Texas Decides 2018 Voters Guide
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Voters Guide

Justice, 1st Court of Appeals, Place 6

6-year term. Hears appeals on civil and criminal cases from lower courts in its district. Current Salary: $154,500Plazo de 6 años. Escucha apelaciones sobre casos civiles y penales de los tribunales inferiores en su distrito. Salario actual: $ 154,500.

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    Harvey Brown

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    Sarah Beth Landau

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Biographical Information

Background: What training, experience, and background qualify you for this position?

Access to Justice: What recent technological developments provide opportunities to improve the state's indigent defense system in civil and criminal cases?

Responsibilities: Which responsibility of a Justice, Court of Appeals, is your highest priority and why?

I have authored over 550 signed opinions during my almost 8 years on the appellate court and heard over 300 trials during my 6.5 years as a district judge for 6.5 years. The Texas Supreme Court appointed me to the committee that advises it on proposed changes to the procedural rules governing trials and appeals.
The trial court's record is now available to the parties electronically. Previously parties had to come into our court to check out the record, copy it, or pay for a disc. The parties may now submit their briefs electronically. Previously, they had to submit the original and five copies of the briefs. There are free email providers. If a party does not wish to use the e-filing system, they are not required to do so. These technological improvements lower the cost of preparing an appeal.
Appellate judges must write well, understand the law, and listen to the parties and the fellow judges on the panel so the parties receive a fair, well-reasoned result. Judges must follow the law rather than make law so your vote on your legislators counts. When a judge does not strictly apply the words of the constitution and statutes as written by our legislature, the judge embraces power that is reserved for the people through their legislators. I will not do that.
I have practiced law for 20 years, most of them as an appellate specialist. I clerked for a federal judge after law school, practiced civil as well as criminal, public and private, state and federal, appeals and trials. Currently, I am a Harris County Public Defender and an adjunct professor of appellate litigation at Texas Southern University.
The implementation of electronic filing supports broader access to justice. On the criminal side, creation of the Public Safety Assessment for scoring people who are arrested to determine whether they can be released on a personal release bond rather than a cash bond can help indigent defendants be released from jail.
The highest priority for any judge must be justice and fair treatment for all who come before the court. Cases cannot be prioritized according to whether they involve a large law firm instead of a public defender or whether they are civil or criminal. All cases are important. The court belongs to the people and must follow the law without fear or favor. Having justices with diverse professional and personal experiences helps the court eliminate blind spots that can lead to poor decision-making.