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Grant Harvey

Endorsement watch: The judges

After a couple of Republican endorsements, the Chron gives us a slate of judicial candidates for the Democratic primary in the district courts. A brief summary:

Singhal in Democratic primary for 1st Court of Appeals, Place 3

We recommend Dinesh Singhal, 52, who has tried more than 25 cases and handled 19 appeals.

Hootman in Democratic primary for 1st Court of Appeals, Place 5

We recommend Tim Hootman, 57, an experienced appellate lawyer who is known for having an atypical legal approach.

Robinson in Democratic primary for chief of the 14th Court of Appeals

We recommend Jane Robinson, 46, who is board certified in civil appellate law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

Kronzer in Democratic primary for 14th Court of Appeals Place 7

We recommend Wally Kronzer, 65, who has extensive appellate court experience in state and federal courts.

Weiman in Democratic primary for 80th Harris County District Court

We recommend incumbent Larry Weiman, 64, who has been on this bench since 2008.

Harvey in the Democratic primary for the 164th Harris County District Court

We recommend Grant J. Harvey, 55, who is a highly regarded litigator who has participated in numerous trials and appeals.

Daic in the Democratic primary for the 165th Harris County District Court

We recommend Megan Daic, 34, for a court that needs a more efficient and decisive judge.

Acklin in the Democratic Primary for the 176th Harris County District Court

We recommend Bryan Acklin, 34, who is a former prosecutor and is now a criminal defense attorney.

Martinez in the Democratic Primary for the 179th Harris County District Court

We recommend Ana Martinez, 39, who gained a sterling reputation as a human trafficking prosecutor before she became a defense attorney.

Moore in the Democratic Primary for the 333th Harris County District Court

We recommend incumbent Daryl Moore, 58, who may be the most respected incumbent running in Harris County.

Kirkland in the Democratic Primary for the 334th Harris County District Court

We recommend incumbent Steven Kirkland, 59, who has been on this bench since 2016 and served on another civil bench and a municipal bench before that.

Gaido in the Democratic Primary for the 337th Harris County District Court

We recommend Colleen Gaido, 39, who is a respected former prosecutor and current criminal defense attorney.

Bell in the Democratic Primary for the 339TH Harris County District Courts

We recommend Te’iva Bell, 39, who has served in the felony courts from three perspectives – as a prosecutor, a criminal defense attorney and a public defender. H

Powell in the Democratic Primary for the 351th Harris County District Court

We recommend incumbent George Powell, 54, who was elected to this bench in 2016.

Phillips in the Democratic Primary for the 507th Harris County District Court

We recommend C.C. “Sonny” Phillips, 59, who has been practicing family law, and occasionally appellate law, for 34 years.

They did actually say more about the candidates they recommend, and they noted who else was on the ballot. Go read all that for yourself. As noted, Weiman, Moore, Kirkland, and Powell are incumbents, while Harvey (Alex Smoots-Thomas), Daic (Ursula Hall), Acklin (Nikita Harmon), Martinez (Randy Roll), and Phillips (Julia Maldonado) are running against incumbents. Here are the Q&A’s I’ve run from candidates in these races:

Tim Hootman, 1st Court of Appeals, Place 5
Jane Robinson, Chief Justice, 14th Court of Appeals
Wally Kronzer, 14th Court of Appeals, Place 7

Grant Harvey, 164th Civil Court
Megan Daic, 165th Civil Court
Bryan Acklin, 176th Criminal Court
Ana Martinez, 179th Criminal Court
Judge Steven Kirkland, 334th Civil Court

Q&A’s from candidates not endorsed by the Chron:

Tamika Craft, 14th Court of Appeals, Place 7
V.R. “Velda” Faulkner, 14th Court of Appeals, Place 7
Lennon Wright, 14th Court of Appeals, Place 7

Cheryl Elliott Thornton, 164th Civil Court
Jimmie Brown, 165th Civil Court
Judge Randy Roll, 179th Criminal Court
Judge Julia Maldonado, 507th Family Court
Robert Morales, 507th Family Court

Q&A responses from Natalia Cornelio (351st Criminal Court) and Cheri Thomas (14th Court of Appeals, Place 7) are in the queue and will be published in the next couple of days. The Chron will do endorsements for the Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals separately, and will not be endorsing in the County Court, Justice of the Peace, and Constable races. That’s one way to get through this long list of candidates and races in a (mostly) timely fashion.

