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Criminal District Court 292

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    Brandon Birmingham (D) Chief Felony Prosecutor

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    Janet Cook (R) attorney

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Highlights of current civic involvement/accomplishment:

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Previous public offices sought or held:

How much funding have you raised for your campaign?

Who are your top three contributors?

Have you ever been arrested or involved in any criminal proceedings or civil suits? If so, please explain:

What is an example of how you led a team or group toward achieving an important goal?

Which current or former judge do you most admire and why?

Why are you running for this office?

Why should voters choose you over your opponent?

Define and describe your view of a judge’s appropriate temperament.

As a lawyer or judge, what types of cases have you typically handled?

As a judge (if applicable), have any complaints been filed against you to with the State Commission on Judicial Conduct? If so, please explain the disposition of those complaints.

As an attorney, have you had any grievances filed against you with the State Bar of Texas? If so, what was the disposition (unfounded, private reprimand, public reprimand, suspension, disbarment)?

Because Texas selects its judges and justices through partisan elections, you chose to run as a Republican, Democrat or member of another political party. What philosophies of that party led you to choose it for this race?

Do you support our system of electing judges in partisan contests? Or would you favor moving to a different system, such as one where judges are appointed and then run later in non-partisan retention elections?

The Supreme Court oath that lawyers take requires them to say they “will avoid the appearance of impropriety.” In light of that, should judges accept campaign contributions from lawyers who have appeared, or may appear, before them in court?

What is your personal view of the death penalty and, if applicable, how will that view affect the way you handle cases in your court?

What specific innovations would you implement in your court to improve its efficiency?

The district attorney’s office has sought to bring defendants to trial more quickly, especially for repeat offenders on lower-level charges, to clear them from the system and reduce stress on the county jail. What is your view of speeding the pace in this way?

