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Josefina Rendon

Judicial Q&A: Josefina Rendon

(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.)

Josefina Rendon

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

I am Judge Josefina Rendon. I’m running for the 165th District Court. I’m a transplanted Texas, having come to Houston as a teenager many years ago. I’ve been a lawyer & judge for over 30 years and a mediator, peacemaker & student-teacher of conflict resolution for over 20 years.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

A Civil District Court hears all kinds of Civil cases involving personal injury, commercial disputes, contracts, injunctions and many other disputes.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

I like being a judge because I can help people in court see the best of our system of justice and fairness. District Courts are important because they affect people’s lives, rights and livelihoods. Courts are where people go to seek justice, redress and resolution of their disputes. Having already been the judge of that District Court, I cannot think of a better way to insure that these principles are met.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

I have been a judge for many years. I was a State Civil District Judge for 4 years and a City of Houston Municipal Court Judge for 28 of the last 32 years. As an experienced trial judge I’ve had to make reasoned decisions that have affected people’s lives and livelihood. No less important, many years ago I discovered that, when encouraged and guided, the parties themselves often have the wisdom to resolve their own disputes without the judge imposing his or her decision. I also discovered that people tend to honor their agreements more often than they obey judicial orders. Because of that, for over 20 years I have also been a mediator, helping people resolve cases on their own rather than imposing, or having another judge impose, a decision. Having been both judge and mediator has given me a great insight on how to help the parties resolve their cases. Some cases are better resolved through mediation and others are better off by letting a judge or jury make the decision.

5. Why is this race important?

Because justice matters, or should matter, to all of us in life or death. All of our courts need judges who are not only aware of the law but who have a sense of balance, justice and compassion in dealing with parties from all walks of life. I believe I have all those qualities.

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

I have been not only a judge but a practicing lawyer and, even more important, a mediator and peacemaker. As a mediator – derived from the word “middle” – I have learned to truly be in the middle and not take sides while trying to get the parties to get their cases resolved and, at times, even achieve peace. As a judge I carefully and respectfully listen to all points of view and rule according to, not only the law, but according to what is just, fair and equitable. I also have worked hard all my life, with a sense of purpose, always trying to excel expectations and do the best job possible. I will do the same if elected.

Judicial Q&A: Josefina Rendon

(Note: As I have done in past elections, I am running a series of Q&As for Democratic judicial candidates on the November ballot. This is intended to help introduce the candidates and their experiences to those who plan to vote. I am running these responses in the order that I receive them from the candidates.)

Josefina Rendon

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

I am Judge Josefina Rendon. I’m running for Harris County’s probate Court #2. I’m a transplanted Texas having come to Houston as a teenager many years ago. I’ve been a lawyer & judge for over 30 yrs and a mediator, peacemaker & student-teacher of conflict resolution for over 20 yrs.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

A probate Court hears cases involving death with or without a will and inheritance issues. Probate Courts also hear case involving guardianships for adults who have become incapacitated.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

I gained interest in probate matters when I was 13 years old and my father asked me to “help” him with his will. He said he wanted me to “add up” the numbers. He also explained why he had made the choices he made in his will. I didn’t know at the time that he was dying. This was his indirect way of helping me understand his forthcoming passing. He died within the year. Since then I developed an empathy for those facing death & its consequences. I have also developed an empathy for those who are incapacitated and need good guardians to take care of them.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

I have been a judge for many years. I was a State Civil District Judge for 4 years and a City of Houston Municipal Court Judge for 27 of the last 31 years. As an experienced trial judge I’ve had to make reasoned decisions that have affected people’s lives and livelihood. No less important, many years ago I discovered that, when encouraged and guided, the parties themselves often have the wisdom to resolve their own disputes without the judge imposing his or her decision. I also discovered that people tend to honor their agreements more often than they obey judicial orders. Because of that, for over 20 years I have also been a mediator, helping people resolve cases on their own rather than imposing, or having another judge impose, a decision.