One last thing: As is often the case with these judicial endorsements, I agree with some and not so much with others. The one that surprises me is the endorsement of Judge Powell. After the big deal the Chron made about not endorsing any judge or judicial candidate who didn’t support bail reform in 2018, it’s a bit jarring to see no mention at all of that subject in this context.

Judicial Q&A: Grant Harvey

(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.)

Grant Harvey

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

My name is Grant Harvey, and I am running for judge of the 164th Civil District Court in Harris County. I have practiced law for nearly 30 years and currently serve as a volunteer Special Prosecutor for the Harris County DA’s office where we’re working to prosecute environmental crimes. I am married to Elizabeth Marroquin Harvey. We have an incredible 13-year-old daughter, and I have a wonderful 31-year-old stepson who teaches music in public school. We also have two other family members—a German Shepherd-mix rescue puppy and a Yorkshire Terrier that thinks he is a German Shepherd.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

As a Texas civil district court, the 164th is the highest-level state trial court. In Harris County, we have a number of specialized district courts including family courts, criminal courts, and probate courts. The 164th is a non-specialized court of general jurisdiction for matters that would not otherwise be filed in the specialized courts. Examples of the types of cases heard in the 164th include medical malpractice, personal injury, contract disputes, disputes with insurers, disputes with homebuilders and many more. In addition, major disputes between or involving local branches of government are filed in courts like the 164th. For instance, when the Fire Fighter’s Union sued the City of Houston in 2017, that case was handled by a civil district court like the 164th. Because of its wide-ranging jurisdiction and potential impact on every Houstonian, this is a very important court, and it is critical that we have the best judge possible on this court.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

Having practiced for almost 30 years and appeared in front of 100+ judges, I understand how critical to our judicial system it is that we select only the best of the best to be judges. “Just okay” isn’t good enough. Great judges excel at understanding and applying the law, working hard, being impartial and fair, being respectful, and ensuring that the courthouse doors are open to everyone regardless of their race, nationality, religion, sexual orientation or the size of one’s bank account. Great judges understand that being a judge is not a job—it is a commitment of service to one’s community—a community that is entrusting the fair and impartial administration of justice to the judges it elects. That is an awesome responsibility to shoulder. I am qualified for this position, I am committed to public service, and I am running because I want to restore integrity and respect back to this important position.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

I have practiced law for almost 30 years. I attended law school at the University of Texas where I graduated in the top 10% of my class. I “graded on” to the Texas Law Review. I clerked for Judge David Ebel who sits on the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit immediately upon graduating from law school. Next, I started as an associate with the Gibbs & Bruns, LLP law firm, was promoted to partner in five years, and then worked as a partner and senior partner for nearly twenty. Gibbs & Bruns is recognized throughout the United States as one of the best trial law firms in the country. Throughout my legal career, I have represented hundreds of clients before 100+ judges in courts throughout Texas and in on other states. I have represented plaintiffs and defendants, individuals and corporations on all sorts of cases—medical malpractice, personal injury, complex commercial litigation, partnership disputes, oil and gas disputes, eminent domain, employment litigation etc. My extensive background includes litigation, trial work and appellate work. I’ve been fortunate enough to have received recognitions from various legal ratings groups including Chambers Leadings Lawyers; World’s Leading Litigators; Leading US Trial Lawyers by Legal 500; Expert Guide’s “Best of the Best USA;” Thomson Reuters Texas Super Lawyer’s Top 100 List;” and others.

