Judicial Q&A: Judge Kyle Carter

(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 Kyle Carter

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

My name is Kyle Carter and for the past 15 years I have served as judge of the 125th District Court.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

The 125h District Court hears civil cases. We typically hear cases involving personal injury, breach of contract, home owners association disputes, property disputes, fraud, business and property tax cases, trade secret and unfair competition matters and many others.

District courts are courts of general jurisdiction. Article V, Section 8 of the Texas Constitution extends a district court’s potential jurisdiction relative by excluding any matters in which exclusive, appellate, or original jurisdiction is conferred by law upon some other court. The district courts also have jurisdiction in civil matters with a minimum monetary limit but no maximum limit. In those counties having statutory county courts, the district courts generally have exclusion jurisdiction in civil cases where the amount in controversy is $100,000 or more, and concurrent jurisdiction with the statutory county courts in cases where the amount in controversy exceeds $500 but is less than $100,000. In addition, district courts have the power to issue writs of habeas corpus, mandamus, injunction, certiorari, sequestration, attachment, garnishment, and all writs necessary to enforce their jurisdiction. Appeals from judgements of the district courts are to the courts of appeals.

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

I have managed this court through major disasters in Hurricane Harvey and with the Covid 19 pandemic. I drafted the Harris County Covid 19 Jury Trial Protocol and worked with other judges to reinvent the jury trial process utilizing social distancing and video conferencing technology. We have had to move facilities, combine courtrooms, work remotely, adopt new procedures and keep the wheels of justice moving for the citizens of this state. We have done a great job in Harris County and have led the country in productivity during the Covid pandemic. It has been an extremely challenging time to be a judge. I am proud to say that due to the talented team in the 125th District Court we have been up to the task and have led all district courts by being among the highest courts for monthly clearance rates. Additionally, due to the management procedures pioneered in the 125th District Court we among the lowest inventory courts as well. Through hard work innovation and cooperation we have been able to achieve great things given the most challenging of circumstances.

I have also been able to directly impact our community by stopping illegal toxic dumping which occurred in a waterway adjacent to a local high school. I was able to perform the first LGBTQIA+ wedding in Harris County after the SCOTUS decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. But my greatest accomplishment has been to treat those who comes before me fairly with equality, dignity and respect, ensuring that everyone has an opportunity to be heard.

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

I would continue to improve on the quality of service that litigants receive in the 125th District Court. I will continue to advocate for additional resources from local and state government. We have an increase in new filings due to population growth and a reduction in court staff over the same period. We need to work with Harris County Commissioners Court to obtain additional funding and resources to keep up with the increase in court filings. Things like Harvey and Covid did not help but based on our hard work and procedures we are among the most efficient and lowest inventory District Courts in Harris County. Additionally, we need to work with the Texas Legislature to create additional Civil District Courts.

5. Why is this race important?

This race is extremely important. The voters have an opportunity to keep a fair, hardworking, and dedicated judge on the bench. I have over 15 years experience as judge and continue to improve on the services that we provide every day. I am also committed to serving in the community outside of the courthouse. I have been working to make sure that the public has confidence in our court system and knows that judges are there to help people and want to make a positive difference in people’s lives.

6. Why should people vote for you in March?

I have the experience and qualifications to continue serving you as judge of the 125th District Court. I am the only candidate that is Board Certified in Civil Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. I am also a member of the Texas Bar College. I have won awards for my work both on the bench and in the community. I have won the South Texas College of Law Public Service Award as well as the Outstanding Judicial Leadership Award from the Texas Association of District Judges. I have been recognized by my fellow judges from across Texas having been twice unanimously elected to serve as President of the Texas Association of District Judges. Prior to serving on the bench, I was an associate at the Carter Law Firm. Additionally, I served as general counsel to the State of Texas Legislative Committee on General Investigations and Ethics as well as the Legislative Committee on Urban Affairs.

I love my job. I get up every day excited to go to work and make a positive difference in the lives of others. My judicial philosophy is embodied in Proverbs 30:9 “Speak up and judge fairly, defend the rights of the poor and the needy.” I have a passion for the law, justice and service to my community. I humbly ask for your support and your vote to re-elect Judge Kyle Carter to the 125th District Court on 2024.

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