Texas Decides 2018 Voters Guide
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Voters Guide

Bexar County Court-at-Law No. 15

Judges serve 4 years and hear misdemeanor crimes, mostly DWI cases.

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  • Candidate picture

    Bob Behrens
    (Rep)

  • Candidate picture

    Melissa Vara
    (Dem)

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Biographical Information

How would you make your court (or the court you are running for) more efficient?

Please explain your thoughts on recidivism and how your court can reduce repeat incarcerations.

Do you think that judicial races should be non-partisan? Why or why not?

Campaign Phone (210) 744-3456
Campaign Email bobforjudge15@gmail.com
Experience BA Criminal Justice UTSA 89; M.P.Aff. UT 92; J.D., St. Mary's U. 94. Intern @ DA office Drug Impact Ct 2 yrs. Tried felony jury trials as 3rd year law student. 20 yrs practice handled 1000's of criminal cases, ~200 family law, and others. Dozens of felony jury trials. I have 4X THE EXPERIENCE OF MY OPPONENT AND MUCH MORE ACTUAL TRIAL EXPERIENCE.
Facebook At time of response @bob415judge. Waiting on change to @judgebehrens
Twitter @judgebehrens
By continuing to set cases frequently so prosecution and defense have to address their cases often. When I took the bench this court had a trial backlog of ~500 or more cases. We had to run 2 trial dockets per week of 25-35 cases each for 15 months until we could have one trial docket per week. Since 1/1/15 we reduced our trial docket ~90%. Our trial docket is now ~60 cases, allowing us to set just 8-10/wk. We had a similar experience with pretrial motions, reducing from over 200 to about 30.
This is too complex for 500 words. Preventing recidivism requires addressing proper parenting and education to instill self esteem, to name a couple issues. Sometimes it is generational. Ongoing research continually provides probation departments with innovations such as cognitive behavioral programs to address recidivism. My court has few incarcerations. Most cases are resolved by placing defendants on probation which they usually complete, though some require extra court action to do so.
Yes, separate from state/national elections, so they can be based on EXPERIENCE and not voters' political affiliation. Some voters use party labels to vote for judicial candidates which leads to inexperienced attorneys being elected as judge. Judges are required to be neutral and impartial. Decisions should be based on the relevant law and facts of each case, though the most fiscally conservative conditions that still promote best outcomes for society and defendant should be applied in each case
Campaign Phone (210) 735-1900
Campaign Email votemelissavara@gmail.com
Experience I have practiced criminal law, family law, wills and estates, personal injury and other civil law matters throughout my career. I have both jury and bench trial experience, along with experience with the plea bargain process, suppression hearings, and interacting with probation. I have presently practiced in front of every Bexar County Court.
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Twitter votemelissavara
I will work hard to ensure that County Court 15 is run more efficiently. I will be punctual by starting Court promptly each morning so as to respect the time of all the attorneys, staff and defendants that appear in the Court. I will also embody the judicial temperament that is necessary to run an efficient court by being fair, impartial and compassionate to anyone that may come before me. Lastly, I will work together with the other courts, and assist with overcrowded dockets, should time allow.
I think that the key to reducing recidivism is to take into account what personal factors are causing the individual to reoffend. If elected, I intend to tailor all sentencing on a case by case basis depending on the circumstances of each individual that may come before me. The answer is not having people sit in a jail cell to “learn their lesson,” but rather equipping them with the tools that are essential to avoid a life in and out of the justice system.
While I can appreciate the position that the judicial races should not be partisan, until there is a better system presented to elect judges, I feel we must do the best with the system that we currently have. Regardless of where I stand on the aisle, if elected, I intent to be fair, impartial and compassionate to every individual that may come before me regardless of race, gender, socio-economic status, or political party. That is the type of judge that the people of Bexar County deserve.