Today, I hold an of-counsel position with my law firm and spend my time practicing law on a pro bono, volunteer basis. I currently am serving as a Special Counsel for the Harris County DA’s office as we work on behalf of Texans on a criminal case involving a pollution event that took place during Hurricane Harvey. I also serve on the Board of Directors and the executive committee for Today’s Harbor for Children, a home for abused and abandoned children. I have served on the board for nearly twenty years (three of which was spent as Chairman), and I led a volunteer legal team that obtained a $5+ million settlement from a city that was interfering with the charity’s ability to use its land. In sum, I have been preparing for more than thirty years to serve my community at the highest level and am ready to serve my community as judge of the 164th Civil District Court.

5. Why is this race important?

Today, with the concern over how our executive and legislative branches are functioning, it is more important than ever that we have complete confidence in the third branch of government—the judicial branch. This race is critical not only because the 164th District Court is an important court but because the role of a judge is crucial to the administration of justice. The incumbent judge for 164th District Court has been suspended from serving by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct. That makes it all the more important that voters do their research and that they make an informed decision before selecting the person they want to entrust with the weighty responsibility of administering fair and impartial justice in the 164th.

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

Both because of their impact on Houstonians and their role as pillars of free and fair governance, it is vitally important that we elect only the best of the best to serve as judges. Not only should our judges have an established track record of professional success at the highest level—but they should also demonstrate a commitment to public service. I have an established track record of professional success and public service beginning with law school, continuing through my tenure as an associate and partner at one of the best law firms in the United States, and culminating today in my present position as a volunteer Special Prosecutor for the Harris County DA’s office. I have received endorsements from the AFL CIO, Area 5 Democrats, Bay Area New Democrats, and the Greater Heights Democratic Club. If I am elected judge, the 164th District Court will once again be a court of which the citizens of Harris County be proud.

After-deadline filing review: Courts

Let’s return to the wonderful world of scoping out our candidates. Today we will concentrate on judicial races. Previous entries in this series are for the greater Houston area, Congress, state races, and the Lege.

Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals

I’ve actually covered all of these races, and given bits of info about the candidates, here and here. Go read those posts for the details, and here as a reminder are the candidates’ names and Facebook pages:

Supreme Court, Position 1 (Chief Justice) – Amy Clark Meachum
Supreme Court, Position 1 (Chief Justice) – Jerry Zimmerer

Supreme Court, Position 6 – Brandy Voss
Supreme Court, Position 6 – Staci Williams

Supreme Court, Position 7 – Kathy Cheng
Supreme Court, Position 7 – Lawrence Praeger

Supreme Court, Position 8 – Gisela Triana
Supreme Court, Position 8 – Peter Kelly

Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 3 – William Demond
Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 3 – Elizabeth Frizell
Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 3 – Dan Wood

Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 4 – Brandon Birmingham

Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 9 – Tina Yoo Clinton
Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 9 – Steve Miears

First and 14th Courts of Appeals

Covered to some extent here, but there has been some subsequent activity, so let’s get up to date.

Veronica Rivas-Molloy – 1st Court of Appeals, Place 3
Dinesh Singhal – 1st Court of Appeals, Place 3
Jim Sharp – 1st Court of Appeals, Place 3

Rivas-Molloy and Singhal were mentioned previously. Jim Sharp is the same Jim Sharp that won in 2008 and lost in 2014.

Amparo Guerra – 1st Court of Appeals, Place 5
Tim Hootman – 1st Court of Appeals, Place 5

Both candidates were also previously mentioned. This is the seat now vacated by Laura Carter Higley.

Jane Robinson – 14th Court of Appeals, Place 1, Chief Justice
Jim Evans – 14th Court of Appeals, Place 1, Chief Justice

Jane Robinson has been mentioned previously. Jim Evans was a candidate for Family Court in 2014, and was appointed as an associate judge on the 507th Family Court in 2017, making him the first openly gay family court judge in Texas. He doesn’t have a campaign presence yet as far as I can tell.

