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October 19th, 2022:

Interview with Commissioner Adrian Garcia

Adrian Garcia

I’m going to guess you’re probably familiar with Adrian Garcia, who is serving his first term as Harris County Commissioner in Precinct 2. He served three terms as Houston City Council member in District H, with his first election in 2003. He was then elected Sheriff, by a large margin, in 2008 and served until 2015 when he made an unsuccessful run for Mayor. After an unsuccessful primary challenge to US Rep. Gene Green in 2016, he returned to county politics by knocking off two-term Commissioner Jack Morman in 2018. He’s facing Morman again and he’s had himself a busy term on Commissioner’s Court. I could have talked to him for a lot longer than I did – there’s just so much to cover – but I did my best to hit the highlights. You can listen to it all here:

PREVIOUSLY:

All interviews and Q&As through the primary runoffs
Rochelle Garza – Attorney General
Susan Hays – Ag Commissioner
Luke Warford – Railroad Commissioner
Michelle Palmer – SBOE6
Chuck Crews – HD128
Cam Campbell – HD132
Stephanie Morales – HD138
Robin Fulford – CD02
Laura Jones – CD08
Teneshia Hudspeth – Harris County Clerk
Amy Hinojosa – HCDE Trustee, Precinct 2
Andrea Duhon – HCDE Trustee, Precinct 4

As always, everything you could want to know about the Democratic candidates can be found at the Erik Manning spreadsheet.

Judicial Q&A: Judge Beau Miller

(Note: As I have done in past elections, I am running a series of Q&As for Democratic judicial candidates. This is intended to help introduce the candidates and their experiences to my readers. This year it’s mostly incumbents running for re-election, so it’s an opportunity to hear that talk about what they have accomplished. I am running these responses in the order that I receive them from the candidates. For more information about these and other Democratic candidates, including links to interviews and Q&As from the primary and runoff, see the Erik Manning spreadsheet.)

Judge Beau Miller

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

My name is Beau Miller and I am seeking re-election as the Judge of the 190th Judicial (Civil) District Court.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

A civil district court hears, among other things, matters involving constitutional questions, business disputes, land disputes, personal injury claims, and expunctions.

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

During the Pandemic, I was the first judge in Harris County to preside over a Zoom bench trial during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the first judge in Harris County to preside over the first in-person jury trial during COVID-19.

In addition, I was responsible for producing the District Court of Harris County’s COVID-19 in-person jury trial information campaign which consisted of a website, www.HarrisCountyJuryService.com, pamphlet, and video highlighting the safety procedures and protocols in place for in-person jury trials in Harris County.

While on the bench, I have served as Chair of the Harris County District Courts’ Civil Trial Division’s Ethics and Continuing Legal Education Committee in 2020 and 2021 as well Co-Chair of the Houston Bar Association’s 2021-2022 LGBTQ+ Committee for which I received the Houston Bar Association’s President’s Award.

Currently, I am the Administrative Judge for the Harris County District Courts’ Civil Trial Division, Co-Chair of the Houston Bar Association’s 2022-2023 Civil/Appellate Bench Bar Conference Committee, and Co-Chair of the Houston Bar Association’s 2022-2023 LGBTQ+ Committee. In addition to my own docket, I am the Pretrial Judge of the Multidistrict Litigation In re July 27 Chemical Release Litigation and In re Channelview Flooding Litigation.

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

My goal over the next four years is to continue to work hard to get cases resolved timely, fairly, efficiently, and effectively all the while treating everyone with respect who participates in our legal process.

5. Why is this race important?

As you might expect, judges have great power in how cases move through our judicial process. Without the right person on the bench, a case or dispute important to you or to someone you know may not get resolved as fairly and efficiently as it should. That could needlessly delay justice and increase costs and fees.

6. Why should people vote for you in November?

Over the last four years, I have a proven track record of treating everyone with respect and disposing the cases in my court fairly and efficiently. Before I took the bench in 2019, it took about 4-6 weeks for a case to get a hearing on any motion in 190th Civil District Court and the court had the average number of total cases across the entire civil trial division (24 civil courts). In my first month on the bench, we worked very hard to reduce the time to get a hearing to 2-3 weeks, which is still the case. And over the last three years, even despite the pandemic, the 190th now has one of the lowest case inventories across the entire division. If re-elected, I will keep working hard for our broader Houston community to be even more efficient while continuing to ensure everyone is treated fairly and with respect.