Address PO Box 110472
City/Town Carrollton, TX 75011-0472
Age 40
Campaign Phone Number (214) 390-4553
Youtube Channel
35 Years. My family moved here when I was 2 1/2 years old from Columbus, Ohio, and with the exception of College and Law School, I have always lived and practiced in Dallas County. It is, has been, and will be my home - the place I raise my children, and the place I'll retire. It is because of these things that I have spent my entire career at the Frank Crowley Criminal Courthouse making sure that Dallas County is a safe place to live. That is what drives me, and what I seek to accomplish once elected.
I am a Felony Chief with the Dallas County District Attorney's Office, and have worked exclusively in Dallas County for my entire career. As a Felony Chief, I have specialized in trial work involving violent crimes. The Court I am running for is a felony trial court, and the expertise I have gained over the last 12 years in Dallas County uniquely qualifies me to preside over these cases. Additionally, throughout my career, I have been asked to teach other lawyers, judges, and law enforcement officers various aspects of criminal law and procedure, including Ethics.
Doctorate of Jurisprudence, South Texas College of Law, Houston, Texas I am a former member of the College of the State Bar of Texas I have been a member in good standing with the State Bar of Texas since 2002.
I am a member of the Genesis Women's Shelter HeROs. I have recently participated in Bowl for Kid's Sake, a fundraiser for Big Brothers and Big Sisters, and in the Big Russian Shootout, a charity basketball tournament that raises money for local charities in honor of Norm Smith, a Dallas Police Department Gang Unit Officer killed in the line of duty in 2009.
I have participated in Habitat for Humanity and in the Gustavo Ipina Memorial Scholarship fund.
This is the first and only elected public office I have sought. I began my career in public service in 2002 when I was hired by former District Attorney Bill Hill. I was promoted through the ranks by him, and became a Felony Chief four years later in 2006. I have held that rank under the current District Attorney Craig Watkins.
I have raised $22,460.00, including both monetary and in-kind donations. My financial statement is available for public review on the State of Texas Ethics Commission website under the Campaign Finance Report tab.
Jason McNeil, the LoneStar Project PAC, Yuri Custer
I have never been arrested. I received a ticket in 1995 for being a Minor in Possession of Alcohol. I have been sued two times; both cases were dismissed.
In 2011, a 16-year-old named Shania Gray child made an outcry of sexual abuse against a man named Franklin Davis. In order to prevent her from testifying against him in court, he planned and carried out her vicious murder. I believe his crime of killing a witness shook the criminal justice system to the core because our society cannot allow victims to be harmed, intimidated or prevented from having their day in court. I was given the opportunity to work with, and responsibility to lead, a number of extraordinary people on this case - to include not only the prosecutors who assisted me, but also the investigators, police officers and detectives from the Carrollton Police Department, and forensic examiners in the private sector and with the United States Secret Service – all of whom helped to uncover Davis’s murderous plot. I am very proud to say that we brought a certain measure of closure to Shania’s family, and the techniques used to solve the case have been used to teach other members of law enforcement. Shania’s case leaves a lasting legacy, and the jury sent a very strong message to anyone thinking of harming a potential witness: you will be dealt with swiftly and justly.
I most admire Judge Gracie Lewis (Criminal District Court Number 3, Dallas County). I believe that she is tough but fair, knowledgeable, and hard-working. Having practiced in her court for a number of years, I know that she gives both sides a meaningful opportunity to be heard, and is willing to consider well thought out and well researched legal arguments. I pledge to be the same way once elected. I also have a great deal of respect for Judge Mike Snipes (Criminal District Court Number 7, Dallas County). His grasp and knowledge of the rules of evidence and criminal procedure is unparalleled, a trait that I have sought as a practitioner and will continue to seek once elected.
I am running for Judge because I want to make Dallas County a better place to live. At this point in my career, I could have gone out into private practice and made more money. But that's not what I'm about. I have been a civil servant my entire career intent on bringing a fair measure of closure and justice to those victims of violent crime that can't stand up for themselves. Sometimes they've been too young, as in child abuse cases; sometimes they're in an abusive relationship and can't see the truth for themselves; sometimes they fall prey to the dangers of drug abuse, and the inevitable violence stemming therefrom; sometimes they are at the wrong place at the wrong time, the faultless victim to stranger on stranger crimes. I have always objectively gone where the law and the evidence took me, especially cautious of the power and responsibility that comes with being a felony prosecutor. Being a Judge, however, carries the added responsibility of ensuring that the rules are followed so that false convictions do not occur, that each citizen accused of a crime gets a fair trial, and that victims of crimes are made whole again. Also, a Judge must handle non-violent defendants with a view towards acclimating them to reenter society as productive law-abiding citizens - addressing root causes, not short-sighted quick fixes. Given the type of cases that will come through my court, these decisions are literally life and death decisions, and making them so that Dallas County is safer IS what I am all about – it’s my passion, it’s what drives me. That’s the reason I am running for this office.
Experience, Efficiency and Expertise. Experience Dallas County is the County I know best - it is where I have lived and practiced my entire career. I could have practiced in a different County, but Dallas County is my home, and keeping it safe is my driving force. I have proudly handled some of the biggest criminal cases here, and done so fairly, ethically, and transparently. I have been in the trenches, having been lead counsel in every type of felony that may be heard in that court - from a simple possession of narcotics case to a death penalty case - on several occasions. I take personal ownership in these cases and the people involved in them because, for all of our differences, we have this one thing in common: we all call Dallas County home. It is the allegiance to protecting our home front that uniquely qualifies me for the job.

Efficiency The Dallas County Tax Payer deserves to have a Judge who will work hard and move the docket efficiently for 3 reasons: the financial burden on taxpayers is lessened by efficient resolution to cases, defendants and their families deserve to have their cases heard without unnecessary delays, and victims of crimes deserve to quickly begin the process of healing. By simply working hard and being punctual, as a felony chief, I have already run some of the most efficient Felony Courts here in Dallas County: my courts have consistently been in the top 5 in terms of dispositions and costs. I pledge to run the 292nd in the same cost efficient manner.