Wally Kronzer – 14th Court of Appeals, Place 7
Tamika Craft – 14th Court of Appeals, Place 7
Cheri Thomas – 14th Court of Appeals, Place 7
V.R. Faulkner – 14th Court of Appeals, Place 7
Dominic Merino – 14th Court of Appeals, Place 7
Lennon Wright – 14th Court of Appeals, Place 7

Not sure why this court has attracted so many contestants, but here we are. Kronzer was the only candidate I knew of in that previous post; Cheri Thomas came along a bit later, and the others were all later in the filing period. Texas Judges can tell you some more about the ones that don’t have any campaign presence.

Harris County District Courts

The following lucky duckies have no opponents in the primary or the November general election:

Kristin Hawkins (11th Civil)
Kyle Carter (125th Civil)
Mike Englehart (151st Civil
Robert Schaffer (152nd Civil)
Hazel Jones (174th Criminal)
Kelli Johnson (178th Criminal)
Ramona Franklin (338th Criminal)

The next time you see them, congratulate them on their re-election. The following almost-as-lucky duckies are in a contested primary for the 337th Criminal Court, with the winner of the primary having no opponent in November:

Brennen Dunn, who had been in the primary for the 185th Criminal Court in 2018; see his Q&A here.
Colleen Gaido.
Veronica Sanders.
David Vuong
John A. Clark, whom I cannot positively identify. I hope everyone sends in Q&A responses, but I’m not voting for any candidate I can’t identify. I hope you’ll join me in that.

The following do not have a primary opponent, but do have a November opponent:

Fredericka Phillips (61st Civil).
RK Sandill (127th Civil), who in 2018 was a candidate for the Supreme Court.
Michael Gomez (129th Civil).
Jaclanel McFarland (133rd Civil)
Elaine Palmer (215th Civil).

Natalia Cornelio is currently unopposed in the primary for the 351st Criminal Court following the rejection of incumbent Judge George Powell’s application. That may change pending the outcome of Powell’s litigation in the matter.

The following races are contested in both March and November:

Larry Weiman (80th Civil, incumbent).
Jeralynn Manor (80th Civil).

Alexandra Smoots-Thomas (164th Civil, incumbent). Formerly Smoots-Hogan, now dealing with legal issues of her own.
Cheryl Elliott Thornton (164th Civil), who has run for Justice of the Peace and County Civil Court at Law in the past.
Grant Harvey (164th Civil).

Ursula Hall (165th Civil, incumbent).
Megan Daic (165th Civil).
Jimmie L. Brown, Jr. (165th Civil).

Nikita Harmon (176th Criminal, incumbent).
Bryan Acklin (176th Criminal).

Randy Roll (179th Criminal, incumbent).
Ana Martinez (179th Criminal).

Daryl Moore (333rd Civil, Incumbent).
Brittanye Morris (333rd Civil).

Steven Kirkland (334th Civil, incumbent). It’s not a Democratic primary without someone challenging Steve Kirkland.
Dawn Rogers (334th Civil).

Te’iva Bell (339th Criminal).
Candance White (339th Criminal).
Dennis Powell (339th Criminal), whom I cannot positively identify.
Lourdes Rodriguez (339th Criminal), whom I also cannot positively identify.

Julia Maldonado (507th Family, incumbent).
Robert Morales (507th Family).
CC “Sonny” Phillips (507th Family).

That about covers it. I should do a separate entry for JPs and Constables, and I did promise a Fort Bend entry. So there will likely be some more of this.

UPDATE: I missed Robert Johnson, the incumbent Judge of the 177th Criminal District Court (the court that now has Ken Paxton’s trial), in the first go-round. Johnson had an opponent file for the primary, but that application was subsequently rejected. He has no November opponent, so you can add him to the list of people who have been re-elected.