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Person Not Party – Voting for Judges

Person Not Party – Voting for Judges

Every few years we have the opportunity to elect the person who may at some point decide our future either due to a civil dispute or a criminal matter.   I believe in our judicial system and know that there is not a better way in existence to resolve disputes than through a jury trial presided over by a fair and impartial judge.

We as Texans have the right and responsibility to elect our judges.  So how are you supposed to know which judge should get your vote?  Maybe you should just vote straight ticket if you don’t know because that person “must think like me if they are in my same political party”?  Maybe by who has the name that sounds familiar?  Maybe by the time you get to the judicial elections you are so tired of trying to figure it out that you just quit there?   All of these “ways” of deciding who is the person who may be the judge deciding your case happen.  They are all not only wrong but dangerous.  There have been elections in the past few years in the counties around us in which the least qualified of all the candidates was elected because of one of these reasons.  We have lost great judges from both parties due to a straight ticket vote swing one way or the other.

It is hard for me to make a determination on which judges I would vote for who hear strictly criminal or family cases as I only handle civil cases.  Before I vote on those positions, I ask friends of mine who practice before those courts as well as do my own research to decide who I should vote for.  In this election, as in elections past, I have created a list of the various courts along with who I recommend for the position.  I have also listed with which party they are affiliated.  As an aside I understand why the people running for judge need the backing of a political party as it is expensive and time consuming to run a campaign, but once the general election comes I believe the judicial elections should just list the candidate without party affiliation and making it where any straight ticket vote would not register for either candidate.

When I hear judicial candidates proudly state that they are against lawsuits or for any particular organization for group (whether it be to limit recoveries, for locking people up, etc.), I have to wonder if they are planning on following the law or trying to make it from the bench.

I know what some of you are thinking:  You are supporting particular judges and want us to vote for them because they rule for you?  While that would be great, it is not the case. In fact almost every one of the sitting judges, despite my brilliant arguments, has ruled against me or made a ruling which negatively impacted a position I held at least once.   So why would I support them?  Why not just vote for a particular party?  I support these individuals because I have practiced before them, seen their work, read their opinions (or the candiates they are running against) and want the best judicial branch of the government we can get.  I want a judiciary which treats everyone as equal and not as a statistic to appease their supporters and donors.

So how do you determine who you should vote for in the judicial elections?  Glad you asked, here are my 5 Rules for Selecting Judges:

Five Rules for Selecting Judges

One:                     VOTE.  If you don’t vote, don’t complain.

Two:                    Ask attorneys who practice before the Judges and Justices who they would support and why.

Three:                   Read their propaganda (I mean mailers).  Any decent ones are going to list the candidates’ accomplishments and biography.  Here is what sends up red flags for me.  Any candidate who touts that they are going to be tough on criminals, get rid of frivolous lawsuits, be more republican or democratic than their opponent, etc., etc.  I know that political parties are a necessity for the backing and support of candidates (including judges) but I want an elected official who is fair to all.  I want a judge who is going to have one job and that is to enforce the laws as they exist and treat everyone equally.  I want a judge who believes in the innocent until proven guilty and not one who brags about putting people in jail or being tough on crime.  If you enforce the law then usually the right thing happens. If you have an agenda – run for congress and not the bench.  Do some investigation on the candidates before you vote on someone who may impact your life greatly in the future.

Four:                     Select who you would want to decide your case if everything went wrong, if you had to sue someone or were sued or if you were charged with a crime.  Is that judge you are voting for someone you would want sitting up on the bench?

Five:                      You are allowed to take written notes or information into the voting booth. (You cannot use a phone, etc.)  After you have done your research and made your decisions, make a list and take it with you when you vote so you don’t get forget who it was you decided on for the position of the ballot and make sure you finish the entire ballot.