Expertise A Judge must constantly study and learn the law in order to apply it fairly. Because of my performance in court, different groups have asked me to teach legal concepts to other prosecutors, defense attorneys, Judges, and law enforcement officers all over Texas and on a National Level. I am a former member of the College of the State Bar of Texas, and will qualify again this year. I have taught over 50 hours of State Accredited Continuing Legal Education on topics ranging from Ethics to Constitutional Law to the Rules of Evidence. Teaching has been a great passion and a great education. I have been honored to have been asked by both sides of the bar to share what I've been able to learn. I pledge to remain vigilant in studying my craft so that the rule of law prevails, and applies equally to everyone.

For your reference, here is a list of some of the most recent teaching opportunities I have been involved with: August 2014: I presented a Case Study at the National Crimes Against Children Conference in Dallas, Texas: “The Murder of a Child Sexual Abuse Witness – The Capital Murder Prosecution of Franklin Davis.” I also presented 2 courses for the Center for American and International Law in Plano, Texas: "4th Amendment Search and Seizure Law" and "Ethics." April 2013: I presented two Case Studies at the National Conference on Crimes Against Women in Dallas, Texas: “Kill The Silence: The Abduction and Rape of a Student Athlete”, and “Conviction Integrity Unit Investigation – Exoneration to Conviction.” November 2012: I taught “Crawford and Social Media – Collecting and Introducing” at the Legal Aid of Northwest Texas Facing Family Violence Conference, McKinney, Texas. September 2012: I taught three courses: “Kill the Silence: the Monika Korra Story” at the Tarrant County Sexual Abuse Advisory Council Conference, Fort Worth, Texas; “Online Goldmine” at the TDCAA Annual Civil and Criminal Law Update, South Padre Island, Texas; “Preparing for Evidentiary Hearings – Daubert and Speedy Trial” at the National District Attorney’s Association Trial Advocacy for the Prosecution Team Conference, Houston, Texas. August 2012: I taught an office-wide CLE entitled “Confession 360.” The course was unique in that post-conviction interviews were conducted of the police officers, defendants, and prosecutors on certain cases. These interviews enabled us to present the suspect’s insight into the interviews, not just the detectives. April 2012: I taught “Crawford and the Confrontation Clause” at the TDCAA Family Violence Conference, San Antonio, Texas. January 2012: I taught “Ethics” at the Innovative Approaches to Family Violence Cases Seminar, Dallas, Texas. August 2011: I presented a case study on the “Capital Murder of Alma Arenas” in two places: The National Crimes Against Children Conference in Dallas, Texas and Michigan Prosecutor’s Association Annual Conference: Navigating the Road to Child Safety in Manistee, Michigan. January 2011: I spoke for the first time at the Cutting Edge Conference on Family Violence, teaching “Ethics.” The audience consisted of police officers, prosecutors, social workers, victim advocates, and criminal defense attorneys. January of 2009: I was chosen for the first time to be a speaker at TDCAA’s Annual Civil and Criminal Law Update. My topic was “Trial Evidence and Preserving the Record.” December of 2008: I was selected to be on the faculty of the Prosecutor Trial Skills Course in Harris County, Texas. In addition to being a Faculty Advisor, I presented two lectures: “Cross Examination and Impeachment”, and “Ethical Considerations for Prosecutors.” Summer 2008: I was chosen to be a Teacher at the Regional Training Seminar for Judges, Police Officers, Criminal Defense Attorneys and Prosecutors. A group of us traveled to 5 different cities across the State teaching different areas of the law. I handled all of the evidentiary issues – from constitutionality to authenticity.
A Judge must be respectful, even-tempered and patient. Decisions in these cases should not be made in haste, and a Judge must give each side a fair chance to be heard. It is this type of atmosphere that will yield the fairest and most informed decisions. These types of cases are far too important for anything less.
I am a Chief Felony Prosecutor, supervising almost each felony case assigned to my court. These cases range from simple possession of narcotics to capital murder. I also supervise probation hearings, pre-trial matters, and plea bargains on a daily basis. I am ultimately responsible for making sure these cases are ready for disposition or trial, and are handled fairly. This experience has taught me how to implement and run a very efficient docket. I spend the bulk of my time and efforts handling homicide cases, from intoxication manslaughter to capital murder. I am also the Chief of the Cold Case Unit. It is strictly voluntary, and I receive no extra compensation for doing the extra work. The reward comes from prosecuting cases that have gone unsolved, sometimes for decades, and bringing closure to victim's families after all those years. The oldest one I have handled happened in December, 1981 (State v. George Washington Hicks), and will be featured on Investigation Discovery's "On The Case With Paula Zahn" in the fall of 2014. Before becoming a felony chief, I was assigned to the Child Abuse Division where I handled the prosecution of defendants charged with physical or sexual abuse of children.

