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VOTE411 Voter Guide

Travis County Judge, Court at Law #3

Primary Election: March 6, 2018Early Voting: February 20 - March 2, 2018
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    John Lipscombe (Dem) Judge of County Court at Law #3

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    Paul Quinzi (Dem) Attorney

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Biographical Information

Explain why you would make a fair and impartial judge.

Explain how this office is important to your constituents and what your plans are for improvement.

How would you handle a situation where an attorney appearing before your court is inadequately representing his/her client?

Background I am a lifelong Democrat, a proud union member, and presiding Judge of County Court at Law #3.
Education Bachelor's Degree from the University of Texas at Austin in 1980; Graduate from St. Mary's University School of Law in 1986
I have served the people of Travis County for over 30 years as an appellate attorney in the State’s highest Criminal Court, a misdemeanor prosecutor and a criminal court judge. I have the education and experience necessary to be an effective Judge, and I have had the unique opportunity to deal with criminal cases from the inside out and outside in. I will continue to apply the law in a fair and impartial manner. I have a reputation for being fair and impartial, but also for treating everyone who comes before my Court with dignity and equality.
Misdemeanor courts generally deal with regular people who have made poor choices. I do not believe that conviction and incarceration is an appropriate resolution for most misdemeanor offenders and I have worked hard to ensure that every person who comes into the system has access to appropriate alternatives to pretrial incarceration (release on bond), and appropriate intervention, diversion and rehabilitation programs, as well as access to community resources to help with economic and health problems. I believe I have a duty to give people a chance for a better future.
The most important issue is to see that the defendant is competently represented and that his rights are protected. The remedy depends on many factors--whether the problem occurs before trial or during trial, whether the infraction is slight and limited or major, whether the attorney is appointed or hired by the defendant. If the attorney needs assistance, I’d see that he gets access to the resources he needs. Additional methods may become necessary if the attorney is uncooperative.
Background Former prosecutor and defense attorney for the past 15 years. Expert in expunction law. I raise and handle of therapy dogs (basset hounds).
Education B.A. with honors, NMSU, 1997. Graduated from UT Law in 2001. Guest lecturer at UT and Pro Bono Partner of UT Law Expunction Clinic, 2013 - present.
My experience as both a prosecutor and defense attorney give me a well-rounded perspective of the misdemeanor cases before this court. I understand how the decisions of a judge can affect the lives of the people who come before the court, often permanently. Even if they are not found guilty, just having an arrest record can deny them a job, housing, or professional advancement. My experience on both sides of the courtroom gives me the perspective required to balance our community's demand for justice with a person who has made a mistake, and their need for mercy and a chance at redemption.
I believe that the people of Travis County want a criminal justice system that is fair to everyone in our community, not one that divides us by measures like black or white, or rich or poor. Our current bail bond system, which too often keeps the poor and people of color in jail if they cannot afford bail, until they have lost their job and emerge from court with a conviction that can keep them in a cycle of poverty, is unacceptable to me. I plan to make sure that those who cannot pay bail are brought to court more quickly so that taxpayer money is used for justice, not warehousing.
I would begin by bringing the attorney into my chambers, and sharing my concerns. I would try to determine whether the attorney's deficient performance was due to apathy, incompetence, or a matter of strategy. If it were apathy or incompetence, I would encourage the attorney to withdraw and allow the client to seek alternative representation. If I were convinced that the attorney was doing their best in good faith, I would appoint additional and more experienced counsel that would work with the attorney to make sure that the client's rights were adequately protected.