Texas Decides 2018 Voters Guide
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Voters Guide

District Judge, 148th Judicial District

District JudgeTexas District Courts are the trial courts of general jurisdiction in Texas. "The geographical area served by each court is established by the Legislature, but each county must be served by at least one district court. In sparsely populated areas of the State, several counties may be served by a single district court, while an urban county may be served by many district courts."[1] The district courts often have concurrent jurisdiction with the Texas county courts.As of September 2013, there are 448 district courts in Texas. District courts have one judge per court.District courts have original jurisdiction in all felony criminal cases, divorce cases, cases involving title to land, election contest cases, civil matters in which the amount in controversy (the amount of money or damages involved) is $200 or more, and any matters in which jurisdiction is not placed in another trial court. While most district courts try both criminal and civil cases, in the more densely populated counties the courts may specialize in civil, criminal, juvenile, or family law matters."

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  • Candidate picture

    Bill Kelly
    (Rep)

  • Candidate picture

    Carlos Valdez
    (Dem)

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Biographical Information

Describe your legal experience for the type of judicial position you seek, including previous bench experience as well as legal counsel for bench and/or jury trials.

This court's past efforts to reduce repeat incarcerations (recidivism) have been successful.

Explain your answer, including what you would do to improve this.

What changes, if any, would you make to the Presiding Court system?

The Nueces County Pre-Trial Assessment initiative has been a success.

Explain your answer.

What will you do to ensure that all parties, involved in cases before the court, will have an opportunity to have their interests adequately represented and considered?

The 148th District Court is a court of general jurisdiction. It hears family law, civil law and felony criminal law cases. In my career I have been a civil defense/ family lawyer, I have tried jury and bench trials where custody of children and millions of dollars have been in dispute. I am board certified in family law which required me to earn the recommendation of the judges and lawyers I worked with and the pass a day long test. Recently I have been a mediator and an arbitrator which allowed me to resolve disputes which is better preparation for being a judge then advocating as a lawyer.
Strongly disagree
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Agree
Strongly agree
The 148th Court was the Veteran’s Court. When a veteran was arrested the case could be diverted to the 148th where instead of going through the normal criminal proceedings the veteran would be put through an intense process which took into consideration the unique issues and challenges a veteran faces. The veterans that completed this difficult program have a much lower recidivism rate then those defendants who go through the regular criminal justice system.
The District Courts in Texas are divided into regions which each have a presiding judge. These judges make policy for the district courts an assume administrative duties like appointing visiting judges. Locally the District judges have a presiding judge who takes on extra responsibilities. The sacrifices of the administrative judges allows the other judges to focus on the efficient administration of their courts instead of administrative duties. My perception of the Presiding Court System might change after being on the bench but at this time I would not change it.
Strongly disagree
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Neither agree nor disagree
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Strongly agree
Nueces County has been a leader in this initiative. Before this initiative many non violent defendants who were not a flight risk were being held in jail awaiting trial because they could not make bail. In America an individual is presumed innocent until proven guilty yet these individuals lives were disrupted, jobs were lost families damaged, all at great cost to the tax payers who paid to keep them in jail. Now we are looking at criminal histories, if it is a violent offense and other factors instead of standard bond amounts that often kept defendants in jail for small unpaid bail amounts
This question focuses on work ethic and personality. I have spent my career developing a strong understanding of the legal principles and statutes that would be applied in this court. I have already attended the Advanced Criminal Law seminar to address an area where I have less experience. As a mediator I have to resolve disputes by getting people to agree, which does not happen if they feel they haven’t been heard. I have developed the patience and listening skills necessary to make sure parties are heard. I believe these skills will translate well to the bench.
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I have served as County Attorney. District Attorney, and City Attorney. I've been appointed as special master in mental commitment cases on several occasions. I have extensive and well documented trial experience. I have personally tried some of the most important and highly publicized cases (both civil and criminal) in the history of this county. The 148th District Court is a trial court and there is no other candidate for judicial office that has the breadth of trial experience that I have. I have experience in all facets of the law and have dealt with most of the issues in this court.
Strongly disagree
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Neither agree nor disagree
Agree
Strongly agree
Rate of recidivism can best be addressed by the social science programs and corrective measures administered by and through a community supervision (probation) department. A properly functioning community supervision department working in conjunction with, and overseen by, a trial court is the most effective way to reduce the rate of recidivism in this county. I will work very closely with our community supervision department, in appropriate cases, to track these cases and to do everything possible to reduce the rate of recidivism in this county.
The appointment of a Presiding Judge for the Judicial Administrative Region is established by state statute. My only suggestion would be to reduce the administrative region covered by the statute. It presently includes most of south Texas and should be more localized to increase the effectiveness of the presiding judge.
Strongly disagree
Disagree
Neither agree nor disagree
Agree
Strongly agree
The initiative has not been in use for a long enough period of time to be able to make a proper assessment of its effectiveness. Programs like this should be assessed over a long period of time and compared to historical numbers in order to determine true effectiveness. I have always believed in being innovative and trying new methods to address some of the pressing problems that our courts must deal with on a daily basis. But we should also assure that the methods we employ are allowed the time necessary to determine their effectiveness.
I will be patient, dignified and courteous to litigants, jurors, witnesses, lawyers and others with whom I deal with in an official capacity as a judge. I will require similar conduct of my staff or other court officials subject to my direction and control. I will accord every person who has a legal interest in a proceeding, or the person's lawyer, the right and opportunity to be heard according to the law. I will be faithful to the law and shall always strive to maintain professional competence in it. I will always strive to resolve matters with decorum and in a orderly manner.