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January 24th, 2022:

Interview with Sen. John Whitmire

Sen. John Whitmire

We’re going to spend some time in SD15 this week, where we have one of the challenges against a legislative incumbent. You know that incumbent well, he’s Sen. John Whitmire, he’s been in the Lege since 1973 and in the Senate since the 80s. You also know him because I’ve interviewed him before. Sen. Whitmire is the senior member of the State Senate, he’s the longtime Chair of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee where he’s still able to get things done even in Dan Patrick’s Senate, and he has a long list of accomplishments. He’s also announced that he intends to run for Mayor of Houston in 2023, which is one of the things I asked him about in the interview:

As with the judicial Q&A’s, more information about Democratic primary candidates, including links to the interviews and judicial Q&As, can be found on Erik Manning’s spreadsheet. I will periodically round up the links to these posts as well.

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.

Supreme Court to hear whether state redistricting lawsuit can proceed

Here’s the update I’ve been waiting for. Not what I was hoping for, but it is what it is.

The state’s bid to toss a legal challenge arguing last year’s GOP-led redistricting effort violated the Texas Constitution is headed to the state Supreme Court, which accepted the case Friday.

The all-Republican Supreme Court set oral arguments on March 23, well after the March 1 primary election.

The Legislature’s GOP mapmakers last fall approved new political lines that could cement Republicans’ grip on power for the next decade and blunt the voting strength of nonwhite voters who fueled Texas’ population surge.

As federal lawsuits over the new maps pile up, some Democrats are focusing on fights in state court. In two combined cases, a group of mostly Democratic, Latino lawmakers from both chambers challenged the constitutionality of when and how Republicans drew the boundaries.

After two days of oral arguments in December, a three-judge state district court ruled against temporarily blocking the new legislative maps, but set a trial for January. Texas then appealed the court’s denial of its motions to dismiss the case, putting the trial on hold.

The lawmakers’ attorneys said they don’t seek to overturn the maps for the 2022 election cycle but argued for expedited resolution of the appeal “to allow sufficient time for the parties to litigate the merits before the 2023 legislative session.”

“For decades, MALC has defended the freedom to vote and equal access to the ballot box. We are not surprised that (Texas Attorney General) Ken Paxton would attempt to undermine our members and the millions of Texas voices they represent,” said state Rep. Rafael Anchia, chair of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, one of the challengers against the maps.

[…]

The consolidated case was assigned to a special three-judge panel of Democrat Karin Crump and Republicans Emily Miskel and Ken Wise. If the state Supreme Court affirms the lower court’s decision, “the parties need sufficient time to return to the special three-judge district court, obtain a final judgment, and complete any appeal from that judgment,” the challengers said in a filing.

See here for the previous update. I’ve been scouring the news for the past two weeks because I knew that proposed trial date was coming up. I had not seen an item about the state’s appeal, so the lack of news about the trial was confusing to me – was this really not being covered, or was there a delay of some kind. Turns out it was the latter. Maybe if I’d spent more time on Twitter I might have seen something to that effect, but too much time on Twitter is its own hazard. Point is, this litigation will not derail the March primaries. Like the litigation over Harris County Commissioners Court redistricting, it may eventually end with a ruling that will force a change to the new maps, but it cannot and will not affect this election.

Anyway, so SCOTx will decide whether to toss the two combined lawsuits or to allow the trial to proceed. Hopefully they will do this in a timely manner, so that we might have a resolution in time for the 2023 legislature to address any remaining questions. Which, let’s be clear, could be a double-edged sword, though at least on the county line question it’s more likely to be good for Democrats if the plaintiffs win and the districts in Cameron County need to be redrawn. And speaking of timing, SCOTx accepted this appeal on the same day that they also accepted the SB8 litigation from the Fifth Circuit. Thanks, I hate it.

One more thing, on a side note:

That’s the Sen. Powell lawsuit. So there is still one thing that could throw a kink into the March primaries. I’ll keep an eye on that.

They’re the Space Cowboys

Bet you weren’t ready for that.

You can call them the Space Cowboys.

That’s the name the Astros have picked in their rebranding of the Sugar Land Skeeters, the team’s Class AAA affiliate.

The official announcement will come on Jan. 29 at Constellation Field (no rebranding needed) but a person with knowledge of the change confirmed the new name.

The Skeeters started as an independent team in the Atlantic League in 2012 and drew its own fan base attracted to the lower prices and family atmosphere of the new stadium in Sugar Land along with the occasional celebrity sightings on the mound like Tracy McGrady or Roger Clemens.

The Skeeters went big time last year when the Astros bought the franchise and turned it into their Class AAA affiliate.

Go ahead, make your “pompatus of love” joke, get it out of your system. The Skeeters, whose name (the team has insisted) does not refer to mosquitos, have been called that since 2010. I see from that last link I had favored “Imperials” as their name, which is fine and all but seems now to lack a certain grandeur. As the story notes, there will be an event at Constellation Field to make official the re-branding. It’s a nice facility, if you feel comfortable being in a crowd right now, and I’m sure that will be fun. I don’t know if that logo I found on Twitter is for real or not – I hope it is – but I presume you’ll be able to see for yourself on the 29th. Good luck with the launch, y’all. CultureMap has more.