(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.
1. Who are you and what are you running for?
My name is Manpreet Monica Singh and I am a native Houstonian. I am a 20+ year attorney with over 100 trials and love the courtroom. I am running for Harris County Civil Court at Law #4.
2. What kind of cases does this court hear?
This Court’s jurisdiction has recently been raised to $250,000 for the amount in controversy. This encompasses cases regarding contract disputes, car accidents, evictions, condemnation cases and many other cases. And what I’m most excited about is conducting marriages.
3. Why are you running for this particular bench?
I was driven to run for this newly vacated seat after many years of appearing before Judges in County Court that did not reflect our Democratic values and the rule of law. Being elected to this seat would also round out the four County Courts with experienced and bright judges who champion inclusion and diversity. Over the years attorneys stopped filing cases in the County Courts to avoid the unpredictability of the entrenched Judges there were before. Now with an increasing number of competent Judges who are fair and principled, I believe cases will be filed in County Court again, expediting the process of a case from start to finish. I want to be part of the solution and serving in this capacity is an important way I can improve the court system. Finally, my election to this bench would afford Harris County the historic opportunity to elect the first Sikh female Judge in the United States.
4. What are your qualifications for this job?
From the first week of being sworn in as an attorney, I have routinely practiced in the courtroom, having tried over 100 cases in the last 20 years. My experience helps me understand the frustrations of clients and attorneys as they move through the Court system. As a result of the past stalling of cases in the County Courts, I became more innovative in ways to resolve my cases. I have brought the most difficult attorneys to the table to help find a middle ground. In fact, over the past 10 years at my current firm, I have settled over 700 cases in litigation. I have always been a leader in the number of settlements finalized, while simultaneously going to Court for trials that lasted sometimes for weeks. Amicable settlement of cases and trial are both essential parts of the efficient resolution of disputes in the court system. Judges must ensure their courts are administered in a way that allows for both processes to occur in a timely manner.
Over the years I have also attended and completed many leadership academies. I completed Leadership Houston’s Signature Program (Class XXXVIII), ABA Leadership Academy, 2016-2017, Harvard Leadership Program, 2014, FBI Citizens Academy Graduate, 2013, and Certified Sikh Coalition Advocate, 2011. Professionally, I was certified in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas in 2002, Certified Court Ad Litem in 2002, and Certified in Mediation in 2001.
The most flattering ask in our profession is to teach Continuing Legal Education classes. I have taught on numerous occasions for the American Board of Trial Advocates, University of Texas Law School, State of Bar of Texas, and before the Harris County Judiciary. I have coordinated many CLE classes, finding speakers and arranging logistics. Notably, in February 2020 with a co-chair, I arranged a highly successful full day CLE for the Houston Lawyer Association and various other diversity bars.
5. Why is this race important?
Too many judges have become career judges. Year after year, entrenched in how things have been done in the past. Much as the city has grown more diverse and inclusive, so should our judicial system, while embracing new ideas and views. This race is important because it is time to have our great courts reflect our great city.
6. Why should people vote for you in March?
Of my opponents, I’m the most qualified and have been “boots on the ground” to have the most in-depth understanding of the inner workings of what is needed and how to manage this job. I have always lead my life with sweat equity and I will serve the citizens. My experience being on the other side of the bench all these years will be an invaluable and unique perspective which allows me to see the pain points from both the client and attorney, and for both plaintiffs and defendants. The mere number of cases that I have both tried as well as settled means that I, uniquely, have the best grasp on how the law is currently practiced and what litigants are asking for when they entrust the court system to resolve their disputes. I intend to bring my experiences to the bench to help attorneys and clients find efficient and effective resolutions and access to justice that has been missing for so long. That is why I have been endorsed by the Houston Black American Democrats, the Mexican American Bar Association, Greater Heights Democratic Club, Bay Area Democratic Movement, and Fired Up in the 559 thus far.
Equally important, I have been a community activist and organizer. My support and commitment to the community is a part of my fiber as an individual, not a political posture or position formulated in my run for office. The commitment was instilled in me by my immigrant parents and my faith. I have worked closely with various organizations and offices and been an active participant championing the fight for racial and economic equity. I have testified for the HERO campaign, testified before the State Board of Education in regards to their textbooks, written numerous articles, and appeared on many TV programs to further our platform for these issues. Alongside the endorsement of organizations I have endorsements from community members and politicians that champion change. I am proud to be endorsed by Lizzie Fletcher, Ann Johnson, Ellen Cohen, Gordon Quan, Ron Reynolds, Roy Malonson, and many others in our community.
Now I ask for your endorsement. The endorsement of the people to vote for me!