5. Why is this race important?

Because justice matters – or should matter – to all of us in life or death. All of our courts need judges who are not only aware of the law but who has a sense of balance, justice and compassion in dealing with parties from all walks of life.

6. Why should people vote for you in November?

I have been not only a judge but a practicing lawyer and, even more important, a mediator and peacemaker. As a mediator – derived from the word “middle” – I have learned to truly be in the middle and not take sides while trying to get the parties to reach peace and resolution between them. As a judge I carefully and respectfully listen to all points of view and rule according to, not only the law, but according to what is just, fair and equitable. I also have worked hard all my life, with a sense of purpose, always trying to excel expectations and do the best job possible.

Endorsement watch: Probate courts

The Chron makes its endorsements for Probate Courts, and as they have done recently stayed mostly with incumbents while having nice things to say about the challengers. The one Democrat they recommended out of the four races was as follows:

Jerry Simoneaux

Harris County Probate Court No. 3: Jerry Simoneaux

A former probate court staff attorney, Democratic challenger Jerry Simoneaux is the right choice for this bench. A certified mediator who has practiced probate law for 13 years, Simoneaux, 48, graduated from the South Texas College of Law.

Incumbent Republican Judge Rory Robert Olsen has presided over this court since 1999. With a law degree from Duke University, an LLM from Southern Methodist University and a Master of Judicial Studies from the University of Nevada, Olsen, 65, has become an expert on the bench when it comes to mental health issues in probate. A prolific writer on the topic, he has recently worked on an assisted-outpatient treatment program with the Mental Health and Mental Retardation Authority of Harris County. However, Olsen’s energy has begun to fade, and he has developed a reputation as an inconsistent judge. Voters should thank him for his years of service and send him out on a high note.

As it happens, Simoneaux is the one candidate out of four for whom I have not yet received Q&A responses. I previously published Q&As with James Horwitz and Kim Bohannon Hoesl, and will have one with Josefina Rendon next week.

In other endorsement news, the Chron also endorsed Big John Cornyn for re-election, in decidedly non-ringing fashion. Some choice quotes:

But voters should know that Cornyn is a Republican first and a Texan second. For a man who has served in elected office since 1986, Cornyn remains unfocused on issues of importance to Houston and the Gulf Coast.

Meeting with the Chronicle editorial board, it seemed as if coastal storm surge protection was a new topic for Texas’ senior senator. When asked about his position on the Ike Dike, Cornyn responded, “I don’t even know what that is.”

Discussing the nuances of exporting crude, Cornyn admitted, “I don’t pretend to understand these things.”

Way to make our alma mater proud, John. Elsewhere, the Star-Telegram joined the Sam Houston bandwagon, while the Dallas Morning News joined the chorus of Mike Collier fans. Let me quote a bit from the FWST piece, since it’s about as succinct a case against Ken Paxton as you’ll see:

The Republican nominee, lawyer and state Sen. Ken Paxton of McKinney, is undeserving of consideration.

Paxton was fined $1,000 and still may face a felony investigation.

In May, state securities regulators found Paxton sent clients to an investment firm without registering or disclosing his own paid role.

It happened three times. A 2012 violation is within the five-year statute of limitations.

Paxton should know better.

No candidate to lead “the people’s law firm” should ever have misled a client, a state board or the people of Texas.

Anyone want to argue with that? By the way, there apparently was a Ken Paxton sighting the other day, in which Paxton admitted in passive-voice fashion that he had indeed committed a crime but that he stands lawyered-up and ready to fight the charges against him when they are finally filed. If that’s not a compelling campaign story, I don’t know what is.

Finally, the DMN went red in the races for Land Commissioner, Ag Commissioner, and Railroad Commissioner, in the latter case because they valued industry experience more than not being another industry insider, in the former case because they naively think Baby Bush might somehow turn out to be Not That Kind Of Republican, and in the middle case for reasons unclear. Maybe Sid Miller was the only one that showed up, I dunno.