Judicial Q&A: Judge Scot Dollinger

(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.

Scot Dollinger

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

I am Scot “dolli” Dollinger, Judge of the 189th Civil District Court, Harris County Texas.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

Harris County divides its 61 District Courts into four parts: civil (24), criminal (23), family (11) and juvenile (3).

The 189th Civil District Court hears every kind of case except those involving criminal, family or juvenile matters. The court hears mostly personal injury and commercial litigation disputes but also handles other kinds of cases like employment, civil rights, defamation and property tax cases. The court also has the power to issue injunctions – orders which prevent people from taking certain actions.

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

I more than doubled the number of jury trials tried every year. My predecessor normally tried 10 jury trials per year. My first year on the bench I tried 26 jury trials. In 2021, I tried more jury trials than any other civil district court judge.

I am polite to everyone and know people need prompt fair decisions. I consistently either rule from the bench or within five days of the hearing.

I am 100% paperless and sign every ORDER electronically which reduces the time for the ORDER to be viewable on the District Clerk’s website.

When COVID-19 came, I joined with my other civil judges in holding hearings via zoom technology and plan on keeping zoom as a valuable tool to make hearings easier to conduct.

I marry same sex couples. Before I took the bench, the presiding judges would not marry same sex couples. I conduct marriages for all people eligible to be married.

I make pies for all my juries. It’s my way of saying “thank you for your service.” Good government is about bringing people together to solve problems. That’s what juries are – problem solvers. Nothing brings people together like homemade pie.

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

Going forward, I want to build upon the work of the last three years and continue to try a large number of cases and implement case evaluation systems to better manage the court’s docket to help reduce backlogs caused by limited courtroom space created by Harvey and COVID-19.

5. Why is this race important?

Who your judge is matters.

This race is important because we need experienced trial judges on our benches. I am the most experienced candidate running for this position. I have been licensed to practice law for over 34 years. I am Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law – Texas Board of Legal Specialization. I am a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) – one must be an experienced trial lawyer to gain membership. Before taking the bench, I tried over 30 jury trials. Since taking the bench, over the last three years, I tried 45 jury trials. I have been doing the work of this court for over 34 years. I am dedicated to the right to trial by jury. The only thing that slowed us down in terms of jury trials was COVID-19, but even then we adapted and eventually returned to a high rate of trying cases.

This race is important because of diversity on the bench. The Civil Ten – elected in 2018 – consist of an incredibly talented diverse group of people: seven women and three men. Two judges are African-American, two are Hispanic, one Vietnamese, one Pakistani and one LGBTQ+. I am the only white heterosexual male of the 10. I am a piece of the diversity rainbow. A vote for me is a vote for diversity.

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

I am the more qualified candidate with a heart for the people having received endorsements in 2018 from the following groups:

• Houston Chronicle
• Houston Association of Women Attorneys
• Pasadena Bar Association
• Mexican American Bar Association of Houston
• Houston Lawyers Association
• Texas Democrats with Disabilities
• Bay Area New Democrats
• Area Five Democrats
• Tejano Democrats, Harris County
• Harris County Labor Assembly C.O.P.E., AFL – CIO
• Communications Workers of America 6222 (CWA)
• Houston GLBT Political Caucus
• Our Revolution – Harris County Chapter
• Texas Coalition of Black Democrats – Harris County
• Houston Black American Democrats
• Texas Progressive Executive Council
• Bay Area Democratic Movement.

The endorsement process has just started and so no group has yet made endorsements for 2022, but I hope to obtain renewed support from the above groups. As endorsements are made, I will post them on my website: www.dolli4judge.com.

Any positive my opponents have, I have also but more and better. For example, I believe I have tried more civil district court cases, handled more appeals from the district courts and clerked with a federal judge. I am board certified, I have run my own firm and I have consistently hired diversely.

I have a strong work ethic which I bring to every task including campaigning and understanding what is necessary to win in Harris County. I have been campaigning for over a year. In 2014, when I was on the ballot in Harris County running for Civil Court No. 2, I made more phone calls than any other Democratic candidate.

Before I took the bench, I represented individuals, not institutions, virtually my entire practice. I worked as a defense lawyer for eight years being hired to defend people who were accused of hurting others. So, I understand the law from a defense lawyer’s perspective. I worked as a plaintiff lawyer for 22 years before taking the bench helping people who had been hurt. So, I understand the law from a plaintiff’s lawyer perspective. I clerked for a federal judge and worked as a District Court Judge for almost three years. So, I understand the law from a judge’s perspective.

I am a proven product. You know what you are getting when you vote for me.

I understand the courts belong to all the people. Judges are trustees of the judicial power given to our courts. That power must be exercised with the utmost good faith and checked at every turn to battle against the tendency for power to be abused.

I understand the law is here to protect the weak from the strong and powerful. The law levels the playing field. The end of all government is justice for all – equal protection and fairness are corner stones of the house of justice. There are two things difficult for any person to accept:

– Being unjustly harmed/wronged;
– Being unjustly accused.

For every matter at issue, our courts must be respected and known for properly sorting out which is which. If a person has been unjustly wronged, then the courts must give and provide proper remedies. If a person has been unjustly accused, then the courts must release the wrongly accused and deny the accuser the remedy sought.

My work and life experience have prepared me for this job. If re-elected, I am ready, willing and able to continue serving my community well. Please vote for me. I am asking for your vote. Thank you.

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