Regarding my trial experience, here is a summary of some of the cases I have handled: State v. Kenneth Wayne Thomas. Fred Finch was a Harvard Law School Graduate, a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, and founder of the Dallas Examiner Newspaper. Mildred Finch was a Mathematics Professor at El Centro beginning in 1966, later serving as chair of the Mathematics Department. During the course of committing burglary in the middle of the night on March 16, 1986, Kenneth Thomas stabbed Fred and Mildred Finch to death in their own home - a home the married couple lived in for 30 years. The investigation revealed that Thomas stole numerous items from the Finch home, including Mr. Finch's Rolex, and that Thomas was on parole for Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon at the time of the murders. A jury sentenced Mr. Thomas to death. State v. George Washington Hicks. On December 23, 1981, Roxanne Jeeves and her 5 year old son Kristopher Korper were abducted and taken to a field in far eastern Dallas County where they were murdered by George Hicks. It was Kristopher's 5th birthday. DNA evidence from Mrs. Jeeves's sexual assault kit linked Hicks to the murders. A jury sentenced Hicks to life in prison. State v. Franklin Davis: Franklin Davis was indicted on 4 counts of sexual assault against a minor, and was set for a jury trial in October, 2012. About 6 weeks before the trial, Mr. Davis picked up the minor from Hebron High School, took her to the Elm Fork of the Trinity River in Irving, and killed her to prevent her from testifying at the upcoming trial. The investigation revealed that Mr. Davis used an alias on Facebook in order to gain the victim’s confidence and was going to use other evidence from his cell phone that he fabricated in an attempt to prove that the complaining witness was recanting her allegations. A jury sentenced Mr. Davis to death. The Case of "Mary Smith" (pseudonym): Defendants Marion Sayles and Frederick Anderson. In 1983, Mary Smith was abducted, raped, shot and left for dead in a field off of old I-45. 2 men were caught and convicted of these crimes. In 2010, the Conviction Integrity Unit did DNA testing that exonerated these two men. That same DNA evidence was uploaded into the CODIS database, and the results implicated Marion Sayles and Frederick Anderson. Due to the statute of limitations, we charged and convicted each of Attempted Capital Murder. Juries sentenced both Sayles and Anderson to life in prison. The Case of Monika Korra: Defendants Alfonso Zuniga, Arturo Arevalo, and Luis Zuniga. Ms. Korra was a student athlete from Norway who ran cross country on scholarship for SMU. In December, 2009, she was walking arm in arm with her best friend when a dark colored SUV pulled up beside her. Two of the occupants got out of the vehicle, abducted her, and drove off. Over the course of the next hour, they took turns raping and robbing her at knifepoint. When they were finished, they dumped her out of the car. Her assailants were eventually captured using cell phone tower locations and some ingenious police work. 2 different juries sentenced Alfonso Zuniga and Arturo Arevalo to life in prison. Luis Zuniga pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Monika Korra created the Monika Korra Foundation, making it her life's work to empower other victims of sexual crimes to come forward and be heard.
Not Applicable -
I have never had a grievance filed against me. I am a member in good standing with the State Bar of Texas, and have been since licensed.
Political affiliations or political ideals will never dictate the outcome of a case, and I promise that decisions in my court will be made solely on the law applicable to the case and the evidence presented in court. I firmly believe that the rule of law should apply equally to every person, regardless of race, gender, age, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status.
I support the current system of electing judges in partisan contests. As for an appointment system, I am very skeptical of any system that takes power away from the hands of the many and puts it into the hands of one. I believe this is especially important in judicial races because the decisions made in court should reflect community values. The best way to achieve this is by the popular election of candidates who live in and are a part of the community.
I believe that transparency in campaign finance is essential to maintaining the integrity of the system. All of my financial statements are available for viewing on the Texas Ethics commission website, and everybody is free to take a look. I am proud to say that I have received contributions from lawyers on both sides of the bar - prosecution and defense - by those who have worked with me in the trenches, and know my professional reputation.
Death penalty cases are the most important types of cases tried in any courtroom, and given what is at stake, it is imperative that a Judge have vast experience in this area. As for my experience, I have studied, practiced and taught death penalty jurisprudence. I have personally handled four death penalty cases, three as the lead counsel. Besides my experience in this particular area, however, I believe that a trial judge is not to allow their personal views of ANY law affect how they will rule on particular cases. It is up to the Texas Legislature to write the laws; it will be up to me as the trial court judge to rule on the laws they pass.
Very simple: I will work hard and follow the law. I'll be on the bench on time, accessible, and will stay until the work is finished. I will personally monitor the jury trial docket and the daily docket to ensure that cases do not get needlessly reset. That's how I've been able to maintain some of the most efficient courts in the courthouse as a chief prosecutor. I will bring this experience and know-how with me to the bench once elected.
