Collin County College - Associate’s Degree and Certification in Paralegal Studies.
UNT - Bachelor’s Degree with Certification in Alternative Dispute Resolution.
SMU - Master’s Degree in Human Rights and Social Justice.
I am a trained legal professional who has worked in a law firm and as a legal document preparer. I have facilitated and observed 25 hours of mediation services. I have devoted countless hours to community service with Traffick911 and Bridges to Life.
The ability to reduce school truancy cases begins with the education system. I support a school and community collaboration which encompasses family engagement to identify and remedy external factors hindering educational success. It is also important to note that often the school environment, itself, is responsible for truancy. These environmental factors could include lack of flexibility in meeting the needs of students with diverse learning styles and a curriculum that is perceived as boring, irrelevant, or unchallenging. Schools should promote an environment where students feel connected and are invested in their learning. Therefore, I support expanding and promoting the number of CTE opportunities in each school district. This hands-on learning environment has been proven to combat absenteeism and truancy. With this emphasis, students will be motivated to attend school because they will find creative ways to solve problems, achieve success and effectively become lifelong learners.
It should be the mission of the Justice of the Peace Court to serve the people by offering resourceful and accessible administration of justice. This increased accessibility involves educating the public about the various ways the JP Court serves the community. This includes designing a website for the court that is informative and user-friendly. The citizens of Collin County should be able to visit the website to find information and assistance on civil cases, court proceedings and the various forms applicable to pro se filings. I also see the need to develop a speakers’ bureau, consisting of Judges and court staff to speak to the public and local organizations about the procedures of the court. These educational opportunities would be offered at no charge on a quarterly and as requested basis. This program would help the community better understand the processes and procedures of the court so that individuals can more efficiently use the court without confusion or frustration.
With the tremendous growth in Collin County, our Justice of the Peace courts will experience an increase in caseloads. This growth will equate to a variety of ethnicities and backgrounds entering into the court. In its current state, the JP Courts in Collin County are not equipped to meet this challenge due to the lack of racial and gender diversity. In order to function effectively, citizens must have the utmost confidence in their courts. A judiciary, not representative of the population it serves, undermines that confidence in creating a perceived or actual bias in judicial decision making. An ideal bench is reflective of the broader community, including women, persons of color and other underrepresented groups. I believe that diversity in the legal system improves the quality of justice while building confidence in all communities that courts are fair and impartial. To truly be a "People’s Court", the bench must reflect various aspects of the community which it serves.
College of Justice Court Judges - Graduate
Texas State University - Hundreds of Hours of Continued Education Specializing in the Area of Criminal and Civil Law
Collin County Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace - 20 Years
Collin County Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigator - 7 Years
City of McKinney Criminal Investigator - 8 Years
Teen Court is a program I use for alternative sentencing when managing truancy matters. Truancy is a tiny portion of the Justice Court in Precinct 1. The Texas Legislator changed the truancy laws by creating a more simplified system for truancy offenses.
If the State Commission on Judicial Conduct allowed courts to be preventative, I would focus on evictions. The Justice Courts in Collin County hear hundreds of eviction cases per month. Many of the eviction cases occur because landlords and tenants are not educated about their rights and roles under the law nor do they realize the importance of the signed lease contract. If I were to create a preventative program, it would be in the area of evictions. However, courts by nature and law are not allowed to be proactive in prevention. Remember the blind lady carrying the scales of justice…
In Collin County’s Justice Court 1, I helped developed a software program similar to “Turbo Tax”. This program allows a person instituting a court case by answering a few questions in a drop down box format. When finished, their answers are automatically populated into the proper forms allowing the user to print them out or electronically file them with the court. I have also implemented night court to accommodate for those who are unable to attend court during the day. Customer service is a top priority. One of the many ways we value our customers is by always being available. When you call the Justice Court in Collin County’s Precinct 1, you will always be able to speak to a person directly. You do not have to press 1, 2 or 3 to speak to a real person. You always have the opportunity to speak to a staff member that is educated in justice court operations.
I believe the growth in Collin County will be the biggest challenge facing JP Courts. Collin County’s population in 2040 is expected to reach around 4 million. Unfortunately, the reality is that growth brings crime and crime increases the work of the court system. With the demands of the court increasing, the needs of the people must be at the center of every decision we make. In order for JP Courts to serve the people to their maximum potential, we will have to be creative with the use of electronic communications. Electronic communications, not only benefits the courts through an e-filing system, but it will allow the courts unlimited possibilities.
It is important for us to continue to work with our law makers. Attempts have been made during legislative sessions to expand the role of the Justice Court. We must continue to build strong relationships with our local and state representatives in order to effectively and efficiently manage the growth of the courts.