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Q&A

Where are the endorsements?

As you know, early voting has begun for the May 7 election, which includes two Constitutional amendments and the special election for HCC District 2. As of last night when I drafted this, I see no endorsements in any of these elections on the Chron’s opinion page. Are these elections not worth it to them, or have they just not gotten around to them yet? I sure hope it’s the latter, and that they will rectify that quickly. I don’t know what they’re waiting for.

Seventeen days after that election will be the primary runoffs. A quick check of the Erik Manning spreadsheet confirms for me that in all of the Democratic primary runoffs for which the Chron issued a March endorsement, their preferred candidate is still running. In ballot order:

CD38 – Duncan Klussman
Lt. Governor – Mike Collier
Attorney General – Joe Jaworski
Comptroller – Janet Dudding
Land Commissioner – Jay Kleberg
SBOE4 – Staci Childs
HD147 – Danielle Bess
185th Criminal Court – Judge Jason Luong
208th Criminal Court – Kim McTorry
Commissioners Court Precinct 4 – Lesley Briones

You may or may not agree with these, but those are who the Chron picked. They have no races to revisit among them. They do, however, have three more races to consider, which were among those they skipped in Round One:

312th Family Court – Judge Chip Wells vs Teresa Waldrop
County Civil Court at Law #4 – MK Singh vs Treasea Treviño
Justice of the Peace, Precinct 1 Place 2 – Steve Duble vs Sonia Lopez

The links are to my judicial Q&As for those who submitted responses. You can find all the Q&A and interview links from the primary here. More recently I interviewed Staci Childs and Coretta Mallet-Fontenot in SBOE4; I will have an interview with Janet Dudding on Monday. There’s no need to rush if the Chron wants to circle back to these races they ignored originally – they can wait till after the May 7 election, but not too long since early voting there will begin on May 16. It’s only three runoff races (*), plus those two Constitutional amendments and that one HCC race. C’mon, Chron editorial board, you can do this.

(*) There may be some Republican runoffs for them to revisit as well. I didn’t check and am obviously not as interested. I doubt most Republican runoff voters are either, so whatever. The HD147 special election is between the same two candidates as in the primary runoff, so we can assume the endorsement for one carries over to the other.

Judicial Q&A: Beverly Armstrong

(Note: As I have done in past elections, I am running a series of Q&As for judicial candidates in contested Democratic primaries. This was intended to help introduce the candidates and their experiences to those who plan to vote in March, and I have extended it for the May runoffs. I am running these responses in the order that I receive them from the candidates. Much more information about Democratic primary candidates, including links to the interviews and judicial Q&As, can be found on Erik Manning’s spreadsheet.

Beverly Armstrong

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

I am Beverly Armstrong. I am running for Judge of the 208th Criminal District Court. I have been a resident of Harris County for more than 30 years. I moved here after graduating from Prairie View A&M University with a BS degree in Civil Engineering. I attended the part time program at South Texas College of Law in downtown Houston while working full time. When I’m not serving as a public servant, I serve on the communion steward and finance committees at my church, Jones United Methodist Church. My husband and I started our family here and have raised two children who attended schools in Harris County.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

The 208th Criminal District Court hears all levels of felony cases. This includes State Jail Felonies, 1st through 3rd degree felonies and capital felony cases.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

I’m running for this bench because too many habitual, violent offenders were being released on low (lowered) bonds by this court And because this court was not holding trials to bring justice to the accused and for the accuser.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

I have been a licensed attorney for 25 years. I’ve been a prosecutor for 15 years. I started my prosecution career in Polk County. I spent 3 years in the Galveston County District Attorneys Office where I served as Court Chief in the 212th and 10th Criminal District Courts and Chief of the Child Abuse Division. I was asked to return to Polk County to serve as the First Assistant Criminal District Attorney, where I currently serve. Over the course of my criminal law career, I have handled more than 2000 cases from misdemeanor thefts to murder. I have been the led attorney handling cases from grand jury to trial for numerous felony cases including aggravated robbery, child sexual assault and murders. I supervise a staff of secretaries, investigators and prosecutors. I’ve prepared numerous appellate briefs and I have successfully argued before the 9th court of appeals. Additionally, I served as a faculty advisor at the Prosecutor Trials Skills Course held by the Texas District and County Attorneys Association.

5. Why is this race important?

This court handles the most serious criminal cases in the county. It’s imperative that the most qualified candidate is seated for this court. Additionally, the judge of this court needs a proven track record of implementing tools to help promote fairness and justice for all parties in the courtroom.

6. Why should people vote for you in May?

People should vote for me because experience matters. I am the most experienced candidate in this race. I am ready to handle any types of case that is on the docket on day one. I am the only candidate that has handled every type of case this court hears. I have a proven record of fighting against the release of repeat violent offenders while demonstrating compassion for non violent offenders who need a second chance. I have worked with agencies to find mental health programs, parenting skills programs and drug rehabilitation programs to give offenders the tools needed to become successful members of our community as opposed to repeat offenders. I will show up ready to work. I will respect the attorneys time and the time of the community before my court. I will bring fairness, integrity and experience to the courtroom. I am committed to the protection of the community in the courtroom and outside of the courtroom.

Judicial Q&A: Judge Dedra Davis

(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. Much more information about Democratic primary candidates, including links to the interviews and judicial Q&As, can be found on Erik Manning’s spreadsheet. One more late entrant for the series.

Judge Dedra Davis

1. Who are you and in which court do you preside?

I am Judge Dedra Davis. I preside with great pride over the 270th Civil District Court.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

I have the pleasure of presiding over a plethora of cases. As a Civil District Court judge, I hear matters dealing with Structured Settlements, Minor Settlement hearings, Expunctions, Employment disputes, Jones Act disputes, tax disputes, personal injury matters, and a host of other important and potentially life-changing matters.

3. What have been your main accomplishments during your time on this bench?

I have had exceptional results since having the honor of serving as the presiding judge of the 270th Court. To quote William Ewart Gladstone, “access delayed is access denied.” As an entrepreneur for over 22 years, I developed strong survival skills that have actually served me well in my role as presiding judge of the 270th Court.

1) In 2019, I implemented a telephone docket. Many of the civil court judges were having to share courtrooms with the criminal court judges and with other civil court judges and there was no where to have trials or hearings in a timely manner.
2) In 2019, I was the only court, of the 24 Civil District Courts in Harris County, that allowed virtual appearances via CourtCall. No matter where a person was, they had access to justice.
3) In 2019, I opened the doors to the 270th court to school field trips. I have had over 1000 students visit the 270th court, sit on the judge’s bench, hit the gavel, give an order, and get pictures galore. We discussed jobs at the courthouse, setting goals and having dreams.
4) In 2020, when the courthouse closed due to Covid19, I immediately began hold virtual hearings via Zoom, once the service was provided.
5) In 2020, when the courthouse closed due to Covid19, I held virtual trials. As an entrepreneur, I focused on what I COULD do and not what I could NOT do. Even though no juries were being called to duty, the court still had many trials that COULD be held and heard. I was able to get 45 trials to verdict! I finished 2020 with 52 trials to verdict! Number 1, of the 24 Civil District Courts, in trials to verdict that year!
6) In 2021, when the District Clerk’s office got a system in place to do virtual jury calls, I began doing virtual juries. I am the only District Court judge in Harris County, of the 60, that is has been holding virtual jury trials with 12 jurors. This has had an monumental affect on justice being served. I’ve had parties in Scotland, France, and other parts of the world get their day in court, Covid19 Free.
7) Instead of hearing motions only 1 day a week, I changed the court’s practice and now matters are heard 5 days a week. This practice has allowed the court to maintain one of the lowest inventories of the 24 Civil District courts.
8) I changed the “official record” of 270th Court proceedings to a more efficient and cost effective system. Lawyers and litigants no longer have to call and beg for the “official record” of the court. Lawyers no longer have to pay thousands of dollars for the “official record” of the court. They now receive the “official record” of the 270th Court FOR FREE and within 15 minutes of the end of the proceeding. I recognize that all clients and lawyers do not have the resources to pay for the “official record,” and justice was being denied.
9) I require lawyers requesting hearings to be heard to schedule them within 30 days, if law allows. No more waiting months to get a hearing.
10) I demand WORLD CLASS customer service be given to any and everyone that does business with the 270th Court. Good or great customer service is just not enough.
11) I have opened the court to internships for over 30 law students, paralegals, college students and high school students. Majority are volunteers that are trying to learn about the courts and being a judge. Fueling the future.
12) I created an Expunction seminar that I give all across Texas.
13) I created a seminar entitled “How To Become A Judge,” that I have presented all across the USA to law students and pre-law students.
14) I have many more accomplishments since taking the bench in 2019. I just listed a few.

4. What do you hope to accomplish in your courtroom going forward?

I have a PROVEN record. I have and will continue to make sure law and order equals justice.
I have already implemented new policies and procedures that have drastically changed the access to, as well as the efficiency of, the 270th
Court.
I have a PROVEN record. I have and will continue to treat all parties in the court equally. All trials need to be heard, not just the ones where the party can afford to pay a fee for a jury. As the presiding judge of the 270th court, I have a responsibility and a duty to serve all the parties. I refuse to discriminate against a party just because they can’t pay a jury fee.
As you may be aware, when the party files a lawsuit, that party decides if the case will be heard as a jury trial or a nonjury trial. If the party wants it to be a jury trial, the party will pay the jury fee. The parties in the case 100% decide if they want a jury to hear their case or if they want a judge to hear their case, all the way up to 30 days before the date of trial.
I have a PROVEN record. I have and will continue to be innovative, creative in serving the citizens of Harris County. I am dedicated.

5. Why is this race important?

This race is important for many reasons. One reason this race is important is because truth and honor are a huge part of the job. When I pulled the 1/1/2019 to 2/13/2022 report, it reflected that I had 88 nonjury trials and 16 jury trials to verdict, that is over 100 trials to verdict. I have been consistently sharing the correct number of trials to verdict, jury and nonjury. There is no room for mistake or confusion.

Another reason this race is important is because the citizens deserve a judge with sound legal judgment. Two occasions when my rulings were taken to the Texas Supreme Court, my rulings were upheld. In one case, two different Courts Of Appeals (6 justices) and the Texas Supreme Court (9 justices) all upheld my decision. That’s 15 justices that upheld my opinion. Sound legal judgment.
PROVEN.

6. Why should people vote for you in March?

I have over 35 years of legal experience.
I have almost 10 years as a civil litigation paralegal and more than 25 years as an attorney doing litigation and transactional work. I have over 20 years as a Certified Mediator, specializing in civil litigation.
I bring a broad knowledge of the system and the law.
I bring an expertise that is incredibly necessary for the position. Tunnel vision from one perspective is not an ideal trait for a presiding judge.
I have over 3 years as the presiding judge of the 270th Court and have made incredible improvements.
Justice. Fairness. Equality. Judicial temperament.
I am an award winning judge. The Houston Lawyers Association recognized my work and presented me with a “Judicial Service” award. The Texas Bar Foundation, a prestigious organization of elite attorneys, voted me in as a “Fellow.” I am now a “Lifetime Fellow” of the Texas Bar Foundation.

The voters in Harris County do not have to GUESS if I will perform. They have a PROVEN track record that shows I am devoted, driven, dedicated, creative and innovative. No guessing necessary.

The people should vote for me because litigants deserve a leader, not a follower.
If I followed everyone else, I would not be the only District Court in Harris County providing an 100% free Covid19 environment for jury trials.
I would not be the only District Court in Harris County that gives the litigants the “official record” of the court FOR FREE, and within minutes of the end of the proceeding.
The people should vote for me because I have PROVEN that I an innovative and creative.
I have PROVEN that I am a hard worker that thinks outside the box.
I have PROVEN that the citizens and the community are of the utmost importance to me as the presiding judge of the 270th Civil District Court. PROVEN, no guessing necessary.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve.

Judicial Q&A: Denise Brown

(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. Much more information about Democratic primary candidates, including links to the interviews and judicial Q&As, can be found on Erik Manning’s spreadsheet. This is one of two late entrants I am running today.

Denise Brown

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

I am Denise Brown. I’m running to be judge of the 270th Judicial District Court of Harris County.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

The 270th Civil District Court hears all matters except criminal, family, juvenile, and probate. The civil courts handle every type of case from personal injury to employment, defamation, and tax cases, but does not handle criminal, family, or probate cases. The court handles cases involving $200+ in dispute.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

Being a trial lawyer and litigator means I know the value of a jury trial. My clients depend on jury trials to have their cases decided. When a judge fails to hold jury trials, the people of Harris County are affected. To date, there have only been 9 jury trials since January 1, 2019 according to the District Clerk’s website. Judges should be held to the highest levels of honesty and ethics. I will bring integrity to this court so the people of Harris County know what I am saying is the actual truth. I am also running so there is equality in this court. Litigants, attorneys, witnesses, jurors, and members of the public will get equal treatment in my court and not have to wonder if they will get a fair trial.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

I have been a licensed attorney for more than 21 years. I am a litigator and trial attorney. I’ve handled multiple bench and jury trials representing both plaintiffs and defendants. I have handled cases from motor vehicle wrecks to complex fraud and breach of contract cases to Dram Shop to construction defect to DTPA. A judge should have trial experience before becoming a trial judge.

5. Why is this race important?

Jury trials are the backbone of our judicial system. Without them, cases come to a standstill and parties are denied justice. As a litigator and trial lawyer for more than 21 years, I am not afraid of jury trials. A trial setting motivates parties to resolve a case without the need of a jury. Cases that cannot be resolved are then able to have their day in court and reach a resolution. Since January 1, 2019, there has only been 7 jury trials in the 270th District Court. Not having jury trials is simply unacceptable for this court. I will ensure that the court is managed efficiently and access to justice is available to all parties.

Judges should be held to the highest levels of integrity, honesty, and ethics. Representations made by a judge or on behalf of the court must be truthful, accurate, and beyond reproach. From denying litigants the right to trial by jury (https://search.txcourts.gov/SearchMedia.aspx?MediaVersionID=14723357-
f7cc-4f74-95b4-aace505320b6&coa=coa01&DT=Opinion&MediaID=c8f87cd1-9515-414c-a1b4-56dbfbd330a9) to publicly commenting on cases pending before the Court, the 270th needs someone who believes the rules apply not only to the parties and attorneys but also to the judge. I will restore the 270th to a respectable and honorable court.

Everyone who appears in front of the Court must be treated equally, with respect and dignity, and the knowledge that they will get a fair hearing or trial, regardless of what they look like, where they come from, who they love, or what their beliefs are.

6. Why should people vote for you in March?

I am the best candidate for the position. A trial judge should have litigation and trial experience before taking the bench. I am the only candidate who has that experience. My background with both plaintiffs and defendants gives me a unique perspective as I understand the challenges faced by each bar as litigation proceeds as well as preparing and trying a case. By bringing efficiency, integrity, and equality to the 270 th , I will raise the level of decorum and dignity in this Court to where Harris County deserves. I am the most qualified person to be judge of the 270th .

Judicial Q&A: Gemayel Hayes

(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. Much more information about Democratic primary candidates, including links to the interviews and judicial Q&As, can be found on Erik Manning’s spreadsheet. This is one of two late entrants I am running today.

Gemayel Haynes

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

I am Gemayel Haynes, and I am running to be the next Judge for the 183rd District Court in Harris County, Texas.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

The 183rd Criminal District Court handles criminal cases ranging from low level state jail felonies to capital murder. The range of punishment for these cases is anywhere from 6 months in a state jail to life in prison or death.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

I am running for the 183rd Criminal District Court because I believe a Judge who presides over a felony criminal court should be an experienced criminal attorney. My opponent never practiced criminal law before he took the bench in 2019, but I have done nothing but criminal law for almost 15 years. Inexperience can lead to decisions that harm the accused, the victims, and the community.

I also chose the 183rd District Court because it is closed every Friday during a historic backlog of pending felony cases. A closed courtroom causes unreasonable and unnecessary delays in justice for crime victims and the accused. My opponent inherited the lowest court docket in 2019 but the docket numbers have more than doubled due to frequently closed courtroom and lack of trials.