3 Things that Define March in Texas

Our blog generally focuses on legal issues which impact our clients, but sometimes it is good to take a break and step back and reflect on other topics, like why we love living in Texas. It is March in Texas which, for me, means:

  1. Bluebonnets – “Bluebonnets of Texas they bloom in the spring…” do you know the rest of the poem? If you are from Texas, you probably do. And you probably have at least one photo of you, your significant other and kids in the Bluebonnets. Go ahead and find the picture now, it’s probably one of your favorites. That is, until you take a new one this year. One of our favorite fields is on HWY 71 between Houston and Austin. When you find a great field, let us know.
  2. Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo – It’s time to break out the boots and hat and head to Rodeo, where everyone gets to be a cowboy for a day. I’m a huge Rodeo fan and I hear they even have some fairly decent singers show up. If you really want to take it up a notch, get a duster to go with your hat and boots. If you don’t know what a duster is – well maybe you’re just visiting.
  3. Houston Dynamo – It may not be on your list, but as a family that has been playing, coaching and refereeing soccer for several decades, it is definitely on ours. If you haven’t been, you really owe it to yourself to make it to at least one game to see our local pro soccer team. If you don’t understand the game, no problem. The fans are great about explaining what is going on without attitude. 3 quick notes: The field is called a pitch, the game is called a match and anytime your player goes down just yell “are you kidding me – how is that not a foul.” You will be high-fiving new friends in no time.

It wouldn’t be March in Texas for me without these three things, and we wouldn’t be successful without our Texan (it is a state of mind) friends and clients.

This month we will be celebrating by giving away Rodeo and Dynamo tickets (you are on your own with the Bluebonnets). To enter the giveaway, share favorite things that define Texas in March in the comments below. We love hearing what others enjoy about Texas, and are excited to share some of our favorite activities with y’all.  We would also love to see your best pictures of Bluebonnets, the Rodeo and Dynamo so post them here under comments or on our Facebook page.

Who are you voting for?  Part 2

Who are you voting for? Part 2

 R or D – Why you shouldn’t pull the straight ticket for Judicial Races.

We as Texans have the right and responsibility to elect our judges. So how are you supposed to know which judge should get your vote? Maybe you should just vote straight ticket if you don’t know because that person “must think like me if they are in my same political party”? What do you do if more than one person is running for the same judicial position in the same party? Maybe by who has the name that sounds familiar? Maybe by the time you get to the judicial elections you are so tired of trying to figure it out that you just quit there? All of these “ways” of deciding who is the person who may be the judge deciding your case happen. They are all not only wrong but dangerous. There have been elections in the past few years in the counties around us in which the least qualified of all the candidates was elected because of one of these reasons. We have lost great judges from both parties due to a straight ticket vote swing one way or the other.

It is hard for me to make a determination on which judges I would vote for who hear strictly criminal or family cases as I only handle civil cases. Before I vote on those positions, I ask friends of mine who practice before those courts as well as do my own research to decide who I should vote for. In this election, as in elections past, I have created a list of the various courts along with who I recommend for the position. That list will be posted as part 4 of this series.  As an aside I understand why the people running for judge need the backing of a political party as it is expensive and time consuming to run a campaign, but once the general election comes I believe the judicial elections should just list the candidate without party affiliation and making it where any straight ticket vote would not register for either candidate.

When I hear judicial candidates proudly state that they are against lawsuits or for any particular organization for group (whether it be to limit recoveries or be for locking people up), I have to wonder if they are planning on following the law or trying to make law from the bench. “Judicial Activism” is the familiar term.

I know what some of you are thinking: You are supporting particular judges and want us to vote for them because they rule for you? While that would be great, it is not the case. In fact, almost every one of the sitting judges, despite my brilliant arguments, has ruled against me or made a ruling which negatively impacted a position I held (at least once). So why would I support them? Why not just vote for a particular party? I support a particular judicial candidate because I have practiced before them, seen their work, read their opinions (or those of whom they are running against) and want the best judicial branch of the government we can get. I believe in our judicial system and know that there is not a better way in existence to resolve disputes than through a jury trial presided over by a fair and impartial judge. I want a judiciary which treats everyone as equal and not as a statistic to appease their supporters and donators.

For information on how to get registered to vote or to make sure you are registered to vote click here https://carpentercarpenter.com/blog/who-are-you-voting-for-part-1/.

 

Who are you voting for? Part 1

Who are you voting for? Part 1

No one if you are not registered to vote.  In Texas, the deadline to register is October 11, 2016 for the November 8, 2016 elections. If you know you are not registered to vote you can go to this link – https://webservices.sos.state.tx.us/vrapp/index.asp and get registered.  To confirm you are registered go to this link – https://teamrv-mvp.sos.texas.gov/MVP/mvp.do, and make sure all of your information is correct. Once you are registered make sure you have proper ID with you when you go to vote.  There are seven forms of ID which are approved.  They are:

  1. Texas driver license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS);
  2. Texas personal identification card issued by DPS;
  3. Texas Election Identification Certificate issued by DPS;
  4. Texas handgun license issued by DPS;
  5. United States military identification card containing the person’s photograph;
  6. United States citizenship certificate containing the person’s photograph;
  7. United States passport.

