Texas Decides 2018 Voters Guide
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Voters Guide

Travis County Justice of the Peace Precinct 3

General Election: November 6, 2018Early Voting: October 22 - November 2, 2018

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  • Candidate picture

    Martin Harry
    (Rep)

  • Candidate picture

    Sylvia Holmes
    (Dem)

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Biographical Information

Explain why you would make a fair and impartial Justice of the Peace?

What are the resource needs of the office of Justice of the Peace?

How will you improve the services of the Justice of the Peace?

Background Owner, private law firm, 1996-Present; Staff Attorney, Social Security Administration, 1994-1996; Judge Advocate, U.S. Navy, 1989-1993.
Education University of Missouri at St. Louis, B.A., Political Science, 1985; Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, J.D., cum laude, 1988.
My legal work is evidence of my commitment to the uniform application of the law without bias or prejudice. I am the only candidate who is dedicated to impartiality and nondiscrimination: I will not show favoritism toward lawyers and their clients over unrepresented parties. I am the only candidate abiding by a higher ethical standard by refusing money from lawyers who expect to practice in justice court and their law firms. Also, because the justice of the peace is a judicial office, political neutrality must be observed. I reject the use of this judicial office to promote personal politics.
I believe in the concept of continuous improvement. Upon taking the oath of office, I will begin a review of office procedures and practices to evaluate their cost-effectiveness. I will have a fiduciary obligation to protect taxpayer dollars from waste, fraud and abuse. Many factors affect the needs of the office such as the caliber of employees, available technology and pending changes in the law. Additionally, much work of the justice of the peace is interdependent with other county officials and any changes may require their cooperation. Security is one particular area of concern.
The historical role of a justice of the peace has been as a “keeper of the peace.” My campaign, in part, strives to educate voters about what is a justice of the peace and to raise awareness of matters within the jurisdiction of the office such as animal protection. I will continue these efforts. The objective is to prevent breaches of the peace wherever possible as opposed to remedying them after the fact. Further, the subject of ethics has been a centerpiece of my campaign. We must raise the standard by demanding fidelity to the rule of law and higher ethics regardless of party affiliation.
Background Associate Director, Legal Services for Students, The University of Texas at Austin - 9 years Law Office of Sylvia Holmes - 4 years
Education The University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business, BBA Marketing, 2003 The University of Alabama School of Law, Juris Doctorate, 2006
I have practiced almost exclusively in JP courts for the past 9 years as an attorney representing clients with civil and criminal matters. My work as a legal aid attorney for The University of Texas at Austin takes me into justice courts on a weekly basis, which has given me a unique understanding of the complexities facing a court of mixed jurisdictions. My office works to assist individuals with common traffic tickets, renting disputes, consumer fraud, and a wide range of contract claims. I am licensed in state and federal court, and am also a member of the Texas Bar College.
It is essential that we have a well-trained administrative staff, and that we provide them with adequate financial support (competitive salaries, insurance, paid leave) to retain their knowledge and expertise. Modern courts utilize technology at increasing rates, and it is necessary that associates be trained on filing software, database retention, security methods for digital information, and best procedures for assisting community members seeking help from the court. JP3 is the only Travis County court without a security system, and I would insist on metal detectors being installed.
I aim to modernize the people's court by providing 24-hour access to defensive driving options for standard traffic tickets, extending courtroom hours to help those with nontraditional work schedules (or those avoiding peak traffic times), and increasing resources for individuals seeking to pursue a legal claim without the aid of an attorney. I will provide a publicly accessible computer, pre-printed legal forms in a variety of languages, and a list of local free-to-use and low-cost legal resources for all plaintiffs and defendants.