Finally, I want to restore trust and confidence in the criminal justice system. We should have a court that is efficient, transparent, and most importantly, fair to all. I believe every person that appears in court is a human being and deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

I have almost 15 years of criminal trial experience. I began my career as a prosecutor for the Harris County District Attorney’s Office. I worked in the felony, misdemeanor, juvenile and justice of the peace divisions, and I had jury trials on everything from class c tickets to murder cases. After I left the DA’s office, I opened my own law office. I represented juveniles and adults charged with misdemeanor and felony offenses in Harris, Chambers, Fort Bend, and Harris counties. I had jury trials on misdemeanor and felony offenses. I also worked on three capital cases, including a death penalty case, as part of a team of lawyers.

I am now an Assistant Public Defender serving as Senior Litigator and Team Lead in the Felony Trial Division of the Harris County Public Defender’s Office. In this role I supervise a team of eight lawyers, I mentor other lawyers in our office, and I represent indigent clients charged with first and second-degree felonies. I am in trial, either as first chair on my own clients’ cases or a second chair with younger lawyers, several times a year on everything ranging from state jail felonies to first degree murder and sex cases. I teach Continuing Legal Education (CLE) classes to criminal lawyers locally and across the state on various topics including bail, pretrial investigation, search and seizure, revocation and adjudication hearings, trial prep, trial strategy, and sentencing issues. During my career I have also taken hundreds of hours of CLEs directly related to criminal law. I have also been a board member of the Harris County Criminal Lawyers
Association since 2014.

5. Why is this race important?

This race is important because the criminal justice system is getting a lot of attention. The community can’t afford to have inexperienced criminal judges. I believe in smart bail reform that protects the community and respects the right of those accused of crimes. We need judges who will be fair to all, ensure due process rights are protected, and hold people accountable for their actions. The public deserves judges that aren’t learning criminal law while making decisions that have a major impact on lives.

6. Why should people vote for you in March?

People should vote for me in the Democratic Primary Election because I am the most experienced and most qualified candidate in this race. My opponent was a civil attorney for over 30 years before he was elected to the felony criminal bench. As a public defender, I fight to protect the Constitutional and legal rights of people accused of crimes. As a prosecutor I worked with the police to protect Harris County citizens and seek justice for crime victims. I am the only candidate in this race who has represented the State and the accused in criminal court, and I am the only candidate with jury trial experience on both sides of the aisle. Serving as a prosecutor and public defender has given me the perspective and experience that is currently missing from this Court.

The criminal justice system has failed far too many crime victims and people accused of crimes. If elected, I want to use my knowledge and experience to address deficiencies in the system and restore trust between the community we serve and the courts. I will work to make the Court more transparent, accessible, efficient, and fair for all.

Final roundup of interviews and judicial Q&As

Here they all are. As noted, I may return to some races for the runoff. For now, this is what we have. As a reminder, much more information about Democratic primary candidates, including links to the interviews and judicial Q&As, can be found on Erik Manning’s spreadsheet. Vote well.

Interviews

Duncan Klussman, CD38
Diana Martinez Alexander, CD38

Jinny Suh, Land Commissioner
Jay Kleberg, Land Commissioner

Sen. John Whitmire, SD15
Molly Cook, SD15

Aurelia Wagner, HD147
Danielle Bess, HD147
Jolanda Jones, HD147
Nam Subramanian, HD147
Reagan Flowers, HD147

Candis Houston, HD142
Chase West, HD132

Ben Chou, Harris County Commissioners Court Precinct 4
Ann Williams, Harris County Commissioners Court Precinct 4
Gina Calanni, Harris County Commissioners Court Precinct 4
Lesley Briones, Harris County Commissioners Court Precinct 4
Clarence Miller, Harris County Commissioners Court Precinct 4

Dylan Osborne, Harris County Treasurer (Incumbent)
Carla Wyatt, Harris County Treasurer
Marilyn Burgess, Harris County District Clerk (Incumbent)
Desiree Broadnax, Harris County District Clerk

Judicial Q&As

Kyle Carter, 14th Court of Appeals, Place 2
Cheri Thomas, 14th Court of Appeals, Place 2

Judge Chuck Silverman, 183rd Criminal District Court
Judge Abigail Anastasio, 184th Criminal District Court
Katherine Thomas, 184th Criminal District Court
Judge Jason Luong, 184th Criminal District Court
Andrea Beall, 185th Criminal District Court
Lema Barazi, 189th Civil District Court
Judge Scott Dollinger, 189th Civil District Court
Judge Greg Glass, 208th Criminal District Court
Kim McTorry, 208th Criminal District Court
Samuel Milledge, 228th Criminal District Court
Judge Chris Morton, 230th Criminal District Court
Judge Tristan Longino, 245th Family District Court
Angela Lancelin, 245th Family District Court
Judge Hilary Unger, 248th Criminal District Court
Judge Amy Martin, 263rd Criminal District Court
Dianne Curvey, 280th Family District Court
Judge Barbara Stalder, 280th Family District Court
Judge Chip Wells, 312th Family District Court
Teresa Waldrop, 312th Family District Court
Paul Calzada, 312th Family District Court
Judge Natalia Oakes, 313th Family District Court
Glenda Duru, 313th Family District Court
Judge Leah Shapiro, 313th Family District Court
Ieshia Champs, 315th Family District Court
Alycia Harvey, 482nd Criminal District Court
Veronica Monique Nelson, 482nd Criminal District Court

David Patronella, County Civil Court At Law #4
Manpreet Monica Singh, County Civil Court At Law #4
Treasea Treviño, County Civil Court At Law #4
Porscha Natasha Brown, County Criminal Court At Law #3
Judge Kelley Andrews, County Criminal Court At Law #6
Judge Andrew Wright, County Criminal Court At Law #7
Erika Ramirez, County Criminal Court At Law #8
Judge David Singer, County Criminal Court At Law #14
Judge Michael Newman, County Probate Court #2

Chris Watson, Justice of the Peace, Precinct 1 Place 2
Steve Duble, Justice of the Peace, Precinct 1 Place 2
Ron Campana, Justice of the Peace, Precinct 1 Place 2
Blair McClure, Justice of the Peace, Precinct 2 Place 2
Dolores Lozano, Justice of the Peace, Precinct 2 Place 2
Judge Lucia Bates, Justice of the Peace, Precinct 3 Place 2
Herbert Alexander Sanchez, Justice of the Peace, Precinct 3 Place 2
Ashleigh Roberson, Justice of the Peace, Precinct 3 Place 2

UPDATE: Naturally, I woke up this morning to see another set of Q&A responses in my inbox. They will run tomorrow.

Judicial Q&A: Treasea Treviño

(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. Much more information about Democratic primary candidates, including links to the interviews and judicial Q&As, can be found on Erik Manning’s spreadsheet.

Treasea Treviño

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

My name is Treasea Treviño and I am running to be the Democratic Candidate for Judge of the Harris County Civil Court at Law No. 4.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

The Harris County Courts at Law have jurisdiction in appeals of civil cases from justice courts in Harris County including evictions. These courts have jurisdiction over statutory eminent domain proceedings, any civil matter where the amount of controversy is less than $250,000. It decides matters regarding title to real or personal property, enforcement of liens on real property, and have exclusive jurisdiction over inverse condemnation suits.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

As you know, the pandemic has affected the underprivileged the most, with many working families struggling to stay afloat, keep a roof over their heads, and food on the table. I decided to run for this bench specifically to help such working families. One of the most important tasks of the Civil Courts at Law is to hear eviction appeals and I want to ensure that everyone who is facing eviction will be treated fairly and have the opportunity to be heard regardless of their socioeconomic status.

This race is also important for demographic reasons. If I am elected, I will be the only Latina Civil Court at Law judge, with over 43% of Harris County’s population being Latino, it is important for Latinos to have representation at every level of the judiciary.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

I have been a practicing attorney for over 14 years and have tried over 700 cases during that time. I have spent six years as Assistant Attorney General and six years as assistant county attorney my time practicing law has been devoted to public service and defending the wellbeing of Harris County’s residents. I have vast experience dealing with multiple parties, I am bilingual and my experience as a trial lawyer will allow me to hit the ground running from day one.

5. Why is this race important?

This race is important because this court will be making important decisions regarding eviction appeals and because it is a bench that needs a judge committed to service, a judge who is efficient, follows the law, is fair and will utilize her discretion for the benefit of the residents of Harris County.

6. Why should people vote for you in March?

I know that my professional experience coupled with my life experience, make me the most qualified candidate for this open bench. I am the one who has the most trial experience, in the past 14 years I have been at the courthouse almost every day trying cases, involving complex issues and multiple parties. Also, because I am hard worker, determined, and I have good judicial temperament which would allow me to be a good judge.

Judicial Q&A: Judge Amy Martin

(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. Much more information about Democratic primary candidates, including links to the interviews and judicial Q&As, can be found on Erik Manning’s spreadsheet.

Judge Amy Martin

1. Who are you and in which court do you preside?

I am Judge Amy Martin and I preside over the 263rd Criminal District Court of Harris County.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

I hear state felony-level criminal cases.

3. What have been your main accomplishments during your time on this bench?

One of my most significant accomplishments has been to reduce the relative size of the docket since I was elected. When I took the bench, the 263rd had the highest case load among the 22 District Courts. Now, it is one of the 10 smallest dockets among the 23 District Courts (an additional court was added last year).

Improvement in my court’s efficiency was accomplished despite initially only having access to a criminal courthouse every other week, then having to share courtroom with 2 other judges, and ultimately having exclusive use of a courtroom, but without a jury room.

I have increased the number of successfully completed probations and deferred adjudications by 20% through the thoughtful use of tailored probation conditions that are meant to help an individual to improve their life and end their involvement with the criminal justice system. I have utilized specialty courts such as the STAR Court, Veteran’s Court, and Mental Health Court to address the specific needs of individuals that have found themselves in the legal system because of particular issues.

In my court, a defendant’s appearance is waived in most circumstances to minimize the unnecessary negative impact on a defendant who may have to take time off of work, obtain childcare, and find transportation downtown. I have changed the practice in my court to resetting cases for at least 60 days (often longer) between settings. Traditionally, the time between settings has been 30 days. At the same time, I require the attorneys on both sides to meet and make substantive progress on resolving the case.

4. What do you hope to accomplish in your courtroom going forward?

I hope to continue to make my court the model in Harris County for adjudicating criminal cases with efficiency, fairness, and compassion. When public health circumstances and courtroom space allow, I would like to implement a more structured case management plan to reduce the number of unnecessary court appearances and have a uniform schedule for which particular tasks need to be completed by the attorneys in each case. I hope to continue to increase the use of diversion programs, explore creative options for effective dispositions of cases, and to assist defendants on bond to find programs to participate in so they can be productive while their case is pending.

5. Why is this race important?

Everyone in our community is affected by what happens in my court. The 263rd Criminal District Court handles the most serious criminal cases in Texas, including capital murder. There is no other setting in which Constitutional principles are more important. Crime rates across the country continue to rise amid a global pandemic. In Harris County we are still working on fixing the criminal courthouse from Hurricane Harvey and we have woefully too few district courts for our population explosion over the last three decades.

Even during this time of unprecedented challenges, under my supervision, the 263rd has become a more efficient, accessible, and considerate court. This race is important because Harris County voters have the opportunity to allow me to continue to improve our criminal justice system. I’m committed to using my 3 years of hard-earned experience to continue to innovate the court and protect the community.

6. Why should people vote for you in March?

Experience matters. I have more experience both as a lawyer and as a judge than any of my opponents, Democratic or Republican. I have earned endorsements, previously and during this primary cycle, from diverse organizations across the political spectrum.

Organizations have endorsed me repeatedly because I have not only improved the productivity metrics of the 263rd , but the courtroom culture as well. Anyone who visits my courtroom can see that I treat all parties with respect and that my number one priority is the fair treatment of everyone who appears before me.

As a member of the Criminal District Court Judges’ Fair Defense Act Management System (FDAMS) committee I have worked to ensure that the Harris County felony attorney appointment process is compliant with Texas law and local policy, and that there are well-established qualification requirements for attorneys who take felony court appointments.

I am on the committee responsible for the hiring and termination of the Harris County Magistrates as well the Associate Judges Hiring Committee, the group that is responsible for creating the standards, application process, and supervisory plan for the newly created positions of Associate Judge. I choose to be on committees such as these to participate in improving the Harris County criminal justice system as a whole, not just my court.

It has been an honor to serve Harris County as a District Court Judge and I hope the voters will give me the opportunity to continue to improve the 263rd District Court, the local administration of justice, and our community. My record shows that I am dedicated to public service and I will continue work hard if given the privilege of being re-elected.

Judicial Q&A: Judge Jason Luong

(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. Much more information about Democratic primary candidates, including links to the interviews and judicial Q&As, can be found on Erik Manning’s spreadsheet.

Judge Jason Luong

1. Who are you and in which court do you preside?

My name is Jason Luong, and I am the incumbent Democratic Judge of the 185th Criminal District Court in Harris County, a felony district court. I have over 21 years of legal experience as a prosecutor, a criminal defense attorney and a judge. My wife is a Marine Corps veteran and former intelligence analyst. My oldest daughter attends St. Martha Catholic School and formerly trained with the Houston Ballet. I also have a 2-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son. My son is destined to be fighter pilot and astronaut. I am fairly certain that my youngest daughter will one day be elected as the Harris County District Attorney. I come from a family of public servants. My father worked for the City of Houston for over 20 years. My mother worked for the Houston Police Department for over 20 years. I am also the Presiding Judge of Harris County’s Felony Veterans Treatment Court.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

The 185th Criminal District Court handles felony criminal charges, where the range of punishment can range from 6 months in the state jail all the way to life in prison or the death penalty. Drug charges, assaults involving a deadly weapon or serious bodily injuries, third time DWI’s, homicide, sex assault cases and crimes against children are just a few examples of the felony offenses that this court hears.

Felony Veterans Treatment Court is a specialty court that handles cases involving veterans who suffer from service-connected PTSD, traumatic brain injury or addiction and have serious felony charges that relate to service-connected disability. The mission of this court is to increase access to mental health and addiction treatment for those veterans with felony offenses. This court seeks to divert veterans from prison to into VA treatment, reducing jail time, costs, and criminal recidivism, while improving mental health recovery and successful re-entry into the community.  

3. What have been your main accomplishments during your time on this bench?

When I first took the bench, I (and the other judge) faced unprecedented challenges from not having a permanent courtroom because of the damage to the criminal courthouse due to Hurricane Harvey to a pandemic that shut down jury trials and limited court proceedings for several months. I successfully navigated the 185th through these challenges while still having jury trials and expanding public access to our courts. As we head out of the pandemic, our court’s clearance rate has increased dramatically month over month and has been well over 100% for the past several months, and sometimes as high as 115%.

One of my proudest accomplishments as a new judge and as the new Chair of the Harris County Criminal District Court’s Bail Bond Committee is that I have overhauled the way that bond violations are handled by the district court. Previously, notices of bond violations went only to the judge, which gave the judge inordinate power and judges often revoked defendant’s bonds without a hearing. Now notices of bond violations are sent to the prosecutors as well as defense attorneys, making the process more transparent and fairer. It also gives the court the tools to more immediately and effectively address bond violations, keeping our communities safer while still ensuring that bonds are fair to indigent and low-income defendants.

I am also very proud of my work as the Veterans Treatment Court judge. I am only the third judge to ever preside over this court. This program literally saves veterans lives. Veterans in our program are often suicidal, self-medicating, and/or a danger to themselves and their families. Veterans Treatment Court is a collaborative effort involving a team of over a dozen professionals including VA psychiatrists to develop an individualized treatment plan to help that veteran get the mental health or addiction treatment he or she needs. Though these services are provided through our criminal court proceeding and often results in the veteran avoiding a felony conviction, the main goal is to allow the veteran to re-connect with the community and his or her families and loved ones.

4. What do you hope to accomplish in your courtroom going forward?

I hope to build on the reforms that we started in 2019, especially in terms of how our criminal district courts operate. COVID taught us that there are much more efficient was to run our courts than requiring persons miss work and come to court once a month. We have expanded court proceedings to allow people to attend court by zoom or to have their appearance waived for non-essential court settings. I also hope that my court and all criminal courts have expanded access to mental health services for all defendants, including when they are on bond. The Harris County criminal court is the single largest provider of mental health services in the state. Many of these individuals do not get consistent and reliable mental health services. I would like to work on expanding the availability of mental health services to all persons charged with a felony offense, including having services when they are on bond.