So once you are registered to vote, and have your ID ready to go vote, how do you know where to go?  Go back to this link https://teamrv-mvp.sos.texas.gov/MVP/mvp.do, fill out the information and click enter and on the next page, click on the link under upcoming elections.  It will give you voting precincts where you can vote.  I would suggest that you avoid the last minute rush and take advantage of early voting from October 24th – November 4th

        So who are you going to vote for??  The next blog will address straight ticket voting.  A quick preview – don’t do it.

 

Primary Judicial Recommendations (R & D) – Because it’s the only option at this point

Primary Judicial Recommendations (R & D) – Because it’s the only option at this point

 Primary Election  March 1, 2016

Early Voting Period: February 16 – 26, 2016

Republican Judicial Election Recommendations

Supreme Court:

Justice, Supreme Court, Place 3 Debra Lehrmann

Justice, Supreme Court, Place 5 Paul Green

Justice, Supreme Court, Place 9 Eva Guzman

Court of Appeals: Chief Justice, 1st Court of Appeals Sherry Radack

Justice, 14th Court of Appeals, Place 2 Kevin Jewell

Justice, 1st Court of Appeals, Place 4 Evelyn Keyes

Justice, 14th Court of Appeals, Place 9 Tracy Elizabeth Christopher

Fort Bend County District Courts:

District Judge – 240th Judicial District Chad Bridges

District Judge – 387th Judicial District Brenda Mullinix

District Judge – 400th Judicial District Maggie Jaramillo

District Judge – 434th Judicial District James H. “Jim” Shoemake

District Judge – 505th Judicial District David Perwin

Fort Bend County Court: Judge, County Court at Law No. 5 Harold Kennedy

 

Democratic Judicial Election Recommendations

Supreme Court:

Justice, Supreme Court, Place 3 Mike Westergren

Justice, Supreme Court, Place 5 Dori Contreras Garza

Court of Appeals: Chief Justice, 1st Court of Appeals Jim Peacock

Justice, 1st Court of Appeals, Place 4 Barbara Gardner

Justice, 14th Court of Appeals, Place 9 Peter Kelly

If a court is not listed then no recommendation is made for that party candidate.  That could be because I like the other party candidate better or I just don’t know them well enough to recommend them.   Also as a final disclaimer some of my recommendations for the general election may change depending upon the primary results and/or my learning more about the candidates who I don’t know as well.

3 Things that Define Texas in March

Our blog generally focuses on legal issues which impact our clients, but sometimes it is good to take a break and step back and reflect on other topics, like why we love living in Texas. It is March in Texas which, for me, means:

  1. Bluebonnets – “Bluebonnets of Texas they bloom in the spring…” do you know the rest of the poem? If you are from Texas, you probably do. And you probably have at least one photo of you, your significant other and kids in the Bluebonnets. Go ahead and find the picture now, it’s probably one of your favorites. That is, until you take a new one this year. One of our favorite fields is on HWY 71 between Houston and Austin. When you find a great field, let us know.
  2. Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo – It’s time to break out the boots and hat and head to Rodeo, where everyone gets to be a cowboy for a day. I’m a huge Rodeo fan and I hear they even have some fairly decent singers show up. If you really want to take it up a notch, get a duster to go with your hat and boots. If you don’t know what a duster is – well maybe you’re just visiting.
  3. Houston Dynamo – It may not be on your list, but as a family that has been playing, coaching and refereeing soccer for several decades, it is definitely on ours. If you haven’t been, you really owe it to yourself to make it to at least one game to see our local pro soccer team. If you don’t understand the game, no problem. The fans are great about explaining what is going on without attitude. 3 quick notes: The field is called a pitch, the game is called a match and anytime your player goes down just yell “are you kidding me – how is that not a foul.” You will be high-fiving new friends in no time.

It wouldn’t be March in Texas for me without these three things, and we wouldn’t be successful without our Texan (it is a state of mind) friends and clients.

This month we will be celebrating by giving away Rodeo and Dynamo tickets (you are on your own with the Bluebonnets). To enter the giveaway, share your top 3 things that define Texas in March in the comments below. We love hearing what others enjoy about Texas, and are excited to share some of our favorite activities with y’all.