Texas Decides 2018 Voters Guide
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Voters Guide

Justice, 1st Court of Appeals, Place 9

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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    Jennifer Caughey
    (Rep)

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    Peter Kelly
    (Dem)

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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?

Since my appointment to this seat, I have authored 100 opinions and contributed to many more. I have given every case due time and respect and faithfully applied the law as it is written. My prior experience--including my rigorous law firm practice, judicial clerkships, and education (Princeton and Harvard Law)--prepared me well for this role.
I am still learning how to improve the indigent defense system. Technology can help. For instance, we can make certain forms and rules easily available, so defendants will not miss deadlines or fail to meet procedural hurdles. Technology could also provide access to information and law concerning legal theories, claims, and defenses. Pro bono work is also important--and was a priority of mine in practice. Access to justice is essential, and I am open to suggestions of how we can improve.
My highest priorities are to (1) give every case time and respect, reading everything before me and exhaustively researching the law, and (2) faithfully apply the law as it is written. Our system of government only works when judges respect separation of powers and follow the law. The legislature (and contracting parties) make law, and it is our job to apply the law as it is written. People trying to follow the law know only what it says. We also must follow binding precedent.
Campaign Phone (832) 303-3121
Practicing for 28 years, and Board Certified in Civil Appellate Law. Have represented individuals and families in every appellate court in the State of Texas and in the US Fifth Circuit; among other leadership positions, am on the Texas Supreme Court Advisory Committee and am Chair of the Amicus Committee of the Texas Trial Lawyers Association.
The widespread ability to access the internet and communicate through it allows the dissemination of forms, advice, and case-specific information to the parties who need. Video conferencing, to allow attorneys to appear in court for brief hearings without traveling to the courthouse, is an underutilized tool. The issue is not susceptible to a quick technological fix, though--it is a matter of legislative political will to make justice available to all.
To fairly and impartially render judgment in all cases, and allow justice and equity to all litigants. One thousand of Anglo-French jurisprudence has given us a rich common law, which is now often abridged or distorted by a statutory overlay. It is the duty of judges to ensure that common law principles--which are expressly incorporated into the U.S. and Texas Constitutions--continue to inform the interpretation and application of legislative enactments.