Judicial Q&A: Judge Cheryl Elliott Thornton

(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 Cheryl Elliott Thornton

1. Who are you and what are you running for?

I am JUDGE CHERYL ELLIOTT THORNTON, Judge of the 164th Civil Judicial District Court. I am a native Houstonian who has practiced primarily civil law for over 35 years. I graduated from Lamar High School in Houston, Texas and received my BA from Trinity University and my MA from St. Mary’s University both in San Antonio, Texas. I received my JD from Thurgood Marshall School of Law. I am married to Peter Thornton, my campaign manager and retired professor from Texas Southern University.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

This is a civil court which hears cases with damage claims from $200 to ad infinitum. It is the trial court of general jurisdiction for most civil cases. In Harris County this court hears such cases as personal injury, employment, election, property, contracts, debts and civil cases which are not otherwise assigned to other civil courts.

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

One of the initial accomplishments after taking the bench was to bring stability to this court as the Presiding Judge of the 164th Civil Judicial District Court. This Court faced additional hardships other than the freeze, sharing courtrooms due to the great flood and hurricane displacement. It also had a leadership void since it lacked a permanent Judge for almost two years. Together with my great team we were able to safely do trials even in the pandemic and began to tackle the backlog in the Court which was the result of all of the before mentioned hardships. We also began and still allow Zoom hearings which has proven to be invaluable in assisting with the backlog.

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

I hope to continue to move cases along as expeditiously as possible. It is my goal to have cases completed within one year. When I took the bench my oldest case was a 2009. Through hard work I have addressed the backlog and have made significant headway and will continue to do so in my second term.

5. Why is this race important?

This race is so important because, again, this community, Harris County, must decide what type of leadership it desires. It must decide does it want a Judge who has the experience which should be required for the position such as myself who has practiced in the district courts for over 30 years as a civil litigator and who has the requisite judicial experience. Or by stark contrast, is it looking for an individual who has never practiced in the civil district courts but ran for this court because it had the shortest line. I believe, again, the right choice will be made and the voters will choose a person of CHARACTER, EXCELLENT EXPERIENCE that they can TRUST. The voters will reelect JUDGE CHERYL ELLIOTT THORNTON.

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

In initially running for this seat I stated that the people should vote for me because I not only have the needed legal skills, but I also possess the social skills needed to properly service the people that come before this court. By electing me in 2020 to be Judge of the 164th Civil District Court I have shown that faith in me was justified. I am the proven commodity and have proudly and efficiently served as the Presiding Judge of the 164th Civil Judicial District Court. Further, I am the only one in this race who has had experience practicing in the district courts prior to taking office. My opponent has NEVER practiced before any civil district court and is in no way qualified to hold the position of Civil District Court Judge.

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