5. Why is this race important?

This race is important because our criminal courts are important. Harris County is one of the most important criminal jurisdictions in the country. The 185th District Court handles the most serious criminal offenses, including crimes against children, serious drug cases, and murder.

This race is a chance for the citizens of Harris County to elect a judge who has the experience and temperament necessary for this high office. Furthermore, it is a chance to ensure that our criminal courts reflect the diversity of Harris County. I am the first and only Asian American elected as a criminal district court judge in the history of Harris County. Diversity matters for our courts. People will always be distrustful of law enforcement and the criminal justice system if they do not see any diversity in the positions of power. If Harris County wants to be a 21st century county, its courts need to reflect the strength and diversity of its communities.

6. Why should people vote for you in March?

The people of Harris County should vote for me because I am the most qualified candidate in this race. I have over 21 years of legal experience—three times as much experience as any of my opponents. I am the only candidate in this race who has experience prosecutor, criminal defense attorney, and a judge. Also, I have shown through my time of the bench that I have the work ethic, character and judicial temperament make me the best candidate for this court. Finally, because of my good work and qualifications, I have received the endorsement of almost every organization endorsing candidates in this race from the Houston Chronicle to the Houston Black American Democrats to the Houston Association of Women Attorneys to the Mexican American Bar Association of Houston. Simply put, though my opponents are each accomplished young trial attorneys with some good ideas, I am by far the most qualified candidate for this court.

Judicial Q&A: Judge Leah Shapiro

(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. Much more information about Democratic primary candidates, including links to the interviews and judicial Q&As, can be found on Erik Manning’s spreadsheet.

Judge Leah Shapiro

1. Who are you and in which court do you preside?

Judge Leah Shapiro presiding over the 315th District Court.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

The 315th District Court is one of the only three district courts in all of Harris County handling juvenile delinquency and dependency matters. With dependency matters, the 315th District Court hears cases when there are allegations of abuse and neglect of a child. The 315th District Court also handles delinquency matters, when a child is accused of committing a criminal offense between the ages of 10 and 17. The 315th also presides over marriages and adoptions for all families, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The 315th District Court presides over two specialty courts in Harris County, Court 360 (the juvenile mental health court), and the C.A.R.E. Court (the juvenile sex trafficking court)—of which I was a founding member in 2011. C.A.R.E. (Creating Acceptance Recovery Empowerment Court) Court serves youth identified as being actively engaged in or at risk of becoming involved in commercial sexual exploitation/sex trafficking by offering specialized supervision and therapeutic services. C.A.R.E. Court works to address the underlying trauma associated with each youth’s at-risk behaviors. Court 360 focuses on helping youth with a diagnoses and their families in identifying and addressing youths’ underlying mental health concerns associated with their at-risk behaviors.

The 315th District Court has a Dual Status Docket dedicated to meet the specific needs for youth who are in the custody of the State of Texas (CPS) and involved in the juvenile justice system (additional information below).

3. What have been your main accomplishments during your time on this bench?

I am relentless in my pursuit of equity and fairness in the courtroom, a course I intend to stay if re-elected, often working against the inertia of the system. For example, shortly after taking office I immediately moved against entrenched systems and ended indiscriminate shackling of youth in the courtroom, the decades-old practice in our county in which detained youth, no matter their age or charge, appear in court in “all-fours”—with hands in cuffs, feet shackled together, both connected by a chain between. Everyone should appear before the court with the same dignity and respect, and that’s why I ended the practice for detained youth in 315th District Court.

The 315th District Court piloted and now maintains the only Dual Status Docket in Harris County—a docket designed to meet the specific needs for youth who are in the custody of the State of Texas (CPS) and involved in the juvenile justice system. Dually involved youth are some of our most vulnerable youth, with increased likelihood of recidivism and homelessness. We dedicate a docket to their needs, hear from them directly with both teams present to ensure maximum collaboration, and guarantee that youth voices are heard and that we hold agencies accountable. This specialized Dual Status Docket eliminates duplicate services, provides individual hearings with all stakeholders, and increases overall system accountability.

Since taking the bench three years ago, the court has reduced the active case docket by half when it comes to dependency matters, with allegations of abuse and neglect of children.  This means that not only are we efficiently handling the new cases assigned to the court, but we are also addressing the backlog inherited in 2019.  As such, families are getting resolutions in a timely manner and children are more quickly connecting with their forever families.

I have used my experience to reduce pre-adjudication detentions and disposed of the most felony delinquency cases with the lowest percentage dispositions to Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD). That means we are keeping kids in their homes and closer to home and integrating their families in their rehabilitation. We accomplished this during a pandemic, with appropriate safety measures, because of my dedication and diligence to keeping the 315th District Court open and accessible to continue to serve the residents of Harris County.

I also understand the court system’s duty to taxpayers, which is why I responsibly stewarded Harris County tax dollars by leading all Juvenile District Courts in appointments to the Public Defender’s Office.

4. What do you hope to accomplish in your courtroom going forward?

I have been working on establishing a court in the community. Through practices learned during COVID, the courts have an opportunity to eliminate the traditional party appearances and allow greater access to justice. The court is exploring, with partners in the Fifth Ward and the Center for Urban Transformation, Harris County District Clerk, Constable Pct. 1, District Attorney’s Office, Harris County Juvenile Probation Department, Harris County Public Defender’s Office, and other stakeholders the possibility of holding court in the evening with the remote appearances from a JP courts or location within the neighborhood. This would eliminate the cost of transportation, parking, and reduce time families spend attending court. In addition, remote appearances can reduce the negative impact system involvement has on a youth’s education. The child will no longer miss a day of school due to a court setting.

5. Why is this race important?

A better justice system creates safer and stronger communities. The decisions made in the court directly impact the individuals involved, families, and our community. We have made amazing improvements in court efficiency, access to justice and the treatment of individuals who are system involved. There is work to be done. Children and families deserve a judge who has experience in the law and understands systems to continue to make positive changes for those the court serves.

6. Why should people vote for you in March?

With 10+ years in juvenile justice and 15+ years of public service to the justice system in Harris County—as a judge, public defender, and prosecutor—I have the experience, knowledge, and legal understanding to continue to advance both delinquency and dependency issues, to positively impact system practices, and to change the approach of how we address the needs of children and families who are system-involved in Harris County. I am the only candidate in this race with jury trial experience and to have handled both dependency and delinquency cases. It is my honor and privilege to serve in the role as Judge of the 315th , a role to which I was elected in 2018. Since then, I implemented innovative change that addresses the needs of children in the justice and child welfare systems, and applied a more community-centered approach. There is much more work to do to accomplish truly systemic change-which is why I am seeking re-election for the 315th District Court.

Judicial Q&A: Ron Campana

(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. Much more information about Democratic primary candidates, including links to the interviews and judicial Q&As, can be found on Erik Manning’s spreadsheet.

Ron Campana

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

My name is Ron Campana, and I am running for Justice of the Peace Precinct 1, Place 2. I raised my family in Precinct 1, and I have lived in the precinct for more than 30 years. I am the graduate of a public high school in the Houston Independent School District, and I graduated from Houston Baptist University in 1981. I earned a law degree from Houston’s South Texas College of Law in 1984. I have practiced law in Houston for more than 37 years, serving Texans in the areas of real estate law, business law, construction law, and government law. I have been involved with utility districts and the buildout of critical infrastructure to provide clean water and I have served as director and president of a local municipal utility district. I am also committed to efforts to find a solution to homelessness, having served as director of a nonprofit Houston area homeless shelter. I am grateful to be listed on the 2022 Democratic Primary election ballot as a Candidate for Justice of the Peace Precinct 1, Place 2. You may find my website at www.roncampana.com.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

The Justice of the Peace generally serves as judge of the small claims court involving amounts in controversy of $20,000 or less, evictions, and class c misdemeanors. It also presides over statutory hearings involving occupational driver’s licenses, truancy hearings, and mental health determinations.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

This Court has been impacted significantly by the pandemic. There has been a moratorium on eviction proceedings and an interruption in jury matters. The court needs an experienced person, and I believe this is a place where I can make a difference. I am the most experienced candidate, with a track record of more than 37 years in the practice of law and in the courts. On a personal level, I have worked as a volunteer in the community, and my work in the area of property owner’s associations and evictions on a pro bono basis is a reflection of my commitment to the ideal of public service. My mother’s background as a social worker instilled in me at a young age a sense of empathy, an interest in helping to engage with and ensure the wellbeing of others, and an interest in the various and complex social issues confronted by the members of our community. This particular bench will provide the opportunity for me as an experienced lawyer, with the necessary knowledge for this position, to ensure that the business of the people will be taken care of with justice, fairness, and equality for all who come before the court.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

I have been a resident of Precinct 1 for more than three decades, and I know it well. I have served the community as the director of a nonprofit shelter helping persons in need, and as a result, I have gained firsthand knowledge of the effects of homelessness. I have also held elective office. I was elected as Director and President of a Municipal Utility District in the Houston area providing clean water to the community. This position required me to oversee a public budget involving taxpayer dollars. I have been a practicing attorney for more than 37 years and have substantial experience in the Justice of the Peace Courts. I have the knowledge and experience to serve the community effectively.

5. Why is this race important?

This court is the most likely law court to be encountered by our citizens. It thereby has the greatest duty to perform at the highest standards of both the law and morality. Nowhere are the basic tenets of democracy more challenged than in the Justice Courts. Electing someone who is unprepared for or unschooled in these challenges, or indifferent to them, will result in a basic failure to deliver the promise of justice. I am prepared for the rigors of this position, educated in the issues, and committed to excellence on behalf of the people.

6. Why should people vote for you in March?

I am the most experienced person on the ballot. The last few years have been difficult and stressful for all members of our community. This court has been particularly affected. Precinct 1 and the community deserve the most experienced and knowledgeable person to serve as their Justice of the Peace. I am committed to making sure the business of the court proceeds in a timely and efficient manner. I ask the residents of Precinct 1 to vote for and support me.

Judicial Q&A: Cheri Thomas

(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. Much more information about Democratic primary candidates, including links to the interviews and judicial Q&As, can be found on Erik Manning’s spreadsheet.

Cheri Thomas

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

My name is Cheri Thomas. I am running to be the Democratic candidate for Justice of the Fourteenth Court of Appeals, Place 2. I am a 17-year lawyer with significant appellate and litigation experience. My husband, Lewis Thomas, is a criminal defense attorney. Together, we have three amazing daughters and one fuzzy Samoyed.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

The Fourteenth Court of Appeals is an intermediate appellate court composed of nine justices who hear appeals and original proceedings. The Fourteenth Court has jurisdiction over both civil and criminal appeals from lower courts in ten counties: Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Colorado, Fort Bend, Galveston, Grimes, Harris, Waller, and Washington.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

I am running for this particular bench because I can make a positive impact in the position. I am committed to doing my part to make Texas a place our children are proud to call home, one that values equality, dignity, and compassion. I know what it takes to handle an appeal with fairness, respect, accuracy, and efficiency. I also love the work of the appellate court. I enjoy the study and analysis that goes into working on an appeal, and I am good at the work of the court. My career has focused on legal research and writing; this makes me particularly well-suited to become a Justice on the Fourteenth Court of Appeals as the court’s work is primarily research and writing.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

I have extensive civil appellate and trial experience. I practiced civil litigation at Baker Botts, LLP, working on a wide variety of civil trial matters, including contract, employment, securities, toxic tort, and personal injury matters in state and federal courts. I then joined Stuart PC, where I represented clients in civil litigation and appellate matters, in state and federal courts all over the country. In 2016, I became a Partner at Stuart PC. I have managed civil cases at all stages of litigation and appeal.

I also have experience working on criminal appeals. I worked as a staff attorney for the Fourteenth Court of Appeals—the same court for which I am now running, and in this role I worked on numerous criminal appeals in addition to civil appeals, reviewing the record, conducting legal research, and drafting recommendations on various legal matters for the court’s consideration. In 2019, when I initially decided to run for a position on the court, I left my attorney position on the court and joined my husband’s law firm so that I would have flexibility while campaigning. My practice now focuses on federal and state criminal appeals.

I also clerked for a federal judge. After graduating with honors from the University of Texas School of Law, I secured a federal clerkship working with the Honorable Jorge Solis of the
United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, where I had the opportunity to work on numerous civil cases involving various subject matters.

5. Why is this race important?

The Fourteenth Court hears a wide variety of cases: criminal matters as well as family, probate, business, and other civil matters. The decisions this court makes may impact your livelihood, your home, your family, and your liberty. Except for death-penalty cases, all cases appealed from district and county courts in ten counties are considered by the First or Fourteenth Courts of Appeals. Intermediate appellate courts like the Fourteenth Court are often the last courts to review these appeals. The Fourteenth Court reviews practically every appeal that comes before it whereas Texas’s highest appellate courts, the Texas Supreme Court and the Court of Criminal Appeals, consider a limited number of appeals. This is important because it means the Fourteenth Court is often the last court to consider a case, and thus, the last opportunity for justice.

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

Texans are entitled to qualified, fair, and impartial justices. If elected, I will serve honorably. I will work hard, make well-reasoned decisions, and I will treat everyone with fairness and respect.

My education and experience have given me the skills I will need to be an excellent Justice: good judgment and the ability to perform rigorous, meticulous legal analysis. Despite being the first member of my family to graduate from college and attend law school, I graduated with honors from a top-ranked law school. I worked as an associate at a leading international law firm and made partner at boutique law firm. In addition, as a former staff attorney, I have a thorough understanding of the responsibilities of a justice, and I will be able to get to work on my very first day on the job. I was named a “Rising Star” by the Texas Super Lawyers magazine five times, and in 2019, I was elected as a Fellow to the Texas Bar Foundation.

In addition, I understand that the court affects real people and real families. I am one of eleven children in a blended family. We have had our own unique set of struggles, and we have experienced struggles that most everyone has experienced: divorce, cancer, death. Voters can count on me to care.

Judicial Q&A: Kim McTorry

(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. Much more information about Democratic primary candidates, including links to the interviews and judicial Q&As, can be found on Erik Manning’s spreadsheet.

Kim McTorry

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

I’m Kim McTorry and I am a Judicial Candidate for the 208th Criminal District Court. I am a Houston trial attorney dedicated to fighting for the rights of others. I am the managing attorney at McTorry Law, PLLC where I lend a majority of my practice to representing the underprivileged and the disenfranchised. As a criminal defense attorney, I am tasked with protecting the Constitutional rights of the accused. I formerly served as a prosecutor at the Harris County District Attorney’s Office. I accepted this position because I recognized the need for diversity within the criminal justice system. If elected, I am hopeful about making a positive change towards fair treatment of both victims and the accused. I have handled thousands of felony and misdemeanor cases. Outside of the courtroom I enjoy spending time with my husband and 3 children. We are proud baseball and dance parents.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

The 208th Criminal District court hears felony cases.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

I am running for the 208th , because I recognize that courtroom inefficiency and the inability to view cases from the lens of both sides hurts us all. I would bring a fair and balanced perspective to the 208th while ensuring that both victims of crimes as well as those accused of crimes are given equal priority within the bounds of the law.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

My entire career has been spent practicing criminal law in Harris County courts: first as a prosecutor and currently as a criminal defense attorney. Having practiced on both sides, I have gained a wider perspective of the problems that exists and the possible solutions that need to take place to change them. Practically speaking I have handled thousands of criminal cases ranging from low-level misdemeanors to first degree felonies. I have conducted numerous jury trials, pre-trial hearings, pre-sentencing hearings, and other court proceedings.

5. Why is this race important?

Fairness and efficiency on the bench ensure that our community is safe and that our constitutional rights are safe guarded. This race is especially important, because having the right judge on the bench greatly impacts the functionality of our criminal justice system works. We have a lot of work today to fix some of the flaws within our system, and we need someone on the bench that is ready and eager to put in the work. That ‘someone’ is me.

