Judicial Q&A: Judge David Singer

(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.

Judge David Singer

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

David L. Singer, Judge, Harris County Criminal Court at Law #14

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

Class A and B misdemeanor criminal cases.

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

In 2018 I ran on the platform of bail reform to end the cash bail system for most misdemeanor cases. After being elected, myself and the other 15 County Criminal Court Judges settled the pending Federal lawsuit against us on the cash bail system and entered into a consent decree. We also enacted new local rules on bail that implemented the consent decree to insure nobody was held in jail simply because they can’t afford small amounts of bail. Ending the cash bail system for most misdemeanor cases was long overdue. One of the greatest evils I observed in the criminal justice system in my 35 years as a lawyer was the fact that defendants would have to plead guilty just to get out jail. A misdemeanor defendant who could not afford even small bail amounts would come to court after a few days and given a Hobsons choice. Plead guilty, get time served, and go home. Or ask for a trial to contest your case, or get discovery to fight the case, and stay in jail. It led to a system that coerced guilty pleas every day. The reform brought about by the O’Donnell settlement and enacting new local rule 9, ended that problem in 2019.

Another thing I started doing to reduce the number of unnecessary encounters between the police and the citizens of our community was expanding the use of a summons instead of just issuing an arrest warrant. As a county court judge we are presented “to be” warrants every day on cases filed when the defendant is not arrested during the commission of the offense. We review probable cause, and are asked to issue a capias(warrant). For decades the practice has always been to just sign the warrant if we find PC. Some cases like a domestic violence case, may require an immediate warrant to get the defendant in front of a judge as soon as possible. But most cases do not present the same urgency for an arrest. So, on those cases I review PC and issue a summons. A letter to the defendant ordering his or her appearance in Court on a future date. If they don’t show up on that date, or contact the court for a reset, I sign the warrant at that time. Neither side is hurt by this process and in fact I am getting about 70% showing up in court. That is a significant number of folks who don’t have be put in jail by a police officer in order to be processed and put on bond in their case. I issue more summons than any other county court judge.

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

Now that bail reform is fully implemented in the County Courts, and most defendants get pretrial release, I want to work to reduce the routine bond conditions that are ordered on many pretrial bonds. For some reason there is a feeling by many judges and others in the system that if a person is released on a personal bond they should get bond conditions “to protect the community”. I have no problem with bond conditions that are necessary to protect the community, like interlocks on repeat DWI offenders, or GPS monitors in some domestic violence cases when the defendant has demonstrated not being able to follow no contact or restraining orders. But many of the bond conditions ordered have no rational relationship to the offense committed or danger to anyone in the community. Especially drug testing in alcohol only DWI cases, other non-drug offenses, and on folks that have no drug history except maybe marijuana. The drug testing culture has to end because it without doubt disproportionally impacts poor people and people of color, and is a waste of time and money. Not to mention it effects court appearance rates. Drug testing should only be for those with severe addiction problems that are life threatening to the defendant or the community. Not just to test someone to get them to mess up so they can be put in jail and maybe plead guilty to get out. That was the old way we did it for years and it needs to end.

5. Why is this race important?

The County Criminal Court judges are being attacked for implementing bail reform by the DA’s office, law enforcement, the State legislature, bonding companies, and the media. The attacks are misleading and have little to do with the actual new rules. But there are at least 15 current Assistant DA’s running against incumbent Democratic Judges, including myself. These candidates, including my opponent, do not support the historic bail reform implemented by the current group of judges. If we want to keep the progressive changes being made in the Harris County Criminal Courts at Law, we need to support the incumbent Democratic judges in the March primary.

6. Why should people vote for you in March?

This is a criminal trial court bench, and I have been working in criminal courts on an almost daily basis for the last 38 years. Not only in Harris County, but all over the state and federal courts in Texas and other state courts. After 2 years’ experience at the 1st Court of Appeals, I spent 6 years as an Assistant District Attorney in Harris County, and then 28 years as a Criminal Defense Attorney. I have represented over 4000 citizens accused of crimes and did 15 years of indigent defense. I have been the presiding judge of County Court at Law #14 for 3+ years. I have personally 1st chaired approximately 150 jury trials. I have handled thousands of contested hearings and numerous complex cases. I also have written about 50 appellate briefs and argued about a dozen cases in the Courts of Appeals. In contrast, my opponent has only been licensed for 8 years, has only been a prosecutor, and has never represented anyone charged with a criminal offense. He has only tried a dozen or two cases as a 1st chair lawyer and never handled an appeal.

I am one of the hardest working judges by number of jury trials, docket management, and coming to the courthouse every day. I have taken none of my allotted vacation days in 3 years and used only 1 sick day. In my 3 years on the bench I have tried more cases to verdict than any other County Criminal Court Judge. During the 2020 pandemic year, my courts docket increased less than any other of the 16 County Criminal Courts in Harris County.