State Bar complaint against Ted Cruz was dismissed

This story ran a few days ago.

Not Ted Cruz

A lawyer group that brought ethics complaints against Trump attorneys is trying to make it tougher for lawyers to use the legal system to overturn elections.

The group, called the 65 Project, aims to change bar rules of professional conduct in 50 states and the District of Columbia to eliminate “fraudulent and malicious lawsuits” against fair election results.

“Lawyers purport to be self-regulatory and special stewards of the rule of law,” Paul Rosenzweig, a group advisory board member, told reporters Wednesday. “They failed in that responsibility” with the 2020 election.

The effort is a new front in the group’s self-described battle to protect democracy from abuse of the legal system. 65 Project has already filed 55 state bar ethics complaints against lawyers for former President Donald Trump over their efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

The group’s targets have included former Foley & Lardner partner Cleta Mitchell, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and lawyers Joseph diGenova and Boris Epshteyn.

Part of 65 Project’s new effort includes proposing rules to prevent attorneys in public office from violating attorney standards by amplifying false statements about elections.

The group is focusing initially on about a dozen states, including Ohio, Wisconsin, Texas, and Pennsylvania, and DC, said Michael Teter, a former Utah assistant attorney general who is Project 65’s managing director.

See here for the background. The Bloomberg Law story says that all of the 65 Project’s complaints are active, but that is not accurate. According to the DMN, which I was able to quickly peruse before the paywall came up, the complaint was dismissed by the State Bar of Texas on June 13, a few weeks after it was filed. The reason, as noted in the sub-head of the story, is that the State Bar said they lacked oversight since Cruz was acting as a Senator and not a lawyer; their dismissal letter didn’t address the merits of the complaint. A minor consolation, that. We are still waiting for a ruling in the complaint against Ken Paxton; a ruling by a different judge in the case against Paxton deputy Brent Webster does not bode well for the complainants, but I suppose it’s not over till it’s over. There’s still a possible appeal of that ruling, which as far as I know has not yet been filed. I fear all of them will get away with it, which is too depressing to contemplate. We’ll know soon enough.

Endorsement watch: A smattering

The Chron endorses Stephanie Morales, the Democratic challenger in HD138.

Stephanie Morales

Stephanie Morales began her interview with the editorial board with a story about children who wind up in the care of Child Protective Services, fleeing harsh conditions at home only to find themselves sleeping in somebody’s office because the agency is so strapped for resources. Such are the heartbreaking realities that motivated her to run for the Texas House.

“I knew that there was a need,” she told us. “This is the perfect place for me to run where I can actually make a difference, because we need someone who has been boots-on-the-ground, actually representing kids and parents to truly change the system.”

Morales is a Texas A&M and South Texas College of Law-educated criminal defense lawyer whose cases often involve parents and juveniles in the CPS system. In her meeting with us, she talked at length about the “unintended consequences” of recent legislation meant to improve how the agency works. She displayed an expertise that would benefit the Legislature, and her constituents. She wants to add funding for more trauma-informed courts like the ones in use in Harris County, and to build and fund a halfway-house program for people who age out of the foster care system.

Morales, 33, is running for House District 138, which covers Jersey Village, Spring Branch and other parts of west Harris County. She argues that she’ll be more civically engaged, particularly with supporting children’s needs, than Republican incumbent Lacey Hull. “This district needs someone who will really advocate for them and wrangle resources that we need here,” she said.

She told us that her legislative priorities also would include bolstering protections against flooding, passing whatever “commonsense” gun-safety laws might be possible, improving the credit-recapture system in Texas schools and increasing teacher pay.

Hull was another Republican who didn’t bother to screen with them, and the Chron rightly dings her for her anti-trans activism. This is as noted one of the few competitive State House districts in the area, likely the only one in Harris County that has a chance of flipping. I’ll be very interested to see how it performs in comparison to 2020. You can listen to my interview with Stephanie Morales, who is indeed a strong candidate and would make a fine legislator, here.

Elsewhere, the Chron endorses three Republican Supreme Court incumbents, two Republican CCA incumbents, the Libertarian candidate in CD22, as the Republican incumbent is an insurrection-loving MAGA-head and the Democratic candidate appears to be an apparition, State Rep. Jon Rosenthal, now in a much bluer district, US Rep. Sylvia Garcia, and a bunch of Criminal District Court nominees, slightly more than half of whom are Dem incumbents. They still have a ton of races to get to, and as has been the case in a number of elections they will have to do many of them after voting has begun.