Of paramount concern is that the accused citizen has a fair trial, and a fair opportunity to prepare a defense. So long as these foundational constitutional precepts are intact, I fully support the expedient and fair resolution to all cases.
City/Town Farmers Branch
Age 63
Campaign Phone Number (214) 529-8169
Email Address jscook54@gmail.com
Youtube Channel
33 years
attorney-retired
Bachelors Degree from Angelo State University in 1977 Law Degree (JD) from Texas Tech School of Law in 1981
I have contributed money and items to the Collin County Children's Advocacy Center and specifically this year I was a Bronze Sponsor of their annual Gala. I have donated special stuffed toys for the children who have cases being prosecuted in Collin County by the Crimes against Children Division of the Collin County District Attorney's office. I also have an automatic monthly withdrawal from my bank account for the Wounded Warriors Project.
My entire career at the Public Defender's office served the poor and the disadvantaged. There were numerous instances where I assisted clients on matters outside my duty as their criminal defense lawyer such as buying meals, bus fare, or getting documents to aid them in getting an ID or a job. I presented legal seminars on new laws passed by the Texas Legislature and case updates of U.S. Supreme Court and Texas Court of Criminal Appeal’s decisions. As a prosecutor assigned to the Crimes Against Children Division, I met many children who were not only disadvantaged due to monetary situations, but from surviving abuse at the hands of their parent or other relative. I have spent time counseling them and simply listening to their ups and downs as they try to heal from their ordeal. In the past, in conjunction with my children's activities, I have been a PTA member and specifically held various posts such as PTA Board Member, Fundraiser Chair and Newsletter Editor. I also have been a member of their high school's various Booster Clubs when they were in those activities. In addition, I volunteered as a math and reading tutor at an elementary school.
In 2010 I was a candidate for Judge, County Criminal Court #3.
$1325 from sources outside of my husband and me. My husband and I contributed/loaned close to $3400 to my campaign.
Sister-in-law Conni Fulk-$500 Friend Bridget Barnhill-$500 then 3 people donated $100 each before June 30-Kenneth Moore, retired Sheriff of Fannin County and retired investigator with the Collin County DA's office; brother in law Gordon Cook; and Crystal Levonius, prosecutor and chief of Crimes against Children in Collin County. After the June 30 filing deadline for my most recent financial report, Charles Girand, a law partner of my husband, donated $100.
I have never been arrested or charged with a criminal case. I was in a minor car accident in October 2010 and a few months later in 2011 I was sued. My insurance company settled the matter and it is no longer pending.
Many years ago I was a court chief in the Dallas County District Attorney’s office. More recently I was a supervisor in the Dallas County Public Defender’s office, where I supervised and advised other felony public defenders. In Collin County I was interim chief of Crimes against Children supervising a section with 4 attorneys, 2 investigators and 2 secretaries as well as working closely with detectives and experts at the Children’s Advocacy Center in Collin County. I later was assigned to a felony court and supervised a less experienced attorney in an unofficial capacity. Citing one example over my career would be difficult, but one of the more serious and difficult cases I worked on was a sexual assault of a child in Collin County. The difficulty with this case was partly logistics. It involved two out of state law enforcement agencies, the Plano Police Department, several out of town witnesses, several out of state witnesses, a difficult and sometimes uncooperative mom of the victim, and a recent prisoner of the Texas Department of Corrections. With the help of my Collin County DA Investigator and the Plano Detective who filed the case, I was able to organize and collect everyone needed for the trial. It required many hours of phone work and out of town travel to get the whole truth about an offense that took place in different jurisdictions and over a period of up to 8 years. The result was that a child abuser was convicted by a jury and sentenced to a maximum term of prison.
Lana Myers. There are three (3) primary reasons that I believe make her an outstanding judge and one I would strive to emulate: her judicial temperament, her superb knowledge of the law, and her unquestionable integrity and ethics.
I think it is critical for judges to be experienced and impartial. I entered this race for this court for those reasons. The judge must evaluate evidence that comes before them and apply that to the law. A judge is not an advocate for one side or the other, but an advocate for justice and fairness. Having practiced law on both sides gives me the proper perspective on cases that a judge must have. That experience is real life experience that is earned by actually doing both sides. A person’s experience shapes how they will do a job and my experience as both a prosecutor and defense attorney is ideal for taking the bench as a judge. Independence of the judiciary is also critical. Thomas Jefferson said “the judiciary is a body which, if rendered independent and kept strictly to their own department, merits great confidence for their learning and integrity.” I became concerned that the District Attorney wants to tip that independence toward his office and his desires. Nothing could be more unfair than for the Judge to feel that real pressure to favor the District Attorney or else become the new target in the next election. Judges must rule according to the law and the evidence and no other way.

