote for Clyde,” he told the editorial board.

Barnstone is as amiable a candidate as we have seen, but he can’t match Leuchtag’s experience.

I understood why the Chron wasted no time endorsing Hillary Clinton for President. I’m less clear on why they felt the need to rush this one out the door. Maybe they’ve changed their interview process, in which case we’ll see more of these before we would normally expect them. Be that as it may, I’ll share that Judge Leuchtag was present at the Democratic precinct convention at which Rodney Ellis was formally nominated for Commissioners Court. He was handing out campaign literature – that event was obviously a good opportunity to do such a thing – though none of the materials he had identified him as a Republican. Which, given the event in question, I can understand. Give the man credit for creative opportunism.

Judicial Q&A: George Barnstone

(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.)

George Barnstone

George Barnstone

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

My name is George Barnstone, and I am running for Harris County Civil Court at Law # 1.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

A county civil court at law has jurisdiction in appeals of civil cases from justice courts in Harris County; exclusive jurisdiction in Harris County of eminent domain proceedings, both statutory and inverse, regardless of the amount in controversy.

In addition to other jurisdiction provided by law, a Harris County civil court at law has jurisdiction to:

decide the issue of title to real or personal property;
hear a suit to recover damages for slander or defamation of character;
hear a suit for the enforcement of a lien on real property;
hear a suit for the forfeiture of a corporate charter;
hear a suit for the trial of the right to property valued at $200 or more that has been levied on under a writ of execution, sequestration, or attachment; and
hear a suit for the recovery of real property.

Under the Texas Government Code, “a statutory county court exercising civil jurisdiction concurrent with the constitutional jurisdiction of the county court has concurrent jurisdiction with the district court in . . . civil cases in which the matter in controversy exceeds $500 but does not exceed $100,000 . . . as alleged on the face of the petition.” Tex. Gov’t Code Ann. §25.0003 (Vernon Supp. 2009).

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

I am running for Harris County Civil Court at Law # 1 to bring fairness and efficiency to the court.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

I have been a lawyer for more than 20 years, and I have practiced in the county civil courts.

5. Why is this race important?

This race is important because this court affects consumers’ lives, and the judge needs to have an understanding and compassion for the debtors who appear in this court.

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

People should vote for me because I will bring a balanced approach to the bench and I have integrity. My Democratic primary opponent has voted in 2 of the last 3 REPUBLICAN primaries. His wife and law partner is running in the Republican Primary FOR THE SAME BENCH. They have admitted to the Houston Press that they planned this so that someone in the family wins the bench, and they don’t care how it happens.

The people of Harris County deserve better than this.

Judicial Q&A: George Barnstone

(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 2014 Election page.)

George Barnstone

George Barnstone

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

My name is George Barnstone, and I am running Harris County Criminal Court at Law No. 10.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

This court hears A & B misdemeanors.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

I am running for this bench because I want to change the pipeline for mentally ill vagrants who are arrested for minor misdemeanor charges and sent to the Harris County Jail. The mentally ill need appropriate treatment, not imprisonment where they don’t receive adequate care.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

I have been an attorney for twenty years, and I am a member of the College of the State Bar.

5. Why is this race important?

This race is important because it is an opportunity to bring new blood with new ideas on how to treat the mentally ill who are arrested for minor criminal charges. Many of those who live on the street are mentally ill. My opponent is part of the machine that has imprisoned people who need help. The way we treat those who are weakest and can’t defend themselves is a very poor reflection of us as a society and the criminal justice system. Shockingly, the largest mental health facility in the state of Texas is the Harris County Jail.

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

People should vote for me in the primary because we cannot afford monetarily or morally to continue the mass incarceration of those who are in need of treatment.