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Voters Guide

Collin County Justice of the Peace, Precinct 4

4-year term. Must be 18 years or older, a U.S. citizen, a resident of Texas, and a resident of the district represented. Responsible for civil cases and criminal misdemeanor cases punishable by fine only.

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  • Candidate picture

    Carissa Picard

  • Candidate picture

    W. M. "Mike" Yarbrough

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Biographical Information

Prevention: What measure do you support, if any, to reduce the quantity of school truancy cases?

Accessibility: The JP Courts are often referred to as “The People’s Courts.” What measures do you support to make the JP courts more accessible to the people?

Other Issues: What other issues do you believe will be most pressing for the county Justice of the Peace courts, and how would you address them?

Education B.A., Political Science, Trinity Washington University, Washington, DC; J.D., Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, DC.
Experience Six years of legal experience, primarily in healthcare and residential real estate finance. Two years as founder and president of a non-profit for military wives.
Twitter @picardforplano
Campaign Phone (214) 966-1962
I support the decriminalization of student truancy that occurred in 2015 and I believe truancy cases are best dealt with from a problem-solving perspective. Teenagers who are struggling to attend school are not criminals and should not be treated as such. It is important for the Court to ascertain the motivation behind the absences. For example, are the absences attributable to difficulties getting to school that are beyond the control of the student? Is there a change in home circumstances that are contributing to behavioral difficulties?

There is no one way to deal with truant students. Every student is different, and the ruling of the Court should be tailored to the needs of each student. I am an advocate of the imposition of community service as well as behavioral health interventions when necessary. I see truancy cases as an opportunity to have a positive effect on struggling students’ lives. Any time we can help our students, we should—even truant ones.
Currently, Collin County has a great website for individuals who want to file a petition for relief. However, it would be helpful to have short instructions on the Court forms and a FAQ page (and printed brochure) with very simply information about filing and answering a petition. The JP Courts are an affordable and efficient means of adjudicating civil disputes. The more our residents know about the availability of the Courts, as well as how to navigate them, the less likely we are to have default judgments. Indeed, just rulings rely on participation by both parties. As a result, it is important that we offer information (both on-line and off-line) in the simplest, clearest way possible to encourage participation by as many parties as possible.
Collin County is economically and ethnically diverse. Our county’s residents are best served by Justices who represent and/or are sensitive to that diversity. Just outcomes very often rely on the likelihood of an adjudicator understanding the circumstances underlying the parties' conduct. The judicial flexibility of the JP Courts allow for consideration of those circumstances when ruling. Election of Justices who are as diverse as the general population will increase the odds of compassionate, but fair, judicial outcomes.
Education B.A. University of New Mexico (1977), J.D. California Western School of Law (1982)
Experience USMC Judge Advocate, International Trial Observer, Asst. U.S. Attorney, Asst. & Adjunct Professor of Law, University of Oklahoma, Asst. D.A., Dallas Co., Municipal Judge, Justice of the Peace, Collin Co., Director, State Bar JP Court Section
Justice Court 4 truancy filings are minimal. Collin County has developed county-wide truancy policies that assist our school districts in dealing with truancies. This combination of organization and effort is noteworthy.
Justice Court 4 is open Monday through Friday. The customer Service counter remains open during the lunch hour to assist our citizens. Civil litigants and defendants in criminal cases are permitted to represent themselves in court, without the necessity of hiring an attorney. Also, certain fees may be waived by the Court to ensure access for all. I hold open dockets 3 days a week to accept pleas and answer procedural questions from parties which provides them information, but not advice ( that would raise ethical concerns).
Judges do not work alone. We require administrative staff to efficiently operate our courts. The robust economy translates that private sector jobs are in demand. Therefore, the quality of new applicants for county employment appears to be lower. The county competes not only with the private sector, but municipal, state, and the feds for workers. I support the county's HR department in their efforts to make us market competitive for present and future employees without unfairly burdening the taxpayer.