Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

Stanley Santire

Endorsement watch: Two more benches

Bench One:

Judge, 313th Judicial District: Natalia Oakes

Natalia Oakes, 66, earns our support in this primary contest against a qualified opponent, John Stephen Liles. Although Liles has spent nearly twice as long as a member of the bar, Oakes has more experience in juvenile courts. Voters should want a candidate with that specific focus to serve on this specialty bench.

Both candidates favor a rehabilitative approach for juveniles. But while Liles emphasizes vocational training, Oakes displays a deeper knowledge of area rehabilitation and mental health resources. She has dedicated her legal career to helping children and her background as a teacher makes her well-suited to evaluate the most effective programs available to guide young people to a second chance in leading a successful life. Voters should give this Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University graduate the chance she requests “to roll up my sleeves and get to work.”

I’ve got a Q&A for Oakes in the queue – it will publish on Monday. A Q&A for Tracy Good, who is also in this race but apparently didn’t screen with the Chron, is here.

Bench Two:

Judge, County Civil Court-at-Law Court No. 2: Jim F. Kovach

Democratic voters have a choice between two qualified candidates with very different backgrounds. Jim F. Kovach is a former board chair of Legacy Community Health who has spent more than 20 years working almost exclusively in Harris County civil courts at law. Stanley Santire is a former military officer with extensive national and international experience, including working as chief legal counsel at Lockheed Aircraft International.

We encourage voters to back Kovach, 52, a graduate of the University of Houston Law Center. While Santire has an impressive career, Kovach has the on-the-ground experience in these specific courts that makes for a qualified judge.

I don’t have a Q&A from Kovach, but I do have one from Santire, which is here. That link also contains endorsements for two Republican primaries on these benches.

Judicial Q&A: Stanley Santire

(Note: As I have done in past elections, I am running a series of Q&As for judicial candidates in contested Democratic primaries. This is intended to help introduce the candidates and their experiences to those who plan to vote in March. I am running these responses in the order that I receive them from the candidates. You can see other Q&As and further information about judicial candidates on my 2018 Judicial page.

Stanley Santire

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

I am Stanley Santire, former line officer in the U.S Navy, former chief legal counsel for Lockheed Aircraft International, a trial lawyer of three decades, a mediator for two decades, and currently a declared Democratic candidate running for Harris County Civil Court at Law No 2.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

This is a statutory county court at law court.

The jurisdiction of this court in Harris County is the same type of cases heard by District Courts in Harris County except that the controversy cannot exceed $200,000 excluding interest, statutory or punitive damages and attorney fees. This is not as severe a limit as might appear. For example, in workplace discrimination cases under Texas Chapter 21 which covers situations of harassment and discrimination in race, color, sex, national origin, religion, and age, the economic damages are almost always under $200,000 yet the substantive amounts in such cases are primarily punitive, exemplary, and attorney fees, none of which are excluded from County Courts at Law by the cap.

The statutory County Courts at Law also takes appeals from Justice of the Peace Courts as well as workers’ compensation claims regardless of amounts involved.

These Courts in Harris County also have exclusive jurisdiction in certain eminent domain proceedings.

These courts also have jurisdiction to:

    1. i. Decide issues of title to real or personal property,
    1. ii. Hear suits for enforcement of liens on real property,
    1. iii. Hear suits for forfeiture of a corporate charter,
    1. iv. Hear suits on right to property valued at $200 or more that has been levied on under a writ of execution, sequestration, or attachment,
    1. v. Hear a suit for recovery of real property.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

Commitment to justice for each and every individual that appears in the court without regard to race, color, gender, orientation, financial status, or any other characteristic other than a sincere striving for fair and equitable treatment under the law.

As an experienced trial lawyer and mediator, I have the qualifications and devotion to justice that will enhance the reputation of this court for having the highest standards of a jurist.

The Civil County Courts at Law need a higher caliber of jurist than have sometimes been the case. Someone of my experience will address that.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

I have:

    1. i. Over three decades of trial experience in State and Federal District Courts, the vast majority of my cases being tried to a jury. My cases have primarily dealt with civil rights, employment law, construction, trade secrets, non-compete covenants, and business transactions.
    1. ii. I have been lead counsel in appeals in both State and Federal Appellate courts. I have also handled cases in arbitration, including international arbitration
    1. iii. I have two decades of experience as a mediator and recently recognized as a Distinguished Mediator by the Texas Mediator Credentialing Association. As a consequence I have a proven record for dealing with lawyers and their clients in an even-handed, respectful manner. This is vital in maintaining a proper environment for justice in a court.
    1. iv. My dedication to the legal profession has gone beyond trying and mediating cases. I have had numerous professional published articles and frequently been honored by the State Bar of Texas and the Houston Bar Association as well as other professional organizations to be a presenter at continuing legal education programs.
    1. v. I was been honored by a request from the University of Houston to appear in a University produced video dealing with sexual harassment and affirmative action. That video is in the public domain and can be seen on YouTube under the title “Stanley Santire Public Service Talk on Employment Law.”
    1. vi. I have been, and continue to be, active in various professional organizations such as the Texas Bar College for whom I have been a presenter at Statewide programs, member of the Board of Directors of the Harris County Democratic Lawyers Association, Board of Directors and former President of the Houston Chapter of the National Employment Lawyers Association, and member of the Trade Secrets Committee of the Intellectual Property Section of the State Bar of Texas.
    1. vii. In addition I have long served the County as a volunteer mediator for the Harris County Dispute Resolution Center and served the State such as when I was Chairman of the State appointed Economic Development Committee that drafted the legislation for the Texas Coastal Zone Management Program which continues to play a vital role in protecting the Texas coastline.

5. Why is this race important?

All judicial positions are important as the bulwark of a democratic republic. At this time, due to the stresses impacting our society, we need a qualified, experienced judiciary at every level that stands for fairness and integrity.

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

I am the most qualified candidate for the position in regard to any other candidate as well as the incumbent in this court. I have tried a wider range of cases in both State and Federal Courts as well as been lead counsel in State and Federal appeals. I have also been lead counsel in arbitrations both in the United States and Geneva, Switzerland. I have also been an arbitrator. In other words I have vastly more experience than the incumbent judge even considering her time on the bench. If I ascend to the bench it will be because of my legal experience and not due to an initial political appointment. Incidentally, in addition to being an experienced trial and appellate lawyer, I was recently designated a Distinguished Mediator by the Texas Mediator Credentialing Association.