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Judicial Q&A: Kay Morgan

(Note: As I have done in past elections, I am running a series of Q&As for Democratic judicial candidates on the November ballot. This is intended to help introduce the candidates and their experiences to those who plan to vote. I am running these responses in the order that I receive them from the candidates.)

Kay Morgan

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

My name is Kay Morgan and I thrilled and proud to be the Democratic candidate for judge for the 55th civil district court in Harris County.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

Civil district courts in Harris County are the primary trial courts and hear matters with a minimum amount of $200 in damages and no maximum amount limit. Civil district courts hear a variety of civil cases involving property, contracts, personal injury, wrongful death, negligence, labor disputes, and products liability to name a few. In essence, civil district courts hear everything but family, probate, and criminal matters.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

I picked this particular bench – the 55th – because it was the very first court in which I appeared as a young lawyer. The experience just stuck with me and I have ever since favored that court. Judge Reagan Cartwright was the judge at that time back in the early 1980’s and the young lawyer on the other side was Priscilla Owen who is now a Supreme Court Justice. After Judge Cartwright, Judge Kathleen Stone was elected to the 55th and I appeared in her courtroom several times. She was an excellent judge and I immediately admired her and looked up to her and liked the way she ran her court. Back in the mid-1980’s there were not that many women on the bench and she has always been an inspiration to me. The 55th civil district court needs another woman on that bench.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

I am very well qualified for this position. I have practiced law for 33 years in Harris County. Prior to law school I attended Baylor University earning a BA in history and political science and a minor in education. After Baylor, I was awarded a scholarship to SMU and earned a Masters in history with a specialty in the American Old West. My first profession was teaching. I taught 12th grade government and Texas History at a public high school in Spring Branch for 5 years. My teaching experience increased my skills in communication and listening which are important aspects of a judgeship. After law school, I was the very first St. Mary’s law student to be awarded a federal Fifth Circuit clerkship with the Honorable John R. Brown. During my legal career I have practiced in a multitude of areas including commercial business disputes, oil and gas, contracts, general negligence, consumer disputes, medical malpractice, products liability, personal injury, wrongful death, and at present, insurance law. All of these types of legal areas will be heard in a civil district court. My diverse experience will serve me well on the bench. I also have a good judicial temperament in that I am patient and slow to anger, and I am compassionate; have humility and a respect for all people regardless of their socio-economic background or ethnicity. I believe the strongest and most important judicial virtues are impartiality and fairness and with my commitment to these virtues, I will provide a level, non-bias playing field for all who enter my courtroom.

5. Why is this race important?

The position of district judge is one of the most important positions in county government but unfortunately, judicial campaigns get little attention. On my campaign journey, I have discovered two truths: first, a lot of faith, trust and confidence in our judicial system has been lost by the community. For example, when the sole person or individual is pitted against the corporate world in general, the public believes the scales of justice tip in favor of big business and that the little individual has no chance of winning. Second, the general public seems to know little about how the judicial system works or anything about the candidates that are running for this important position. Judges make some of the most important and critical everyday decisions in the lives of everyday people. The average individual is more likely to be affected on a personal level by a district court judge than they are by a state legislator in Austin. So the type of person on the bench making these personal and important decisions is critical. A judge should know the law, be patient, objective, and apply the law without prejudice or favoritism. Most important, a judge should treat everyone in the courtroom with respect, equality and dignity. A judge should also be compassionate, have humility and integrity.

6. Why should people vote for you in November?

Harris County should vote for me because I am well qualified and have the demeanor and dignity that a judge should possess. Elections of course, are about choices. I am a good choice. I have both the life and legal experiences that are needed in a judge. I will always be prepared, listen patiently and impartially, rule promptly, and provide a level playing field. I will bring to the bench compassion, knowledge of the law and respect for everyone who enters my courtroom. All bias and prejudices will be checked at the door. Most importantly, I will be fair and impartial. Impartiality is at the core of due process and is the most supreme virtue of a judge. United States Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy said it this way: “The law makes a promise-neutrality. If that promise gets broken the law as we know it will cease to exist.” The people of Harris County should vote for me because I will make sure that the promise of neutrality does not get broken in the 55th civil district court.

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