6. Why should people vote for you in March?

Having practiced on both sides of the bench, I would bring a fair and balanced perspective to the bench. Both my professional experience as well as my personal experiences make me the best suited for this position. I am a first-generation college student that worked 2 jobs to pay my way through college. I come from extreme poverty and was even homeless for a brief period as a child. I’ve dedicated my life to being a voice for the voiceless because I know what it’s like not to have one. I have handled thousands of felony cases, run my own practice, and am a wife and mother of 3 children. I’m no stranger to hard work. I am eager and prepared to work to clear the current backlog of cases in a fair but efficient manner.

My experiences both professionally and personally have afforded me a relentless work ethic, compassion, and the ability to think outside the box. I look forward to putting these qualities into action by creating a more efficient case management system and working to find long lasting solutions for the people of Harris County that will address recidivism and public safety.

Judicial Q&A: Katherine Thomas

(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. Much more information about Democratic primary candidates, including links to the interviews and judicial Q&As, can be found on Erik Manning’s spreadsheet.

Katherine Thomas

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

My name is Katherine Thomas and I am running for the 184th Criminal District Court.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

This court hears felonies ranging from State Jail to First Degree Felonies as well as Capital Offenses.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

I am running for this particular bench because I have always been an individual rooted in service, and not just any type of service but service to the Harris County community and marginalized groups.

I have had the opportunity to examine politics on a national scale during my work in the White House under President Obama’s administration. I have spent countless hours giving back to the home and the community that raised me. I have studied at institutions whose foundations have been to give access to education to those who were denied. This carried me into my career as a prosecutor where I fight every day for the protection of victims, Defendant’s rights as well as justice and safety for all. All of this I carry with me as I seek to serve the people of Harris County as the next Judge of the 184th Criminal District Court. The reality is that we need leaders on the bench who have a continuous commitment to the community outside of election season. Our county needs leaders who have the judicial temperament to value the concerns of victims and the rights of defendants. Harris County deserves judges who will use their platform to bring about solutions within the criminal justice system and stick by the community everyday, not one who just promises to do so when it’s time to ask for your vote during election season every four years.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

First, I am a daughter of Houston. I was born and raised in this community. I am a double HBCU graduate from Spelman College and Howard University School of Law. Those educational experiences taught me to be a social engineer and critical thinker. While attending those institutions, I was given the opportunity to intern at the White House under the leadership of President Obama. While attending law school, I pursued criminal defense work in the Criminal Justice Clinic where I represented indigent clients. I was able to try cases in the District of Columbia and facilitate gaining the best outcome for my clients. After law school, I knew
that I wanted to return home to serve my community. I have served this community in many ways. First, in my role as an Assistant District Attorney. As an Assistant District Attorney, I handle and try cases. On average, I have balanced a caseload of over 2,000 cases. That means on a day-to-day basis I walk hand in hand with victims of crime to better understand how to advocate for them. In that role I also ensure that defendant’s rights are protected. That means that use my discretion to ensure that the appropriate cases are dismissed. I have tried the most serious cases that our county sees, including Murder, Sexual Assault of a Child and Intoxication Manslaughter to name a few. I have argued in hundreds of bail hearings, punishment hearings and motions for new trial. I currently supervise 48 prosecutors in one of our largest divisions in the office. In my supervisory role, I train and onboard attorneys who start at our office and teach them the functions of the job and I also teach them trial skills and techniques.

5. Why is this race important?

This race is important because judges play an intimate role in the daily lives of citizens of Harris County. Whether it is setting bond, deciding which cases go to trial or even selecting grand jurors to hear probable cause. Our county needs Judges who not only have the experience in handling these types of felony cases but they should also have the perspective to understand the concerns of the people who come before the court.

6. Why should people vote for you in March?

People should vote for me in March because I believe there needs to be a change within the felony judicial system. I am an individual who believes in taking an active role when I see that change is needed. As an individual who bears witness to the criminal justice system and its shortcomings, stemming from a lack of diversity and acknowledgment of the undeserved, it is time for individuals such as myself to step up.

I am seeking to be elected to this specific seat because there has never been a black woman to hold this seat, a precedent that is long overdue. If I am elected, I want tohave an intimate role in addressing the deficiencies in our criminal justice system, and that first begins with perspective. To this bench I will bring with
me my experiences as a native Houstonian in the black community, my education as a double HBCU graduate, my refined skillset as a trial attorney, and my experience as an upper level prosecutor who supervises and trains junior prosecutors. I believe all of my experiences combined will bring a necessary understanding to ensure that justice is administered evenly and fairly in the courtroom.

I am running on knowledge, accountability, and trust which are pillars that I believe will advance the Harris County community. I am going to use my knowledge and experience to make sure the law is applied fairly, and ensure that individuals are given the same opportunities for deferred adjudication, dismissals, and probation regardless of your race, class or socio-economic status. I plan to hold law enforcement, the State, the defense bar and the Defendants accountable for their actions to ensure that the Community is kept safe should they encounter the criminal justice system in any capacity. As for trust, I believe it is the cornerstone of any good relationship, and through my judiciary role and the changes I plan to implement, I will gain the trust of the community and keep their safety in the forefront of my mind. The reality is that we as a people have had trouble trusting the system because of how the system has treated us. I want to correct and work on rebuilding that relationship start first with my courtroom. In addition, I plan to pour back into the community by implementing a community court for felony offenders to ensure that they’re given access to resources and aided by community leaders and mentors who can help them change their lives.

Judicial Q&A: Dolores Lozano

(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. Much more information about Democratic primary candidates, including links to the interviews and judicial Q&As, can be found on Erik Manning’s spreadsheet.

Dolores Lozano

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

My Name is Dolores Lozano, and I’m running to be your next Justice of the Peace in Precinct 2, Place 2.

Like so many Mexican-American families, I was born to working-class parents who entered the workforce straight out of high school. I’m the proud daughter of Precinct 6 Chief Deputy Lillian Lozano and 37-Year Local Union 551 Member Jose Lozano.

As the eldest of three girls, I grew up watching my parents exhaust whatever resources they had to make ends meet. And from an early age, my parents taught me the value of hard work and emphasized the importance of education.

I ended up attending a magnet elementary school in River Oaks—30 minutes west of my birth home near Reveille Park. I later attended KIPP: 3D Academy in Fifth Ward and received a full scholarship to Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart for high school. As a result, much of my early life was spent in transit between my family home and my daily student life. It was clear to me, even then, that your zip code should not determine your future.

I earned a scholarship to Baylor University in Waco, where I became a first-generation college graduate with a degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders.

Post-graduation, I spent a few years in speech pathology working with children in underserved communities. I later expanded my career in sports and entertainment, planning and coordinating large-scale events and community initiatives. My work included special projects for events like Super Bowl LI, NCAA Final Four tournaments, NBA All-Star games, TEDxHouston, and more.

Over the years, I have empowered thousands of students to become civically engaged. At KIPP Voyage Academy for Girls, I worked closely with staff to evaluate and enhance programming for their annual Young Ladies’ Leadership Conference. I convened groups of volunteers, designed workshops and panels, secured sponsorships for meals and goodies, and captured the event for two years following my first conference in 2016.

My passion for Quality Education and Gender Equality was instrumental in launching Impact Hub Houston, a locally rooted, globally connected nonprofit organization working to make Houston a role model for how the world solves its most pressing issues.

During my tenure at BakerRipley, a nationally-recognized community development organization, I played a vital role in the response and recovery of the COVID-19 pandemic, supporting local, state, and national task forces that determined where dollars would be allocated to best serve those in need.

As a small business owner, I currently enhance the image, brand, and impact of nonprofits and businesses across the country. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, I have helped small business owners secure over $500,000 in relief funds. I consistently leverage my relationships to drive impact for others. And I have repeatedly shown understanding of the necessary give and take in relationships that allow for both parties to derive value.

Active in the Houston community, I serve as a member of the KIPP Texas Board of Directors and Garden Villas Civic Club Board. I am an Aspen Institute Ideas Scholar and have participated in fellowships with Management Leadership for Tomorrow, Latinos for Education, Colorwave, HTXelerator, and New Leaders Council.

In my spare time, I serve as a Child Advocate, Young Friend of AVDA (Aid to Victims of Domestic Violence), Houston Area Women’s Center Young Leader, and Junior League of Houston Head Active & Assistant Editor of the Houston News.

As a survivor, speech therapist, journalist, and every role in between, I have protected our most vulnerable and opened doors of opportunity with confidence and strength. I look forward to becoming the first Hispanic and first woman to be elected to the bench as the next Harris County Justice of the Peace in Precinct 2, Place 2.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

The current Justice of the Peace system was imagined by King Edward III in the fourteenth century as rural populations began to grow – The position became necessary “to decentralize the administration of justice so as to bring justice to every man or woman in sparsely settled communit[ies].” The goal was to settle the disputes among neighbors and to prevent friction where possible.

In short, it was “to keep the peace.”

PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITIES:
● Class C Traffic Tickets
● Evictions
● Small Claims up to $20,000
● Truancy
● Bad Check Disputes
● Public Nuisances
● Writs
● Occupational Licensing

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

I am running for Harris County Justice of the Peace, Precinct 2, Place 2, because it’s time for a change. We deserve a courtroom that is Convenient, Compassionate, and Community Centered. The sitting Justice of the Peace in Precinct 2, Place 2, has been in the seat for over 35 years. In these years, our community has felt the impact of rising eviction rates, a lack of access to social services, and a continuous struggle to close the school to prison pipeline.

No student should feel silenced within the education system, because truancy intervention programs should be more intentional and focused.

No family should feel like eviction is inevitable, because the judge “just wouldn’t listen.”

No one should feel the burden of entering the courtroom without a translator, because everyone should be able to self-advocate in the language that feels most comfortable for them.

I am running to reinvest in my community and bring humanity back into the courtroom. Most notably, I am running to have working class people leave my courtroom better than when they left.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

With an extensive background in communications and community development, a lengthy history working with multiple stakeholders – especially elected officials and media – and a deep dedication to equity for all, I am prepared to serve as the next Harris County Justice of the Peace in Precinct 2, Place 2.

I have dedicated my entire life to public service with positions across the nonprofit and education sector. My expertise explores a fusion of problem-solving and innovative techniques that impact communities and create pathways to systemic change.

During my years in sports and entertainment, I developed strategic partnerships with schools, businesses, and nonprofits. My experience in public affairs and advocacy aided my appointment to serve on the launch team of Impact Hub Houston, a locally rooted, globally connected nonprofit organization working to make Houston a role model for how the world solves its most pressing issues.

Throughout my work in education, I saw challenges and created solutions to empower youth across the city of Houston. Most recently, I became one of the first alumni to guide decision making for students of color as a member of the KIPP Texas Board of Directors. I currently oversee the major transformation of our schools focused on the review and revision of policies, procedures, and systems.

My unconventional, strength-based approach has been instrumental in promoting civic engagement in Texas. Over the years, I have been asked by leaders in my region to participate and volunteer in an array of advisory boards and committees. With that, I played a vital role in the response and recovery of the COVID-19 pandemic, supporting local, state, and national task forces that determined where dollars would be allocated to best serve those in need.

I currently devote my time to organizations that affect change in quality education, holistic housing, gender equity, and disaster recovery.

Without question, I continue striving to make my community more equitable and resilient because I can relate to the lived experience of many. Some of the most memorable highlights in my career have changed the trajectory of my family and neighbors. From becoming a first-generation graduate to serving at the Houston Area Women’s Center and helping the community through disasters like Hurricane Harvey and the present-day pandemic, my efforts to become a better leader are relentless.

I am certain that, by incorporating my strength to build partnerships and drive impact for others, I can illustrate effective and consistent leadership as the next Harris County Justice of the Peace in Precinct 2, Place 2.

5. Why should people vote for you in March?

I believe I am the most qualified and experienced candidate for this position, and I will dedicate my term to modernizing our courtroom. If elected, I will serve Harris County by assuring a convenient, compassionate, and community centered courtroom. Early voting starts on Valentine’s Day, February 14th, so show some love and Vote For Dolores Lozano. Election day is March 1, 2022.

Judicial Q&A: Veronica Monique Nelson

(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. Much more information about Democratic primary candidates, including links to the interviews and judicial Q&As, can be found on Erik Manning’s spreadsheet.

Veronica Monique Nelson

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

My name is Veronica Monique Nelson and I am running to be the first elected Judge of the 482nd Criminal District Court in Harris County, Texas

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

The 482nd Criminal District Court hears felony offenses ranging from State Jail to 1st Degree offenses within Harris County, Texas. The Court handles all pre-trial and trial procedures including pre-trial release, bail hearings, pre-trial motions, docket settings, bench and jury trials, motions to adjudicate and revoke probation hearings, post-conviction writ hearings, Pre-Sentencing Investigation hearings, issuances of orders and findings of fact and conclusions of law, assignment of attorneys for indigent clients, overall docket management and the courts’ Local Rules.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

The 482nd is a brand new District Court bench created by legislators to begin having dockets in September 2021. When the 482 nd District Court bench became available, I was approached by numerous judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys encouraging me to run for the open bench due to my experience and current position as being an ideal person to bring integrity and knowledge to this position. After careful thought and consideration, I believed I would be the best person to serve on this bench as I have the most judicial experience and temperament. My goal would be to bring new programs and ideas to the felony court that have already proven to work well in both our misdemeanor courts and other jurisdictions, in addition to handling the case back log that currently is clogging all courts in Harris County.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

I graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a Legal Studies major where I studied both Domestic and International legal systems including best practices in sentencing, drug rehabilitation versus extended drug sentencings, and mental health crisis within the judicial system. After graduation I attended Law School at the University Of Alabama School Of Law where I received best paper in Sentencing Guidelines, Family Law and Criminal Law.

I have been practicing criminal law for over sixteen years (2 years at a Public Defender’s Office as an intern and 14+ years in Harris County) and have extensive trial experience ranging from class C speeding tickets to non-death Capital Murders. I have been a Chief Prosecutor in both misdemeanor and felony District Courts, which means I have supervised junior attorneys while also maintain my own caseload and handling daily dockets. While District Court Chief in the 182nd and 180th , I was able to have over 100% clearance rate due to the reasonableness of my recommendations. While at the District Attorney’s Office, I was a senior prosecutor in the Juvenile, Intake, Trial Bureau and Mental Health divisions. So I have experience dealing with youthful offenders and those with mental health issues. In addition I have taught prosecutors, law students, officers, and judicial officers, on various topics ranging from probable cause, search warrants, mental health orders, juvenile magistration, and case filings.

In 2019, I was selected by the current county court judges to be the first African American Staff Attorney for the Harris County Courts. In that position, I am able to continue my studies of best practices all while guiding/training the judges on various topics ranging from Pre and Post-conviction Writs, Judicial Canons, O’Donnell Consent Decree and Bail, Mental Health orders, any new Legislative Updates, Docket Management, and Managed Assigned Counsel.

5. Why is this race important?

This race will set a foundation with a unique opportunity for voters to select the first elected Judge to a brand new District Court bench. The elected Judge’s experience, integrity, philosophy and knowledge of the position will be vital to the future of this court within the criminal justice system. Harris County judicial system has made great progress in that past three or four years but there is still work that needs to be done to ensure “justice for all” isn’t a catchy phrase but a reality. A reality that is backed by the confidence and support of the community served.  Now more than ever, voters understand how important it is to have judges who are fair, competent, unbiased, and uphold the integrity of the office. In order to have a strong foundation for the 482nd , the Judge should be well versed in the job and the upcoming matters both in and out of the courtroom.

6. Why should people vote for you in March?

First, my legal education, courtroom experience and knowledge, along with my current position, uniquely qualify me as the best candidate for this position.  I would be able to make an immediate impact both on and off the bench. Second, my commitment to working for the community as a public servant and through community service.  As mentioned above, I have been a public servant since 2005 both as a law student and lawyer.  In law school, I was awarded the Order of the Samaritan which is the highest public service award bestowed by the University of Alabama School of Law. To earn this award, a student must complete at least 90 hours of volunteer work, with at least 50 of those hours spent doing pro bono/law-related service.  My community service has also continued through sports, as I volunteered with many travel softball organizations.  Within the last year, I have educated individuals at the Judson Robinson Jr. community center on various legal topics.   I have also had the privilege of serving as a volunteer guest lecturer at TSU Law School. Lastly, my upbringing, as a former collegiate and professional athlete as well as an NCAA Champion.  My background in athletics helped me develop several skills that are important for this position. Playing sports my entire life has taught me to 1. Work with people from diverse backgrounds, 2. Successfully multitask 3. Exhibit the appropriate judicial temperament, treating people with integrity and respect, especially in under pressure situations, and 3. Cultivate successful relationships.  My background has given me the training, knowledge and unique perspective that will allow me to be ready for the bench on the first day.