Experience and Independence: First, experience: I have experience as both a prosecutor and a criminal defense attorney. I also worked as the Criminal District Judge’s lawyer for three (3) years, advising them on the law. My opponent does not have the breadth of experience that I have. I have participated in hundreds of jury trials and at least three (3) times that amount of hearings before the court. I have represented the State on behalf of victims as a prosecutor in Dallas County and Collin County. I also have represented clients accused of felonies when I was in the Dallas County Public Defender’s office. When you are the judge you must be able to fairly and evenly evaluate the evidence from both sides. When you have experience representing both sides it comes naturally to do that. Seeing the criminal justice system from all sides has given me a certain perspective that is well rounded. Families of the victims and of the defendant may come to court wishing for different outcomes. But the one thing they have in common is a loved one who is going through something very difficult and emotional. I understand what both of those groups are going through. As a prosecutor I have held the hand of a weeping mother whose child was sexually assaulted or killed. As a defense lawyer I have also tried to comfort the distraught mom or grandma whose loved one committed a terrible crime and has been convicted. It is a very emotional time for all. I understand that because I have been there for many years on both sides of the courtroom. Second, impartiality and independence: If the courts are not perceived as fair or impartial, then people will not feel confident that the court system is just. I am not currently employed by or beholden to any elected official. I did not work for the current Dallas County District Attorney, and owe him no favors. An independent judiciary is the only way to not only have the perception of fairness, but the only way to truly have fairness. I cannot imagine a more important job than giving all a fair trial. As a Judge I would work everyday to make sure that was done. The criminal justice system must be that way to ensure the guilty are held accountable and the wrongly accused are set free. Our way of life depends on that.
Calm, fair, and respectful to all who come before them. A judge who, whether she ruled for you or against you, you will say was fair, polite, professional, and followed the law.
Criminal cases only, from misdemeanor charges when I first began practicing law in the 1980's, to exclusively felonies from 1999 to this year. I was appointed to represent capital murder defendants, including one on which the District Attorney sought the death penalty, and I have handled from the prosecution side murders of children in Dallas County and Collin County. I have tried intoxication manslaughter, aggravated robbery, aggravated assault, and aggravated sexual assault of children. I have been both a prosecutor on these types of cases and a defense attorney.
Not applicable
When I practiced criminal defense with the Public Defender's Office, particularly as one who was always court appointed and had little choice regarding taking a client or a case, I had a few grievances filed, but ALL were dismissed or found to be unfounded.
I believe the Republican Party represents my views of government more closely. A government that is smaller and less intrusive in our personal lives is a premise of the Republican Party.
I definitely support electing judges. If there could be non-partisan elections I would prefer that. I do not support appointing judges, except to fill a vacancy.
No I don't think they should, but that is how most do it. Four years ago when I ran I said I would not accept campaign contributions from lawyers who might appear in front of me. I came fairly close last time in the election and when I decided to run again this year I thought I would need more money to get my name and message to the public. I did not initially take the same pledge, however it is something that I feel strongly about and so decided this summer to take that pledge again. I will not accept or solicit donations from attorneys that may appear in front of me. The thing that will most likely happen is that whoever wins the election will have attorneys come to them to donate after the election. I believe this practice is even worse, but that is how it has worked in the past. I will not accept those contributions either. It would be nice to have more money to send letters or cards to voters to tell them about myself, but if I don't have the money then I will not be able to do that as much as I would like. Hopefully voters will educate themselves by looking at my website, reading these answers to your questions, and then deciding on the best candidate for the job of District Judge.
