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?
My name is Andres Pereira. I am a Native Houstonian, trial lawyer, committed public citizen, and longtime Democratic activist. I am running for Judge of the 190th District Court (Civil).
2. What kind of cases does this court hear?
These courts have plenary, or full, jurisdiction, handling both state and federal matters. Generally, District Courts can hear all matters with certain minimum amounts in controversy unless the jurisdiction for that matter has been placed with another court. Specifically, examples of the types of cases this court might hear include commercial cases, contract disputes, premises liability or "slip and fall" cases, consumer and some class-action litigation, employment disputes, medical malpractice cases, and motor vehicle accidents. This court does not hear family, criminal, probate, or juvenile justice matters or specialized federal cases like bankruptcy.
3. Why are you running for this particular bench?
I chose to run for the office of judge because I believe in the power of the judiciary and the jury system--the ability of twelve ordinary citizens to resolve conflicts and find the truth in a civil and orderly way. I chose to run for District Court as opposed to Justice or County Court because the nature of the cases and the procedures are slightly more complex and most like the cases with which I have the most experience. The 190th was vacant at the time I decided to run.
4. What are your qualifications for this job?
I worked as an attorney for twelve years in a nationally known litigation firm handling complex multi-million dollar trial work for clients around the world. I have represented tens of thousands of plaintiffs against large corporate interests. I recently opened my own practice, primarily handling multi-district product liability litigation. I have represented individuals, businesses, and governments, have argued cases at the trial and appellate levels in state and federal courts, and have argued cases before the Texas Supreme Court. I was recognized in law school for outstanding legal research and writing, and I clerked for Texas Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Doggett.
I was screened by a committee working with Democratic Party to recruit qualified candidates. I was determined to be a well-qualified candidate, and I have been endorsed by the head of the screening committee.
I am fluent in Spanish, which is an important communication skill in Harris County.
5. Why is this race important?
We are at a crossroads, and these races are critically important. The 2008 elections will determine the direction our courts will take, which will in turn determine how our laws are interpreted and applied for decades. Currently, all Harris County District Court seats and all of the appellate court seats in our district are occupied by Republicans. The result has been a highly politicized judiciary that in many cases favors special interests over the public interest, the erosion of individual rights, and a wholesale attack on the principle of trial by jury. I have spent my entire professional career providing a voice to individuals against large corporate interests, but I am concerned that those voices are becoming increasingly more difficult to hear. We need to change the direction that our entire legal system is headed before many of the rights we once took for granted are no longer available to us as citizens.
6. Why should people vote for you in November?
People should vote for me because I truly care about justice. I have ample litigation experience in the most complex kinds of cases, which has prepared me for the most complicated cases that may come before me.
As a judge, I will always elevate principles above divisive politics and partisanship, because real justice knows no political party. Personally, I am committed to serving every citizen of Harris County who appears in my court with the respect that s/he deserves from a public servant. I am thoughtful, intellectual, passionate about the law, respectful, courteous, and humble. Most importantly, I am genuinely dedicated to finding the best result in each case by carefully synthesizing all of the information provided to me by the counselors and litigants that appear in my courtroom. In short, I will be the kind of judge who will not just listen, but who will actually hear, not just with my ears, but with an open mind and an open heart.
Dion Ramos, 55th Civil Judicial District Court.
Shawna Reagin, 176th District Criminal Court.
Al Bennett, 61st Civil Judicial District Court.
Judge Jim Jordan, Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court.
Mike Miller, 11th Civil Judicial District Court.
I happen to know Andres, and while he is a decent human being (although kind of an oddball) I have serious concerns about his fitness to be on the state civil trial bench.
After many discussions with him about the judiciary, I know that he thinks that judges should be able to elevate their personal opinions about what they think the law should be over what the law actually is. He definitely sees the role of the judge as being more of "little guy v. big guy" than as an impartial umpire calling balls and strikes based upon the law, as Chief Justice John Roberts described the role of the model jurist in his confirmation testimony.
If there was a federal circuit whose viewpoints on the law most closely resembled Andres's, it would easily be the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
Although perhaps not directly applicable to his potential duties as state civil trial judge, I've observed Andres to have a really serious drug problem and he told me that he has had a few DWIs.
Andres is a good guy who I think means well, but I just don't think he would be the type of judge we need on the state bench.Posted by: J. Frederick on September 14, 2008 2:13 PM