I am a totally self-funded candidate. As a sitting judge I do not accept campaign contributions from lawyers or anyone else. I believe I may be the only candidate not accepting donations. I just think there is an appearance of impropriety in judges taking checks from lawyers, which is the major source of funding for most judicial campaigns. I have decided not to do it.

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7 Responses to Judicial Q&A: Judge David Singer

  1. Jason Hochman says:

    If you are a Democrat, why aren’t you pointing out the anti-semitism in the party, from pushing aside Bernie Sanders, to the comments that Whoopi Goldberg made, and going back to FDR?

  2. C.L. says:

    Dr. Hochman, what did Whoopi Goldberg say that was antisemitic ?

  3. Jonathan Freeman says:

    Whoopi Goldberg Co-Host, “The View”: The Holocaust isn’t about race.

    The question related to the above comment that I have is why should a judicial candidate for office feel the need to address anti-Semitism in the Democratic Party? Bernie wasn’t pushed aside because he was Jewish, nor was FDR for that matter, and those who place any reliance on Whoopi Goldberg for political education might find a better source. If we required similar disclaimers from Republicans for mistreatment or hatred of numerous groups by one of their ilk, wed end up with a one party system before long.

  4. Jason Hochman says:

    FDR was not Jewish. He was a known anti Semite.

    Whoopi Goldberg changed her name to Goldberg claiming to be of Jewish descent, and having Goldbergs in her family. This was fact checked FALSE.
    Then, she made these racist comments on the View and was only suspended. No outcry came from Neil Young for her to be cancelled, but she did get suspended for two weeks. Maybe she’ll take a history class over those two weeks.

  5. C.L. says:

    Dr. Hochman, what did Whoopi Goldberg say that was anti-semitic ?

  6. Jason Hochman says:

    Where have you been? The View featured Whoopi Goldberg saying that the Holcaust was not about race, it was about white people killin’ white people, y’ll go ahead and kill yer own kind.

    While this is not only wrong, white people killing white people IS about racism in any case. See: Kyle Rittenhouse.

  7. Política comparada says:


    Proposition: Holocaust was not about race.
    Negation: The Holocaust was about race.

    This is actually worth discussing a bit more seriously, including the semantics of “race” in that context.  

    As for the Jewish category, are Jews a race, and how do we determine this? Can we do so while at the same time maintaining the dichotomy between white and nonwhite or black and nonblack? Where do Jews fit in? And does it get any better if you add in Asians (or “mongoloid”) as a third purported “race”.

    As for Ashkenazis in particular, aren’t they more German than the various groups of Slavs, linguistically speaking? And the Slavs, too, were regarded as an inferior race by the self-proclaimed master race, but were linguistically more distant. So there — in the Third-Reich historical context — you have a hierarchy of racial categories, but it’s not consonant with a trichotomy of white, black, and yellow. Where does that leave the discussion of the Holocaust, and how the mass slaughter is appropriately characterized? White-on-Black violence? Not so much, except perhaps as to the Roma (gypsies) as a group included in the genocide. But then again, we face the question of whether Romanis are white, black, or what? Migratory South-Asian? Descendants of Dalits? 

    The Central/Eastern European diaspora  

    “Ashkenazi, plural Ashkenazim, from Hebrew Ashkenaz (“Germany”), member of the Jews who lived in the Rhineland valley and in neighbouring France before their migration eastward to Slavic lands (e.g., Poland, Lithuania, Russia) after the Crusades (11th–13th century) and their descendants.”https://www.britannica.com/topic/Ashkenazi

    Parlez vous Yiddish?
    And how is the erstwhile Jewish lingua franca in Eastern Europe not a variant of German or at least part of the Germanic family historically speaking? Okay, so going beyond language as a group-identity marker, does religion do any better?

    There may be a good argument in favor, but where does that leave all nonpracticing secular Jews (including people such as a certain former post WWII Chancellor of Austria, Hitler’s country of birth and original nationality) and descendants of secularized European Jews? Ditto for the conversos post-Reconquista on the Iberian peninsula. And their Hispanic-denominated post-Conquista non-pure progeny in the even more Western hemisphere.

    So where does all that leave us?

    Now we have ancestry DNA etc tracing and matching. A vast improvement over the Ahnenpass and the related paper & parchment trail littered with survival-critical forgeries.

    Is that how you now want your authentic ethno/racial class membership and eligibility for public office and jobs determined? Based on your ancestral genetic composition over which you had zero control?

    And what about the percentage breakdown in the pedigree analysis of individuals in the vast group of people of mixed ancestry? How you gonna handle that? How much of which “blood” will be enough or too much to make the cut, or lead to exclusion and rejection?

    Seriously, are we now heading for a vastly enhanced scientific Ahnenpass-plus system to ascertain lines of descent and pure-bloodedness?

    Wouldn’t it make more sense to just assume we are all mutts endowed with an equal measure of human dignity and worth as an operating assumption?  

    Lingo notes:

    Goldberg = pile or mountain of gold (German)
    Zuckerberg = pile or mountain of sugar (German)

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