My personal view on any law will not affect the way I handle cases in my court. My personal choice regarding the death penalty is to not have it. However, because I also think the citizens of the State should decide those matters and the majority of Texans support the death penalty, then I will follow the laws of our citizens. The death penalty should be reserved for the very worst cases and the very worst defendants. The guilt of the person charged should be so clear as to have NO doubt and the crime so horrible that the ultimate penalty is the appropriate sentence. I know this from my legal experience. I was appointed to represent an individual charged with capital murder on a case where the facts were questionable regarding whether it was a capital case and yet the current Dallas County District Attorney still sought death. The case was tried after I had gone to Collin County, but the defendant was not found guilty of capital murder. That was a case that I believe the District Attorney's office knew going in that it was not a capital case, but for political reasons they still sought death.
First, show up for work everyday ready to work. It may not sound like an innovation, but it is of great importance for the court to work efficiently. If the judge is not there, a large amount of work gets put off. Just as I have always done in my career, I go to work everyday to do the right thing, day in and day out. Second, I would start at least one jury trial each week on a Monday and set bench trials and motion hearings on Thursday and Friday. Third, take more control of probationers in my court. I have been concerned that violations are not being reported to the judges. If I am sentencing someone to probation for a case in my court, I am placing conditions on those individuals and I expect them to be followed. If they are not, I need to know about it. The conditions of probation are the Court's Orders, not the probation department’s. Even though certain violations are called "technical" violations, they are violations of court orders and should be dealt with by the court, either with a formal motion filed and subsequent hearing or more informally with the probationer coming to court to see me. Fourth, I would evaluate the various programs the County currently has to decide which ones are both effective in helping the defendant and are cost effective. Throwing money into something that is not working just to say we are doing something is nonsense. There are non-profits that do not use taxpayer/county funds that might be beneficial and there will be county paid programs that are extremely helpful. As with all big operations though there are programs that are so entrenched that they are used over and over without really determining the effectiveness.
Fast does not always equal just. "Clearing them from the system" sounds like you are not recognizing that these offenders are facing life altering changes and consequences. I am more concerned with doing it right the first time, and not necessarily with the quickest or most convenient result. Both sides must have time to evaluate the evidence and make informed choices about how to proceed. Sometimes that will be a very short time, and other times it may take longer. I will work hard to move the cases along, but without denying the State and the defense the opportunity to be adequately prepared. Victims want justice and waiting for it can be hard, but I know they also want the right person convicted. The right result sometimes might take a little longer, but is worth it in the end. Moving cases quickly without lab results in drug cases a few years back helped facilitate, although it was not the cause of, the fake drug scandal.