Note: This entry is part of a series of written Q&As with judicial candidates who will be on the ballot in Harris County. I am also doing recorded interviews with non-judicial candidates.
1. Who are you, and what are you running for?
Alfred H. "Al" Bennett, Democratic Candidate for the 61st Judicial District Court, Harris County, Texas.
2. What kind of cases does this court hear?
District courts are generally courts of general jurisdiction. In short, the district courts have concurrent jurisdiction with the statutory county courts in civil cases where the amount in controversy exceeds $500 but is less than $100,000, and exclusive jurisdiction where the amount in controversy is $100,000 or more.
3. Why are you running for this particular bench?
The 61st Civil District bench is a very historic bench for Harris County. Created in 1903, it has had several judges of note, including Judge Walter Monteith (later Mayor of Houston) and Judge Shearn Smith (architect of the modern day jury service system). I want to continue the fine public service tradition established by these notable jurists as the next judge of the 61st District Court.
4. What are your qualifications for this job?
After graduating from the University of Texas School of Law, one the finest law schools in the country, I immediately started practicing law at the firm of Fulbright & Jaworski. I later worked at the litigation firm of Solar & Fernandes for several years before starting my own practice, Law Offices of Alfred H. Bennett, in 1998. Also, since 2003, I have served as an Adjunct Professor of Law at the Thurgood Marshall School of Law teaching second-year law students how to try lawsuits. Additionally, I am a Certified Mediator, having received my training at the A.A. White Dispute Resolution Center located at the University of Houston Law School in August 2007.
5. Why is this race important?
The 2008 judicial races in general are important because the citizens of Harris County finally have the opportunity to restore fairness, balance, and integrity to our judicial system. Currently only Republicans sit on Harris County's twenty-five civil district benches. When elected, I and my fellow Democrats will treat each person who enters the courtroom with the courtesy, dignity, and respect they deserve and administer justice even-handedly.
6. Why should people vote for you in November?
I believe the experience I've gained in the courthouse during seventeen years of practice and out in the community as an involved citizen will allow me to bring a fair and balanced prospective to this important and historic civil bench.
Dion Ramos, 55th Civil Judicial District Court.
Shawna Reagin, 176th District Criminal Court.