Judicial Q&A: Manpreet Monica Singh

(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. Much more information about Democratic primary candidates, including links to the interviews and judicial Q&As, can be found on Erik Manning’s spreadsheet.

Manpreet Monica Singh

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

My name is Manpreet Monica Singh and I am a native Houstonian. I am a 20+ year attorney with over 100 trials and love the courtroom. I am running for Harris County Civil Court at Law #4.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

This Court’s jurisdiction has recently been raised to $250,000 for the amount in controversy. This encompasses cases regarding contract disputes, car accidents, evictions, condemnation cases and many other cases. And what I’m most excited about is conducting marriages.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

I was driven to run for this newly vacated seat after many years of appearing before Judges in County Court that did not reflect our Democratic values and the rule of law. Being elected to this seat would also round out the four County Courts with experienced and bright judges who champion inclusion and diversity. Over the years attorneys stopped filing cases in the County Courts to avoid the unpredictability of the entrenched Judges there were before. Now with an increasing number of competent Judges who are fair and principled, I believe cases will be filed in County Court again, expediting the process of a case from start to finish. I want to be part of the solution and serving in this capacity is an important way I can improve the court system. Finally, my election to this bench would afford Harris County the historic opportunity to elect the first Sikh female Judge in the United States.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

From the first week of being sworn in as an attorney, I have routinely practiced in the courtroom, having tried over 100 cases in the last 20 years. My experience helps me understand the frustrations of clients and attorneys as they move through the Court system. As a result of the past stalling of cases in the County Courts, I became more innovative in ways to resolve my cases. I have brought the most difficult attorneys to the table to help find a middle ground. In fact, over the past 10 years at my current firm, I have settled over 700 cases in litigation. I have always been a leader in the number of settlements finalized, while simultaneously going to Court for trials that lasted sometimes for weeks. Amicable settlement of cases and trial are both essential parts of the efficient resolution of disputes in the court system. Judges must ensure their courts are administered in a way that allows for both processes to occur in a timely manner.

Over the years I have also attended and completed many leadership academies. I completed Leadership Houston’s Signature Program (Class XXXVIII), ABA Leadership Academy, 2016-2017, Harvard Leadership Program, 2014, FBI Citizens Academy Graduate, 2013, and Certified Sikh Coalition Advocate, 2011. Professionally, I was certified in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas in 2002, Certified Court Ad Litem in 2002, and Certified in Mediation in 2001.

The most flattering ask in our profession is to teach Continuing Legal Education classes. I have taught on numerous occasions for the American Board of Trial Advocates, University of Texas Law School, State of Bar of Texas, and before the Harris County Judiciary. I have coordinated many CLE classes, finding speakers and arranging logistics. Notably, in February 2020 with a co-chair, I arranged a highly successful full day CLE for the Houston Lawyer Association and various other diversity bars.

5. Why is this race important?

Too many judges have become career judges. Year after year, entrenched in how things have been done in the past. Much as the city has grown more diverse and inclusive, so should our judicial system, while embracing new ideas and views. This race is important because it is time to have our great courts reflect our great city.

6. Why should people vote for you in March?

Of my opponents, I’m the most qualified and have been “boots on the ground” to have the most in-depth understanding of the inner workings of what is needed and how to manage this job. I have always lead my life with sweat equity and I will serve the citizens. My experience being on the other side of the bench all these years will be an invaluable and unique perspective which allows me to see the pain points from both the client and attorney, and for both plaintiffs and defendants. The mere number of cases that I have both tried as well as settled means that I, uniquely, have the best grasp on how the law is currently practiced and what litigants are asking for when they entrust the court system to resolve their disputes. I intend to bring my experiences to the bench to help attorneys and clients find efficient and effective resolutions and access to justice that has been missing for so long. That is why I have been endorsed by the Houston Black American Democrats, the Mexican American Bar Association, Greater Heights Democratic Club, Bay Area Democratic Movement, and Fired Up in the 559 thus far.

Equally important, I have been a community activist and organizer. My support and commitment to the community is a part of my fiber as an individual, not a political posture or position formulated in my run for office. The commitment was instilled in me by my immigrant parents and my faith. I have worked closely with various organizations and offices and been an active participant championing the fight for racial and economic equity. I have testified for the HERO campaign, testified before the State Board of Education in regards to their textbooks, written numerous articles, and appeared on many TV programs to further our platform for these issues. Alongside the endorsement of organizations I have endorsements from community members and politicians that champion change. I am proud to be endorsed by Lizzie Fletcher, Ann Johnson, Ellen Cohen, Gordon Quan, Ron Reynolds, Roy Malonson, and many others in our community.

Now I ask for your endorsement. The endorsement of the people to vote for me!

Judicial Q&A: Steve Duble

(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. Much more information about Democratic primary candidates, including links to the interviews and judicial Q&As, can be found on Erik Manning’s spreadsheet.

Steve Duble

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

I’m Steve Duble (he/him/his) and I am running for Justice of the Peace Precinct 1, Place 2.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

One of the primary things that JPs do is hear landlord and tenant disputes, which means JP court is the first step in eviction cases. If elected, I will promote eviction and homelessness diversion programs, increase transparency, and bring social services, legal aid, and resources into the court to help people in our community and reduce the harm of evictions that do happen. JPs also hear traffic cases, Class C misdemeanors that are punishable by fine, civil cases with up to $20,000 in controversy, and truancy cases. If elected, I will overhaul sentencing practices to ensure that fines are assessed on an individual basis and are equitably enforced without creating an undue burden on people. I will also work to address racial disparities in sentencing and fee assessment. Finally, JPs can marry people. As the first gay JP in Harris County history, I will welcome all couples and ensure an affirming environment for them to get married.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

In December 2019, I represented members of the Houston Tenants Union pro bono in a Harris County Justice of the Peace court and in their appeals to County Court. Hundreds of tenants, most of whom had to take a day off work or find childcare just to be there, were hoping that the JP court would be their opportunity to be heard. Instead, they were subjected to a confusing, degrading experience that felt like detention. Some of these issues were specific to that particular court, but all of our JP courts must do more to address the eviction crisis and strengthen our communities.

I am not running for this position as a stepping stone on the way to another position, I am running because I know that this court can make a tangible difference for our community. I am committed to sticking around and transforming Precinct 1, Place 2 into a model problem-solving court that emphasizes holistic, sustainable, and community driven resolutions to housing problems.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

I’ve represented both tenants and landlords in Harris County JP and county courts. Additionally, I’ve spent over thirty years’ advocating for plaintiffs and defendants in a wide variety of cases. My peers in the legal community have ranked me at the highest level of professional excellence for my legal expertise, communication skills, and ethical standards by granting me an AV preeminent rating with Martindale-Hubbell. Moreover, I am deeply embedded in Houston’s progressive community through my work to advance social justice and Democratic values. Over the past ten years, in my leadership role with the Harris County Democratic Lawyers Association, I’ve worked with community leaders, judges, lawyers, and law students to provide continuing legal education on social justice issues, including a CLE panel on the housing crisis and the role of the JP courts. I have never hesitated to jump into action in support of causes I believe in, from helping organize the “No Ban, No Wall” rally at the Texas Capitol in 2017, to pro bono representation of everyone from activists to tenants. These experiences have helped me learn about the most important issues facing our community and forge meaningful relationships with advocates and experts.

5. Why is this race important?

JP courts are on the frontlines of Harris County’s eviction crisis. The pandemic has exacerbated an ongoing problem created by a lack of affordable housing, stagnant wages, and scant protections for the most vulnerable tenants. Now, the situation is getting worse as pandemic-related rent relief funding is rapidly disappearing. Sometimes evictions are necessary, but oftentimes they can be avoided with rent relief funding, conflict resolution, and resources. Evictions are harmful for tenants, disruptive for landlords, and they weaken the very structure of our communities and neighborhoods. As the largest County in Texas with sixteen fully staffed JP courts, Harris County can and should be leading the charge in Texas by thinking beyond the pandemic to create lasting solutions to reduce evictions and mitigate the harms of this crisis. An effective JP can work with tenants, landlords, and other stakeholders in our community to achieve outcomes that benefit everyone.

6. Why should people vote for you in March?

I have a progressive vision for the court and the experience needed to realize it. I will listen to advocates, experts, and the people most affected by the issues. I’ll remain open to trying innovative ideas to decrease evictions and create a more equitable, transparent, and accessible court. Being in my court will not feel like high school detention because I will listen to people, not scold them. I won’t use a gavel and I won’t impose dress codes or arbitrary codes of conduct. I will respect everyone’s name, pronouns, and gender expression. JP courts have the potential to do a lot of good in our community, and I will use my position to help connect people with resources they need by working with the county, wraparound services, nonprofits, social workers, and legal aid.

Judicial Q&A: Ieshia Champs

(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. Much more information about Democratic primary candidates, including links to the interviews and judicial Q&As, can be found on Erik Manning’s spreadsheet.

Ieshia Champs

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

My name is Ieshia Champs and I am running to represent Harris County as judge in the 315th Juvenile District Court.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

The 315th Juvenile District Court handles two types of cases. Juvenile delinquency cases where youth, between the ages of 10-17, has allegedly engaged in delinquent conduct. In addition to cases involving the Texas Department of Family & Protective Services (“CPS”), where there has been allegations of child abuse or neglect.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

A judge should represent the community they serve. As a Harris County native, a former foster child, a mother of five, and a Child Welfare Attorney, I understand just how impactful the rulings are that come from the 315th judicial seat. These rulings impact individuals, families, and the overall community. I know that with me on the 315th bench, I will have a positive impact by making holistic rulings. It’s not just about applying the law, but also looking intently into the facts in order to make a just ruling that benefits the life of the individual, the family, and the community. The community that raised me and gave me a second chance at life. Because I am a reflection of this community, I made the intentional choice to run for this particular bench.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

After graduating from Thurgood Marshall School of Law, I sought out a career with as a Child Welfare Attorney. I have litigated hundreds of cases where the best interest of the child is always the number one priority. I have engaged in several mediations, statutory hearings, and have mentored and trained new attorneys in the child welfare field. I have attended trainings and CLEs with appellate attorneys regarding child welfare, and have prepared for several jury trials. I have continued to sharpen my skills by taking CLEs and working with seasoned mentors who continue to challenge me on my journey as an advocate.

5. Why is this race important?

This race is important because Judges are the ultimate decision makers and those decisions are life altering. There should be someone on the bench who has the best interest of everyone as a priority. Electing the right candidate is paramount to the important decisions that will one day an impact on our community. That is why it is important for the community to get out and vote. The law serves The People. This is The People’s Race. I am The People’s Champ!

6. Why should people vote for you in March?

This is real life for me. I have been a juvenile in the system and an attorney representing the system. I am a candidate that has been in the position of almost everyone that comes before me. If elected, my decisions will be made by looking at each case holistically while listening to each set of facts and apply the law with compassion based off of the information in front of me. It is because of these experiences and compassion that I am the right candidate to preside as judge in the 315th District Court!

Judicial Q&A: Paul Calzada

(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. Much more information about Democratic primary candidates, including links to the interviews and judicial Q&As, can be found on Erik Manning’s spreadsheet.

Paul Calzada

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

I am Paul Antonio Calzada, and I am a Democrat asking to be elected judge of the 312th District Court, a civil court of special jurisdiction over family law cases for Harris County, Texas. I have a degree in psychology from the University of Texas and a law degree from the University of Houston Law Center. I graduated from law school in May of 2003 and received my law license in June of 2003. I was qualified to take the Texas Bar Exam while still a law student based on my academic record. I grew up in a single-parent household of modest means in the tiny town of Huffman, which is near Lake Houston. I was the first person in my family to attend college.

I am a native Houstonian and Spanish speaker with over 18 years of family law experience. Before law school, I worked as a Family Crisis Intervention Specialist for Tarrant County MHMR. After law school, I worked as an attorney at Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse (AVDA), a non-profit, pro bono law firm representing people in family court. After AVDA, I continued to practice primarily family law. During the first year of the former president’s term in office, I also worked for an immigration law firm representing asylum applicants and Special Immigrant Juveniles. I believed the administration’s immigration policies were immoral and damaging to families, and I needed to do something to help. I have devoted my professional career to helping families in crisis, and I hope to continue to do so as the judge of the 312th.

I live in Houston with my wife of 23 years, Maria Calzada, a child of immigrants and a first-generation American. We have two children who are also native Houstonians, and we raised them here. Our son and daughter have attended HISD schools their entire academic careers. Our son is openly gay and the president of his high school’s GSA club. He recently scored a perfect 1600 on his SAT, and we are very proud and excited to see where he decides to attend college. Our daughter is a talented digital artist and a member of her middle school’s Mariachi Club. My wife, an Infectious Disease Physician Assistant, is a former Democratic Precinct Chair and was recently recognized as a Volunteer of the Year for Pride Houston. She is also an executive board member of our son’s high school PTO and a leader of our daughter’s Girl Scout Troop. I consider my family my most tremendous success. They inspired me to run for public service. I am running for them and our community.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

The 312th is a state civil district court with specialized jurisdiction over family law matters in Harris County. Common family law cases include divorce, suits affecting the parent-child relationship, modification of family law orders, enforcement of family law orders, paternity determinations, termination of parental rights, adoptions, name changes, registration of foreign family law orders, habeas corpus/writs of attachment, CPS cases, and protective orders.

I have represented clients in all of these types of cases.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

Family law judges should be family law attorneys. I am running because we need a judge dedicated to helping families. I have professional experience with families in acute crisis. I spent part of my legal career devoted to domestic violence victims, immigrants, and I have always represented clients from underserved communities. In particular, I have represented many Spanish-speaking, low-income, and undocumented clients. As a result, I have more experience helping families in crisis than any other candidate in this race.

I am not running for this particular bench because of personal animus towards the incumbent judge. Nor am I running for this bench based on a single case or interaction with the incumbent judge. I am not running against anyone. I am running for the people of Harris County.

I believe the people of Harris County deserve judges who meet the high standards traditionally expected of our courts. These standards include judicial temperament, integrity, and real family law experience. These are not aspirations. Aspiration is something you hope to achieve. These are obligations. Ask my colleagues about me, and you will find that I am an honest, knowledgeable, and caring advocate for my clients and their family. I will bring a respectful demeanor, judicial temperament, legal acumen, and professionalism to the 312th.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

I have practiced family law for over 18 years, entirely based in Harris County. I am a member of the Texas Bar College and the Houston Bar Association, including the family law section and diversity committees. I am a committee member for the recently revived Houston Bar Association Bar Bench Conference in Probate and Family Law. I have trial and appeals experience in family law. I have trauma-informed care and implicit bias training.

I have both non-legal and legal experience helping families in need. I am a devoted father and husband who knows the importance of family. I know the challenges that life presents to us, and I have personal experience with many of the challenges faced by our communities.

According to the Harris County District Clerk records, from 2000 to now, I have represented 236 family law clients as the attorney of record. The incumbent judge has represented 53 family law clients in the same timeframe. Since 2000, I have represented more Harris County family law clients than any other candidate in this race.

5. Why is this race important?

Family law courts are courts of equity. That means that the judge has tremendous authority to make orders for the just and right division of property and in the best interest of children. The people of Harris Court deserve a judge who has the overall experience to make the best orders possible. This race is important because we have an opportunity to elect a judge who has significant family law experience, relevant non-legal experience, and personal experience to make judgments that lift all parties before the court. Family law is not a “zero-sum” arena. We need a judge who doesn’t see the cases as “win or lose.” We need a judge who can objectively review the facts, set aside their personal feelings towards the attorneys and parties, and craft a nuanced and contemplative order for the people seeking justice.

Family law judges should dissolve tension and discord. Not cause or escalate it. We need a judge who will be respectful to everyone before the court and a judge who will react to disrespect calmly and professionally. This race is important because we need a judge who will solve problems, not cause or exacerbate them.

6. Why should people vote for you in March?

I will be a family court judge that will make the residents of Harris County proud. I have the necessary family law experience and legal knowledge for the bench. But, I also have non-legal and personal experience to make judgments that are just, right, and in the best interest of every person before the court. I am from here and raised my family here. I have dedicated my career to helping families. I have practiced in every family law court in Harris County, and I have been before every family court judge since 2003. I know what a judge can do for the families before them. We deserve a judge that will exercise the profound responsibility of the court to help families. I will be that judge.

Judicial Q&A: Andrea Beall

(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. Much more information about Democratic primary candidates, including links to the interviews and judicial Q&As, can be found on Erik Manning’s spreadsheet.

Andrea Beall

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

I am Andrea Beall and I am running for the 185th District Court. I am a lifelong Democrat. I have a background in Community Development and have worked for nonprofits in Houston’s Second and Third Wards. I’m a Child Homicide Prosecutor and an Adjunct Law Professor. I live with my family in Houston, Texas.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

This court hears every felony case, from State Jail Felonies to Capital Murders.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

I am running for this particular bench because I know I can work harder for Harris County to decrease the case backlog in the 185 th District Court. My opponent has only presided over 8 felony cases in a 3-year period, while many of our hard-working Democratic Judges has presided over 8 or more trials just in 2021 alone. The 185th went from a docket of 918 cases in January of 2019 to over 2500 cases, causing the court to be the 4th highest docket out of the 23 District Courts in the Criminal Courthouse. This must be solved by increasing the access to justice in the 185th by ensuring that everyone gets his/her/their day in court.

I am also running for the 185th District Court to create a Youthful Offenders Program in that court in order to provide a more individualized path to rehabilitation for 17-25-year-olds in the adult probation system. According to The Marshall Project, individuals who are incarcerated and released before turning 21 years of age have a rearrest rate of 68%. Statewide, the group with the highest recidivism rate across all degrees of felonies are individuals 24 and younger at their release, according to the State of Texas Legislative Budget Board’s Criminal Justice Data Analysis Team. In Texas, 17-year-olds are considered adults for purposes of the penal code. So, per the data, if a 17-year-old is arrested, incarcerated, and released before they turn 25, that teenager is statistically likely to be rearrested and become part of the revolving door of the criminal justice system. We need to effect real change to stop this cycle and the current tools being used are clearly not working. The Harris County Probation Department has many great resources, but our Probation Officers can only work within the constraints of programs that are already in place; the same programs that have been in place and have failed to curb the recidivism rate for young people.

This is why my Youthful Offenders Court idea is so desperately needed. My recognition of this comes from my work in nonprofits as well as my own personal story. I grew up with one parent in prison and the other with addiction issues. However, my family had social capital, which ensured that I was surrounded by a community of people to ensure I had advocates. Because of these advocates, I never went hungry, always had a roof over my head, completed schoolwork, and had healthy outlets for grief and anger, all of which kept me out of the criminal justice system. Many of the young people who appear in felony court come from households with absent parents, but do not have the social capital I had. There is no one to advocate for these young adults. This leads to a variety of problems such as unstable housing, increased high school dropout rates, a lack of learned healthy ways to address negative emotions, and a lack of sense of belonging. The likelihood of joining groups that mimic perceived “family” structure, such as gangs and street cliques, increases when a young person lacks familial and communal support. When society fails these individuals, they end up in the criminal justice system. By creating a specialty program that involves community buy-in, we can create social capital for these young adults. Through mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment, stable housing, mentorships, tutoring, job skills training, and networking, a pathway out of the criminal justice system can be provided. I am running so that I can have the opportunity to create this specialty program within the 185th court’s docket.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

I have a BA in Political Science from Baylor University, an MA in International Development with an emphasis on Urban Development, and a JD from South Texas College of Law, from where I graduated Magna Cum Laude. I have served the last 4 years as an Adjunct Professor at South Texas College of Law Houston, where I teach law students trial skills in the Mock Trial Litigation course. I also work as a contract employee with the City of Houston as a Search and Seizure instructor, educating future and current police officers on 4th Amendment citizen protections. My primary job, however, is as an Assistant District Attorney, where I currently prosecute one half of all the cases in Harris County in which a child under 14 has been abused and murdered. I have prosecuted everything from traffic tickets to Capital Murders. I have overseen felony court dockets as a District Court Chief Prosecutor in the Trial Bureau. I am the only person in my race who has experience litigating Capital Murders. I have the most experience in my race handling the most violent and serious crimes in our penal code. Prior to my legal career, I worked in nonprofits in Houston’s Second and Third Wards with at-risk youth and young adults. My nonprofit experience, my family history, and my formal education in Urban Development provide me with a unique perspective on social and economic issues affecting those within the criminal justice system.

5. Why is this race important?

This race is important because our felony justice system needs true change. Our community must have access to fair and efficient justice. How felony courts are run touches the lives of all community members. Felony courts handle cases that carry significant penalties. Our victims and those accused of crimes have a right to have their cases heard fairly.

6. Why should people vote for you in March?

I have a proven record of hard work and diligence. While one of my opponents has served a Misdemeanor Court Chief, I am the only person in my race who has served as a Chief in Felony Courts, overseeing felony dockets and capital cases. Despite having been licensed for fewer years than the current sitting judge, I have the most relevant experience in serious felony offenses in this race. Neither of my opponents are certified to handle Capital or First Degree cases, yet that is all I handle. I have worked hard to gain the amount of experience I have. My record of hard work is also seen through my prior service with nonprofits in Houston’s Second and Third Wards. I have also shown my work ethic by building my career while continuing to teach for the City of Houston and South Texas College of Law.

In addition to serving South Texas College of Law, I am also involved in various other organizations within the legal community. I serve on the Houston Bar Association’s HAY Center Committee, dedicated to working with foster youth, and the Gender Fairness Committee. I am a member of the Houston Young Lawyers Association, the Houston Democratic Lawyers Association, and the Association of Women Attorneys. I am also a Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation, which is limited to 1/3 of 1% of licensed attorneys and is one of the highest honors that can be bestowed upon a member of the State Bar of Texas.

Most importantly, I deserve your vote because I have a plan to create true change in our justice system by creating Youthful Offenders Court in the 185th . I have already begun speaking with nonprofits and local community leaders in order to provide our teenagers and young adults in the probation system with a true pathway out of the revolving door of the criminal justice system. By creating community buy-in and social capital, true redemption can begin in Harris County. I am putting the work in now to ensure that I can begin this program immediately upon taking the bench.

Interviews and judicial Q&As through February 4

Updating from last week. This is to put all of the interviews and judicial Q&As in a single post for your convenience, in case you missed something. This past week was CD38 plus Candis Houston in HD142 and Chase West in HD132. Next up, for the final week of interviews, will be two Land Commissioner candidates, Jinny Suh and Jay Kleberg. After that, I still have several Q&As and will run them till I run out. As noted before, I will likely do some more interviews for the runoffs.

Here’s the interview list so far, followed by the judicial Q&As. As a reminder, much more information about Democratic primary candidates, including links to the interviews and judicial Q&As, can be found on Erik Manning’s spreadsheet. Thanks to CityCast Houston for the recent shoutout in the newsletter and on the podcast. Let me know if you have any questions.

Interviews

Aurelia Wagner, HD147
Danielle Bess, HD147
Jolanda Jones, HD147
Nam Subramanian, HD147
Reagan Flowers, HD147

Ben Chou, Harris County Commissioners Court Precinct 4
Ann Williams, Harris County Commissioners Court Precinct 4
Gina Calanni, Harris County Commissioners Court Precinct 4
Lesley Briones, Harris County Commissioners Court Precinct 4
Clarence Miller, Harris County Commissioners Court Precinct 4

Dylan Osborne, Harris County Treasurer (Incumbent)
Carla Wyatt, Harris County Treasurer
Marilyn Burgess, Harris County District Clerk (Incumbent)
Desiree Broadnax, Harris County District Clerk

Sen. John Whitmire, SD15
Molly Cook, SD15

Duncan Klussman, CD38
Diana Martinez Alexander, CD38

Candis Houston, HD142
Chase West, HD132

Judicial Q&As

Kyle Carter, 14th Court of Appeals, Place 2

Judge Chuck Silverman, 183rd Criminal District Court
Judge Abigail Anastasio, 184th Criminal District Court
Lema Barazi, 189th Civil District Court
Judge Scott Dollinger, 189th Civil District Court
Judge Greg Glass, 208th Criminal District Court
Samuel Milledge, 228th Criminal District Court
Judge Chris Morton, 230th Criminal District Court
Judge Tristan Longino, 245th Family District Court
Angela Lancelin, 245th Family District Court
Judge Hilary Unger, 248th Criminal District Court
Dianne Curvey, 280th Family District Court
Judge Barbara Stalder, 280th Family District Court
Judge Chip Wells, 312th Family District Court
Teresa Waldrop, 312th Family District Court
Judge Natalia Oakes, 313th Family District Court
Glenda Duru, 313th Family District Court
Alycia Harvey, 482nd Criminal District Court

David Patronella, County Civil Court At Law #4
Porscha Natasha Brown, County Criminal Court At Law #3
Judge Kelley Andrews, County Criminal Court At Law #6
Judge Andrew Wright, County Criminal Court At Law #7
Erika Ramirez, County Criminal Court At Law #8
Judge David Singer, County Criminal Court At Law #14
Judge Michael Newman, County Probate Court #2

Chris Watson, Justice of the Peace, Precinct 1 Place 2
Blair McClure, Justice of the Peace, Precinct 2 Place 2
Judge Lucia Bates, Justice of the Peace, Precinct 3 Place 2
Herbert Alexander Sanchez, Justice of the Peace, Precinct 3 Place 2
Ashleigh Roberson, Justice of the Peace, Precinct 3 Place 2

Judicial Q&A: Judge Barbara Stalder

(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. Much more information about Democratic primary candidates, including links to the interviews and judicial Q&As, can be found on Erik Manning’s spreadsheet.

Judge Barbara Stalder

1. Who are you and in which court do you preside?

I am Barbara “BABS” Stalder. My nickname is BABS which I was given by a classmate/friend in first year law school back in the year 2000. The BABS stands for Bad Ass Barbara Stalder. Most of my close friends call me BABS. It’s a fun nickname to have.

I am the presiding Judge of the 280th Family Violence Protective Order Court.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

This Court hears cases orders of protection for victims of family violence, stalking, harassment, human trafficking, forced prostitution and sexual assault. This Court also has exclusive jurisdiction over custody cases where one parent has caused the death of the other parent and there is a family member seeking custody of the children.

3. What have been your main accomplishments during your time on this bench?

I am very proud of the work we have accomplished in the past three years and cannot name just one because we have accomplished so much.
a. We instituted best practices in strengthening our gun surrender program when issuing a Protective Order (PO) against a Respondent.
b. We partnered with the Public Defender’s Office in the appointment of pro bono lawyers for Respondents who have an active criminal case to protect their rights in both proceedings.
c. We created court policies and procedures that ensure fairness for both sides in the submission of evidence and witnesses so neither side is ambushed at trial.
d. We reassessed and tightened security measures for applicants appearing in-person in the courthouse.
e. We instituted a trauma informed approach to all cases and have integrated services when a PO is issued. *This was a mandate by the legislature when the Court was created in 2009 but had never been incorporated into the court. We refer both applicants and respondents to community services when needed such as counseling, parenting courses, substance abuse treatment, and battering intervention courses. We also have taken into consideration any low cost or no cost services for the litigants.
This mandate was to help prevent further family violence cases in the court system. We are extremely proud of the work in this area.
f. We instituted a strict “compliance hearing” policy where the Court holds a hearing approximately 90 days after the PO is issued to ensure the Respondent is complying with the Order. If needed the Court will Order further compliance hearings to make sure the respondent understands the seriousness of complying with a Court Order.
g. We created a late call email to assist lawyers who needed to contact the Court if they were running late.
h. We instituted a policy that responds timely to all calls and emails- usually that day or within 24 hours.
i. We employed best practices and appointed Amicus attorneys on a case-by-case basis when a child is name as a victim or protected person in a PO to insure the best interest of the child
j. We instituted a policy to appoint pro bono lawyers on a case-by-case basis if the Respondent shows a mental health or educational challenge to protect the Respondent’s right s. This also include minor who are named as Respondents in PO cases.
k. Began creating a bench/lawyer toolkit for lawyers in prosecuting and defending family violence cases including PO. (Partnered with AVDA, Judge Janet Heppard and law students from across Texas. We hope to complete this toolkit by the Summer 2022.
l. Partnered in 2021 with Judge Janet Heppard, AVDA, UH Law and Ft. Bend County Bar Association and provided a no cost CLE/webinar for lawyers in prosecuting and defending protective orders. We plan to repeat this course in 2022

4. What do you hope to accomplish in your courtroom going forward?

a. expand the pro bono attorney program to ALL indigent Respondents by working with the public defender’s office, the private bar, and our local law school clinics to meet the needs of our Court.
b. create a courthouse therapy dog program to assist with anxiety and fears when the parties return to in person proceedings in Court. This program will assist with providing a calm presence for those testifying in court
c. expand referrals for low cost or no cost services for both applicants and respondents who meet low-income requirements
d. create additional programs that reduce the likelihood of further family violence and repeat court cases as mandated by the legislature

5. Why is this race important?

Family violence cases have increased exponentially over the past three years, especially during Covid. During my first year on the bench the number of filings increased by over 30%. There is no associate judge to hear the overflow of cases and each case is considered a final trial. There are also no jury trials in this Court therefore the Judge of this Court is the sole person who hears these matters. Since 2019 we have disposed of over 4000 cases which includes default cases where a respondent fails to appear, agreements where both sides agree to a PO and bench trials where I listen to the evidence and make a decision based on a preponderance of the evidence. Since this is a specialty court, the only Court of its kind in Texas, the judge of the Court needs special training in family violence issues to effectively preside over these cases. Family violence involves complex family dynamics that go beyond mere physical violence. A Judge must have the skill and knowledge to understand the nuances of the intersections of emotional, physical, spiritual, financial, and psychological abuse.

A candidate who has little or no experience in this area will be ill-prepared to handle the issues and render orders that keep the applicant safe but also help the respondent to make effective changes. A candidate who has only a handful of family violence related cases is not equipped to make the important decisions of this Court. People’s lives are at stake, and we cannot afford to have a Judge who does not have extensive training for this bench. On the job training would be a disaster and our community cannot afford to take a chance with this Court.

We cannot put someone’s life in the hands of an inexperienced judge. It is too risky and too detrimental to our community. We did for the first two election cycles of this Court, and it was a disaster.

6. Why should people vote for you in March?

I am the only candidate with the education, experience, and training. I am the only candidate board certified in family law which means I am oe of only about 918 lawyers of the over 10,000 lawyers practicing family law that is specialized in this area. I also have over 30 years working in the family violence area, as a volunteer and then for over 16 years practicing law. I am a former mediator where I mediated high conflict family violence cases and I have represented both victims and respondents in family violence cases. I have been appointed to represent children in abuse, neglect, and family violence cases I am a former clinical professor at UH Law where I taught law students in family law cases. I also taught substantive courses in family law and family violence. I have participated as speaker and presenter at numerous local, state, and national conferences on topic of family violence, including the impact on children. I have served and continue to serve on local, state, and national committees or agencies involving family violence topics including the National Association of Women Judges, the National Council on Juvenile and Family Court Judges, the Judicial Engagement Network fellowship of judges who hear family violence matters, and a former member of the Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress.

Judicial Q&A: Judge Kyle Carter

(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. Much more information about Democratic primary candidates, including links to the interviews and judicial Q&As, can be found on Erik Manning’s spreadsheet.

Judge Kyle Carter

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

I am Judge Kyle Carter, a life-long Democrat and native Houstonian who has served as a District Judge in Harris County for the past 13 years. I am a married father of three, and I wake up every day excited to make a positive difference in the lives of others. I am asking for your vote for the 14th Court of Appeals, Place 2.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

The Fourteenth Court of Appeals was created in 1967. The Court is composed of a Chief Justice and eight (8) justices. It has intermediate appellate jurisdiction of both civil and criminal cases appealed from lower courts in ten (10) counties of Texas (see below); in civil cases where judgment rendered exceeds $250, exclusive of costs, and other civil proceedings as provided by law; and in criminal cases except in post-conviction writs of habeas corpus and where the death penalty has been imposed. Counties served: Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Colorado, Fort Bend, Galveston, Grimes, Harris, Waller, and Washington.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

I have been a District Judge for 13 years, and am running for this position to continue making a positive difference in the lives of all Texans and serving them through the law. During my time on the bench, I have seen first-hand the need for experienced and qualified justices on the Courts of Appeals. The decision of just one appellate justice has the potential to affect millions of lives. I want to be there making those decisions, and in so doing, improve the lives of all Texans.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

I have served as judge of the 125th District Court for the past 13 years. I am board certified in Civil Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. I have won awards for my work both on the bench and in the community. Recently I received the South Texas College of Law Public Service Award, as well as the Outstanding Judicial Leadership Award from the Texas Association of District Judges. I have twice been unanimously elected to serve as President of the Texas Association of District Judges. Prior to serving on the bench, I was an associate at the Carter Law Firm. Additionally, I served as general counsel to the Texas House Committee on General Investigations and Ethics as well as the House Committee on Urban Affairs.

5. Why is this race important?

This race is extremely important because appellate justices make decisions that affect millions of people's lives. It is vitally important to have justices who understand the trial process and have served as trial judges. Trial judges understand what has taken place at the trial court level and that the court record is more than just words on a page. The appellate courts are policy courts whose decisions have wide ranging influence on how trials are conducted and the law is applied.

6. Why should people vote for you in March?

People should vote for me in the March Primary because I will continue making a positive difference in the lives of all Texans. I am a life-long Democrat and am the most qualified and experienced person in this race. I am an award-winning, board-certified trial judge who has the experience, the record, and the resources to win this race in November. Over the past 13 years I have demonstrated that I am a highly skilled judge who treats everyone who comes before me with equality, dignity, and respect. Additionally, I have a passion for serving those in need in our community. I have created two charitable organizations, Judges at Work in Schools and Judges Out in Neighborhoods and will continue my community work while serving on the Court of Appeals. Vote for better access, better equality, and better justice for a better Texas; vote for Judge Kyle Carter for the 14th Court of Appeals Place 2.

Judicial Q&A: Judge David Singer

(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. Much more information about Democratic primary candidates, including links to the interviews and judicial Q&As, can be found on Erik Manning’s spreadsheet.

Judge David Singer

1. Who are you and in which court do you preside?

David L. Singer, Judge, Harris County Criminal Court at Law #14

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

Class A and B misdemeanor criminal cases.

3. What have been your main accomplishments during your time on this bench?

In 2018 I ran on the platform of bail reform to end the cash bail system for most misdemeanor cases. After being elected, myself and the other 15 County Criminal Court Judges settled the pending Federal lawsuit against us on the cash bail system and entered into a consent decree. We also enacted new local rules on bail that implemented the consent decree to insure nobody was held in jail simply because they can’t afford small amounts of bail. Ending the cash bail system for most misdemeanor cases was long overdue. One of the greatest evils I observed in the criminal justice system in my 35 years as a lawyer was the fact that defendants would have to plead guilty just to get out jail. A misdemeanor defendant who could not afford even small bail amounts would come to court after a few days and given a Hobsons choice. Plead guilty, get time served, and go home. Or ask for a trial to contest your case, or get discovery to fight the case, and stay in jail. It led to a system that coerced guilty pleas every day. The reform brought about by the O’Donnell settlement and enacting new local rule 9, ended that problem in 2019.

Another thing I started doing to reduce the number of unnecessary encounters between the police and the citizens of our community was expanding the use of a summons instead of just issuing an arrest warrant. As a county court judge we are presented “to be” warrants every day on cases filed when the defendant is not arrested during the commission of the offense. We review probable cause, and are asked to issue a capias(warrant). For decades the practice has always been to just sign the warrant if we find PC. Some cases like a domestic violence case, may require an immediate warrant to get the defendant in front of a judge as soon as possible. But most cases do not present the same urgency for an arrest. So, on those cases I review PC and issue a summons. A letter to the defendant ordering his or her appearance in Court on a future date. If they don’t show up on that date, or contact the court for a reset, I sign the warrant at that time. Neither side is hurt by this process and in fact I am getting about 70% showing up in court. That is a significant number of folks who don’t have be put in jail by a police officer in order to be processed and put on bond in their case. I issue more summons than any other county court judge.

4. What do you hope to accomplish in your courtroom going forward?

Now that bail reform is fully implemented in the County Courts, and most defendants get pretrial release, I want to work to reduce the routine bond conditions that are ordered on many pretrial bonds. For some reason there is a feeling by many judges and others in the system that if a person is released on a personal bond they should get bond conditions “to protect the community”. I have no problem with bond conditions that are necessary to protect the community, like interlocks on repeat DWI offenders, or GPS monitors in some domestic violence cases when the defendant has demonstrated not being able to follow no contact or restraining orders. But many of the bond conditions ordered have no rational relationship to the offense committed or danger to anyone in the community. Especially drug testing in alcohol only DWI cases, other non-drug offenses, and on folks that have no drug history except maybe marijuana. The drug testing culture has to end because it without doubt disproportionally impacts poor people and people of color, and is a waste of time and money. Not to mention it effects court appearance rates. Drug testing should only be for those with severe addiction problems that are life threatening to the defendant or the community. Not just to test someone to get them to mess up so they can be put in jail and maybe plead guilty to get out. That was the old way we did it for years and it needs to end.

5. Why is this race important?

The County Criminal Court judges are being attacked for implementing bail reform by the DA’s office, law enforcement, the State legislature, bonding companies, and the media. The attacks are misleading and have little to do with the actual new rules. But there are at least 15 current Assistant DA’s running against incumbent Democratic Judges, including myself. These candidates, including my opponent, do not support the historic bail reform implemented by the current group of judges. If we want to keep the progressive changes being made in the Harris County Criminal Courts at Law, we need to support the incumbent Democratic judges in the March primary.

6. Why should people vote for you in March?

This is a criminal trial court bench, and I have been working in criminal courts on an almost daily basis for the last 38 years. Not only in Harris County, but all over the state and federal courts in Texas and other state courts. After 2 years’ experience at the 1st Court of Appeals, I spent 6 years as an Assistant District Attorney in Harris County, and then 28 years as a Criminal Defense Attorney. I have represented over 4000 citizens accused of crimes and did 15 years of indigent defense. I have been the presiding judge of County Court at Law #14 for 3+ years. I have personally 1st chaired approximately 150 jury trials. I have handled thousands of contested hearings and numerous complex cases. I also have written about 50 appellate briefs and argued about a dozen cases in the Courts of Appeals. In contrast, my opponent has only been licensed for 8 years, has only been a prosecutor, and has never represented anyone charged with a criminal offense. He has only tried a dozen or two cases as a 1st chair lawyer and never handled an appeal.

I am one of the hardest working judges by number of jury trials, docket management, and coming to the courthouse every day. I have taken none of my allotted vacation days in 3 years and used only 1 sick day. In my 3 years on the bench I have tried more cases to verdict than any other County Criminal Court Judge. During the 2020 pandemic year, my courts docket increased less than any other of the 16 County Criminal Courts in Harris County.

I am a totally self-funded candidate. As a sitting judge I do not accept campaign contributions from lawyers or anyone else. I believe I may be the only candidate not accepting donations. I just think there is an appearance of impropriety in judges taking checks from lawyers, which is the major source of funding for most judicial campaigns. I have decided not to do it.

Judicial Q&A: Samuel Milledge

(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. Much more information about Democratic primary candidates, including links to the interviews and judicial Q&As, can be found on Erik Manning’s spreadsheet.

Sam Milledge

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

My name is Samuel L. Milledge, II, or as I’m known to most around the Criminal Justice Center, Sam. I’m seeking election to the 228th District Court.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

This Court hears all Felonies, from State Jail Felonies to Capital Offenses.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

It’s a bench that I believe is ripe and susceptible to change. As a Criminal Defense Attorney, I want to bring a change to the 228th District Court I think is necessary.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

My qualifications are that I’m a Criminal Defense Trial Lawyer, who’s had a number of trials throughout the State of Texas. I’ve been practicing in the State of Texas for over ten (10) years. I not only have trial experience on the State level, but the Federal level as well.

5. Why is this race important?

This race is important to me because I believe in my vision of putting “justice” back in the Criminal Justice system.

6. Why should people vote for you in March?

People should vote for me because I’m an outside the box thinker when it comes to the law and how it should be administered. I believe in following the law. I believe in transparency. I believe in respect for all that enter into the courtroom, whether you are State’s Counsel, Defense Counsel, Accussed, or Victim. My slogan is “bringing justice and perspective to the bench.” That’s what I plan to do.

Judicial Q&A: Erika Ramirez

(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. Much more information about Democratic primary candidates, including links to the interviews and judicial Q&As, can be found on Erik Manning’s spreadsheet.

Erika Ramirez

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

My name is Erika Ramirez, and I am running to be Judge of Harris County Criminal Court at Law No. 8.

Born and raised in Houston, I was taught at a young age the importance of justice and fairness. My family is from Laredo, Texas. As a teenager, my Dad was diagnosed with Hansen’s disease (commonly known as leprosy). At that time, persons with Hansen’s were removed from society and confined, based on unfounded and unfair stereotypes and prejudices associated with the illness. As a result, my Dad was forcibly sent to the National Leprosarium in Carville, Louisiana, where he lived for several years. My Mom, his high school sweetheart, stuck by his side while he lived in Louisiana. After the unjust practice of confining persons with Hansen’s ended, my parents moved to Houston. My parents harnessed their experiences into a commitment to serve other people who found themselves needing help. They both finished their degrees, became licensed social workers, and have had long careers serving veterans, persons with mental health issues, and children. Knowing my parents’ story and growing up around them, I have always had a deep appreciation for fairness and justice, as well as the urge to speak or act when I think someone is being treated unfairly – especially those who cannot speak for themselves.

After graduating from Bellaire High School, I received a degree in Public Relations from the University of Texas- Austin. I began my career as a teacher in a small rural town in Spain. When I returned to the Texas, I worked as a Caseworker Assistant with survivors of domestic violence. It was there that I was inspired to return to law school. I graduated from South Texas College of Law-Houston and become the first attorney in my family.

I have focused my legal career on criminal law, working as an Assistant District Attorney in Harris County.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

Harris County Criminal Court at Law No. 8 is one of the sixteen misdemeanor courts that covers the entire county. Class A and B misdemeanors are heard in the court. Class A misdemeanors are punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine up to $4,000. Class B misdemeanors are punishable by up to 180 days in jail, and/or a fine up to $2,000. Some of the common types of criminal cases that appear in the court are Theft, Assaults, Driving While Intoxicated, and Criminal Mischief. These cases are important because misdemeanor courts can provide an opportunity for a great impact on the trajectory of a person’s life and our community’s collective well-being.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

Through my experiences, including my time as a case worker assistant and prosecutor, I understand the serious ramifications criminal proceedings can have on all persons involved. I greatly respect the importance of a fair and impartial process. I also understand the interconnected nature of our courts and the communities they serve. I believe that every person who enters the courtroom should be allowed to have their voice heard and to avail themselves of every and all rights permitted by our laws.

I am running for Judge of Harris County Criminal Court at Law No. 8 because I believe that the people of Harris County deserve a Judge who is respectful of the parties and the legal process, fair in applying the law, and involved in our community.

I am also running in the hope of attaining increased diversity in or judicial system.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

I have a diverse background of experiences that I believe qualify me for this position and allow me to serve Harris County as a respectful, fair, and involved Judge.
I currently work as an Assistant District Attorney in the Financial Crimes Division, where I assist victims of identify theft. In my time as a prosecutor, I have tried a multitude of criminal cases, from Class-C traffic tickets, Sex Assault of a Child, and Capital Murder. During this time, I have served Harris County by thoroughly evaluating every case and taking steps to protect the rights of the persons accused, victims, and the community. I have worked in the Trial Bureau (misdemeanor and felony cases), Juvenile Division, Domestic Violence Division, and Financial Crimes Division. I have served as a Misdemeanor Court Chief, where I supervised and trained junior attorneys. As a result, I am familiar and well-versed with the process and procedures in the County Criminal Courts at Law.

Before law school law school, I worked as a caseworker assistant at the Harris County District Attorney’s Office with the Domestic Violence Division. There, I assisted survivors by documenting their injuries and attending protective order court proceedings.

During law school, I interned with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, both in the misdemeanor and felony division; the Harris County Attorney’s Office with the Litigation Division, which focused on public nuisance suits (often massage parlors that engaged in human trafficking); the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) Division, which represented DFPS cases in the Juvenile Justice courts; and served as a guardian ad litem with Child Advocates, an organization that assists children who are in DFPS custody. My work earned me a Pro Bono College Award at South Texas College of Law two years in a row.

While in College at the University of Texas- Austin, I interned in the 310th Family Court with Judge Lisa Millard. I also worked at Baylor College of Medicine- Center for Educational Outreach. The program assisted high school students that live in the South Texas Rio Grande Valley to attend college and medical school so that they can return to serve their communities, which, unfortunately, are underserved communities.

5. Why is this race important?

Our County Criminal Courts at Law are of great importance to our community. Generally, misdemeanor cases provide an opportunity for substantial impact on the trajectory of a person’s life. It benefits our community when courts can take proactive steps to mitigate repeated entry into the criminal justice system. The important issues these courts address and serve highlight the need for a respectful, fair, and involved jurist.

6. Why should people vote for you in March?

I believe that I am the most qualified candidate for this position, and my goal is to work hard for our community. If elected, I will serve Harris County by assuring a fair, accessible, and just process for all persons who enter the courtroom. I will also remain involved and visible within our community. Early voting starts on Valentine’s Day, February 14th , through February 25th . Election day is March 1, 2022.

Interviews and judicial Q&As through January 28

Updating from last week. This is to put all of the interviews and judicial Q&As in a single post for your convenience, in case you missed something. This past week was Senate District 15. This coming week will be CD38 plus the long-awaited Candis Houston in HD142 and Chase West in HD132, with two Land Commissioner interviews for after that. After that, probably just whatever remaining judicial Q&As there are. Why? Because the week after next is when early voting starts, and at this point I don’t have the time to try to schedule more interviews.

Here’s the interview list so far, followed by the judicial Q&As. As a reminder, much more information about Democratic primary candidates, including links to the interviews and judicial Q&As, can be found on Erik Manning’s spreadsheet. Let me know if you have any questions.

Interviews

Aurelia Wagner, HD147
Danielle Bess, HD147
Jolanda Jones, HD147
Nam Subramanian, HD147
Reagan Flowers, HD147

Ben Chou, Harris County Commissioners Court Precinct 4
Ann Williams, Harris County Commissioners Court Precinct 4
Gina Calanni, Harris County Commissioners Court Precinct 4
Lesley Briones, Harris County Commissioners Court Precinct 4
Clarence Miller, Harris County Commissioners Court Precinct 4

Dylan Osborne, Harris County Treasurer (Incumbent)
Carla Wyatt, Harris County Treasurer
Marilyn Burgess, Harris County District Clerk (Incumbent)
Desiree Broadnax, Harris County District Clerk

Sen. John Whitmire, SD15
Molly Cook, SD15

Judicial Q&As

Judge Chuck Silverman, 183rd Criminal District Court
Judge Abigail Anastasio, 184th Criminal District Court
Lema Barazi, 189th Civil District Court
Judge Scott Dollinger, 189th Civil District Court
Judge Greg Glass, 208th Criminal District Court
Judge Chris Morton, 230th Criminal District Court
Judge Tristan Longino, 245th Family District Court
Angela Lancelin, 245th Family District Court
Judge Hilary Unger, 248th Criminal District Court
Dianne Curvey, 280th Family District Court
Judge Chip Wells, 312th Family District Court
Teresa Waldrop, 312th Family District Court
Judge Natalia Oakes, 313th Family District Court
Glenda Duru, 313th Family District Court
Alycia Harvey, 482nd Criminal District Court

David Patronella, County Civil Court At Law #4
Porscha Natasha Brown, County Criminal Court At Law #3
Judge Kelley Andrews, County Criminal Court At Law #6
Judge Andrew Wright, County Criminal Court At Law #7
Judge Michael Newman, County Probate Court #2

Chris Watson, Justice of the Peace, Precinct 1 Place 2
Blair McClure, Justice of the Peace, Precinct 2 Place 2
Judge Lucia Bates, Justice of the Peace, Precinct 3 Place 2
Herbert Alexander Sanchez, Justice of the Peace, Precinct 3 Place 2
Ashleigh Roberson, Justice of the Peace, Precinct 3 Place 2

Judicial Q&A: Alycia 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. Much more information about Democratic primary candidates, including links to the interviews and judicial Q&As, can be found on Erik Manning’s spreadsheet.

Alycia Harvey

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

My name is Alycia Harvey and I am running for the 482nd Criminal District Court.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

The 482nd is a new court as of 9/1/2021 that hears felony criminal cases.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

The first elected judge of this new court should be someone that has significant experience, someone who knows the law, someone who has long-standing ties to Harris county, and someone who has demonstrated a commitment to the people of Harris County as a public servant and is ready to roll up her sleeves and get to work.

After finishing a multi-victim Capital Murder trial at the beginning October, I didn’t see anyone stepping forward to take on the task that the 482 nd was presenting. At nearly the same time, I spoke with the father of a murder victim on another of my cases who inspired me to take stock of my skills and abilities, and determine what more I had to offer the people of Harris County.

I have been extraordinarily privileged to be able to represent the people of Harris County over the last 20 years as an Assistant District Attorney. I’ve worked exceedingly hard at becoming a person who is well-versed in every area of criminal law. I’d be honored to use the knowledge and courtroom training I’ve amassed to serve the people of Harris County as the 482nd District Court Judge.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

I have 20 years’ experience in criminal law. I’ve been Board Certified in Criminal Law since 2018. I’ve handled every single stage of a criminal proceeding, beginning with being physically present at crime scenes. I’ve helped investigate cases, including writing all kinds of warrants; I have significant expertise in those involving electronic communications. I’ve made charging decisions, prepared cases for trial, tried them and even done post-conviction work. I’ve investigated civil rights claims and those involving actual innocence. The depth and breadth of knowledge I have in criminal law is not something that is easy to amass or that very many people possess.

5. Why is this race important?

The criminal justice system in Harris County is under water. The 482 nd criminal district court and the litigants who have cases pending in that court do not have time to wait while a judge gets up to speed on the best way to handle the docket. As a felony district court chief with many years of experience, I am ready to handle the court and the docket from day 1.

6. Why should people vote for you in March?

I am the most experienced person in this race; I am the only one who is board certified. You may not recognize my name, but you know my cases: they’re the high-profile ones you see on the news. My experience in putting cases together for trial and in tearing them apart post-trial gives me an exceptionally wide frame of reference to know both what the law allows and what the people of Harris County expect and deserve. I’m ready to rededicate myself to a new role in Harris County public service and would be humbled to continue to serve you in a new capacity.

Judicial Q&A: Ashleigh Roberson

(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. Much more information about Democratic primary candidates, including links to the interviews and judicial Q&As, can be found on Erik Manning’s spreadsheet.

Ashleigh Roberson

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

I am Ashleigh Roberson with the Harris County Sheriff’s Department (Detention Officer). I am running for Justice of the Peace 3 Place 2 located in Baytown, Texas.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

This particular court hears the following cases:
Class C Traffic Cases (Judge/Jury Trials)
Small Claims and Debt Collections (Sequestrations)
Civil Disputes
Evictions
Occupational License
Truancy
Landlord /Tenant disputes

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

I have gained so much knowledge over the years preparing myself for this position. I started as a clerk of the court in this particular court back in 2011, I began seeking knowledge while working in the criminal department along with defendants, attorneys and school triad workers throughout the years. I was actively involved in a program at M. B. Smiley High School called, “Teen Court.” The Judge who presided over this program so happen to be in my precinct that I reside in. I knew then I could one day become a Judge and follow the legacy of what was taught in my earlier years of education.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

I sought a degree in Criminal Justice to certify myself in more court systems and practices. Through working for the Justice courts, I received a total of 5 years in clerical work later becoming the Assistant Chief Clerk. While in this position I received my certification as a Certified Clerk of the Court as I work alongside of the presiding Judge. As a young natural born leader, I continued to certify myself in the field of Criminal Justice. I was able to work for the Constables office doing multiple food drives and community events to put back into the community. While working hard during the day, I was able to seek Law Enforcement and complete the Police Academy. Now, that I am a Detention Officer (TCOLE Certified) in the Jail, I have seen a full circle of the spectrum of the system.

5. Why is this race important?

This particular race is important to me because my experience has proven over the years to prepare myself for the seat. I am a product of my community, I have been an active member of my church, community events and loyal to our seniors. With my resources and community involvement, I believe the community can help one another. Be resourceful and influential to those are in need our of help.

Knowledge is POWER.

I believe that if we come together and work along with our precinct Judge and Constables office we can make a difference in how the current view our courts are viewed.

6. Why should people vote for you in March?

I am qualified for the position because I am Hardworking, Experienced and Fair with the community. The skills I have acquired throughout the years has prepared me to represent and make the best judgments based individual unique situation. My plan is to educate high schoolers through programs that can influence a future, share with the less fortunate and keep that revolving door of criminals out of the system.

Judicial Q&A: Judge Chuck Silverman

(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. Much more information about Democratic primary candidates, including links to the interviews and judicial Q&As, can be found on Erik Manning’s spreadsheet.

Judge Chuck Silverman

1. Who are you and in which court do you preside?

I am Judge Chuck Silverman, the presiding Judge of the 183rd Criminal District Court.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

The 183rd Criminal District Court handles felony cases.

3. What have been your main accomplishments during your time on this bench?

I am proud of my many accomplishments during my tenure on the bench.

1. As evidenced by articles published in the Houston Chronicle, I was a leader of efforts to reform the felony bail system in Texas.

2. I believe that all defendants are entitled to a vigorous defense regardless of their economic status. That is why I support funding for and the use of the Public Defender's Office.

3. I am proud to partner with the Houston Gulf Coast Building & Trades Council to refer appropriate probationers to the Apprenticeship Readiness Program in order to afford such individuals the opportunity to learn a trade skill and subsequently become a productive member of the community.

4. I am proud of my ability to manage my docket during the pandemic as evidenced by the fact that my court has one of the lowest number of pending cases among the felony courts.

5. I am proud to have tried many cases, including a Capital Murder (Death Penalty), Capital Murder (Non Death Penalty) and many other serious felony cases.

4. What do you hope to accomplish in your courtroom going forward?

I will continue to build on my accomplishments. I will continue to efficiently manage my docket. I will continue to treat all parties with the respect and dignity they deserve. I will continue to be a judge that the community can be proud of.

5. Why is this race important?

We have to ensure that we have fair and unbiased representation on the bench. I am sensitive to the challenges in our judicial system and have worked in collaboration with community based organizations and advocacy groups to address issues such as bail reform, indigent defense and pathways to trade skills and employment opportunities.

6. Why should people vote for you in March?

I love my job. I wake up every day looking forward to coming to work. It is the most rewarding and fulfilling work I have ever engaged in. It's an honor to represent the people of Harris County and I would very much appreciate the opportunity to continue to do so.

With respect to the March primary, I would point out that I have been active in the Democratic Party since 1986. I have been a Precinct Chair (711), volunteered for many City, County and State Democratic Party candidates, been a long time member and supporter of Democratic Party clubs and organizations, and, unlike my opponent, have never voted in a Republican Party primary.

Judicial Q&A: Angela Lancelin

(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. Much more information about Democratic primary candidates, including links to the interviews and judicial Q&As, can be found on Erik Manning’s spreadsheet.

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

I am Angela Lancelin, a Family law practitioner with extensive litigation experience throughout Harris and contiguous counties. My main practice area has been Family law. I have handled establishment and enforcement of child support orders in Texas, under the UIFSA, collection and enforcement of unpaid child support, asset forfeiture (foreclosure suits) probate, tax lien disputes, cps litigation and contested Bankruptcy issues. I am licensed in the Southern, Northern and Eastern Bankruptcy Districts. My duties also include complex litigation on behalf of the Office of the Attorney General that has been comprised of complex post judgment litigation. I am running for the 245th District Court.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

The 245th is a Family Court where matter concerning or related to Divorce, Sapcr, Cps, Adoptions, modification, enforcement related proceedings regarding post judgment property and child support matters. Family Courts also have to rule on matters related to Bankruptcy Stays/proceedings, Probate and civil asset forfeiture matters related to collection proceedings.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

I believe being able to have a voice from the bench will allow my diverse work/ life experience and knowledge of Harris county’s underrepresented communities to further broaden my passion for public service. More specifically the current practice and policy for self-calendaring results in a lack of access to participate in the legal system. This system negatively impacts the underrepresented, low-income litigants who cannot afford or have access to internet service or a computer.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

I have 28 years of Family law experience including 26 years as an Assistant Attorney General assigned to region 6, Harris County. Designated as the Special Litigator for Regions 6, 5 and 10 (contiguous counties), to manage Bankruptcy claims and participate in adversarial hearings from date of filing to dismissal.

I have served as the IV- E (CPS) liaison in Harris and contiguous counties.

Prosecute contested hearings to establish parentage, enforce child support obligations, including child support collections in Tax, Probate, Criminal and Civil litigation matters.

Manage high volume and handle the complex litigation IV-D caseload in Harris and contiguous counties from intake to disposition.

5. Why is this race important?

This midterm election is crucial to determining if the underrepresented, low income, pro se, and private bar attorneys will be allowed meaningful access to the court.

6. Why should people vote for you in March?

I have devoted my legal career to public service. I have learned the art of active listening providing a safe place for each party to express their concerns without judgment. My distinct ability to relate and adapt to different fact patterns, combined with my compassion and knowledge of the law will provide a balanced and impartial setting.

Judicial Q&A: Dianne Curvey

(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. Much more information about Democratic primary candidates, including links to the interviews and judicial Q&As, can be found on Erik Manning’s spreadsheet.

Dianne Curvey

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

I am a native Houstonian who grew up in Houston’s Fifth Ward and graduated from MB Smiley High School in North Forest ISD. I am a mother of two and a fur-mom of three. Judge of the 280th Judicial District Court is the office is seek.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

This is a unique court in that it is the only court specifically designed to handle domestic violence cases in the state of Texas. Any and all cases in Harris County that may warrant the need for a protective order will be heard in this court. Both the District Attorney’s Office and private attorneys may use this court to protect or defend clients who either file or are accused of domestic violence. I envision this court becoming a trailblazer for the manner in which other counties handle domestic violence cases and issue protective orders.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

The reason I decided to run for this seat is because the law, under the Family Code, is not being followed. I know this because the rulings in this court have been overturned at least 26 times by the Court of Appeals due to similar improper judgments issued against Respondents. These duplicative errors lead me to believe that there is not only a misunderstanding of the applicable law, but also that there is a complete indifference for the rulings handed down from a higher court. Here is how it affects economically disadvantaged communities. The cases that were overturned were from Respondents who could afford an appellate attorney to obtain justice. Those Respondents who do not have thousands of dollars for that appellate attorney are stuck with the improper rulings that the Court of Appeals has already overturned for wealthier Respondents. That’s just not fair.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

I am a 16 year practicing attorney in the areas of Family and Criminal Law. I have handled over 2500 cases from Orange to El Paso, Texas. As a solo practitioner, I know how to manage both employees, finances, and dockets. I am a master of multitasking and rarely get rattled when things don’t go as planned. I am the only person in this race who has represented both Applicants and Respondents, which gives me a unique perspective on the people who will stand before me. I know how to be tough and extend empathy without violating the Family Code.

Before I became an attorney, I was a classroom teacher. This background provided me with the ability to understand how to work with communities different from mine with honesty and respect. No matter how disrespectful a young person became, I knew how to keep “my cool”. This is probably the most important skill I possess for the type of court I am seeking.

I have previously run for judge in 2010 and am well versed with the expectations and sacrifices that it takes to be successful.

5. Why is this race important?

Domestic violence is prevalent in all communities, but the consequences being administered seem to affect economically fragile people the hardest. Specifically, I am running because someone has to stand up for children who are losing their ability to have both parents active in their lives. Currently, this court is issuing 18 year protective orders against offenders as it pertains to them seeing their children. While it’s important to be “tough on crime”, there must also be a balance between being tough and being cruel towards the youngest victims of domestic violence. Children need both their parents, even if they only see the offending parent under a supervised setting.

In addition, there is a problem getting signed orders to the correct law enforcement agencies in a timely manner. I will push for legislation and reform that will designate a bailiff to work solely on delivering protective orders to law enforcement agencies by the end of the business day on which they have been signed.

6. Why should people vote for you in March?

The people of Harris County should entrust me with their vote because I am fair, balanced, and competent. I have the judicial temperament to speak to both applicants and respondents in a respectful manner without becoming demeaning or condescending. I am the only person in the race who has handled cases for both applicants and respondents, so I understand how to be unbiased and to see the story from both sides. I also have the foresight to understand that a protective order means nothing unless it gets to the proper law enforcement agencies in a timely manner. Overall, Harris County will be a safer place to live with the judicial temperament, wisdom, and legislative reform I hope to bring to the bench.

Interviews and judicial Q&As through January 21

Updating from last week and the week before. This is to put all of the interviews and judicial Q&As in a single post for your convenience, in case you missed something. This past week was the County Treasurer and District Clerk races. Next week will be Senate District 15 – I’ve tried to get something on the schedule with Candis Houston from HD142 but so far no luck. If it happens later, I’ll publish it later. The week after that will be CD38, and I’ve done a couple of Land Commissioner interviews for after that.

Here’s the interview list so far, followed by the judicial Q&As. As a reminder, much more information about Democratic primary candidates, including links to the interviews and judicial Q&As, can be found on Erik Manning’s spreadsheet. Let me know if you have any questions.

Interviews

Aurelia Wagner, HD147
Danielle Bess, HD147
Jolanda Jones, HD147
Nam Subramanian, HD147
Reagan Flowers, HD147

Ben Chou, Harris County Commissioners Court Precinct 4
Ann Williams, Harris County Commissioners Court Precinct 4
Gina Calanni, Harris County Commissioners Court Precinct 4
Lesley Briones, Harris County Commissioners Court Precinct 4
Clarence Miller, Harris County Commissioners Court Precinct 4

Dylan Osborne, Harris County Treasurer (Incumbent)
Carla Wyatt, Harris County Treasurer
Marilyn Burgess, Harris County District Clerk (Incumbent)
Desiree Broadnax, Harris County District Clerk

Judicial Q&As

Judge Abigail Anastasio, 184th Criminal District Court
Lema Barazi, 189th Civil District Court
Judge Scott Dollinger, 189th Civil District Court
Judge Greg Glass, 208th Criminal District Court
Judge Chris Morton, 230th Criminal District Court
Judge Tristan Longino, 245th Family District Court
Judge Hilary Unger, 248th Criminal District Court
Judge Chip Wells, 312th Family District Court
Teresa Waldrop, 312th Family District Court
Judge Natalia Oakes, 313th Family District Court
Glenda Duru, 313th Family District Court

David Patronella, County Civil Court At Law #4
Porscha Natasha Brown, County Criminal Court At Law #3
Judge Kelley Andrews, County Criminal Court At Law #6
Judge Andrew Wright, County Criminal Court At Law #7
Judge Michael Newman, County Probate Court #2

Chris Watson, Justice of the Peace, Precinct 1 Place 2
Blair McClure, Justice of the Peace, Precinct 2 Place 2
Judge Lucia Bates, Justice of the Peace, Precinct 3 Place 2
Herbert Alexander Sanchez, Justice of the Peace, Precinct 3 Place 2