1990 – 1992, University of Texas School of Law; J.D., 1992
1985 – 1989, Trinity University; B.A.
I practiced civil litigation for 13 years prior to taking the bench 11 years ago. I am running for re-election for my fourth term. I am board certified in personal injury law. My commitment to justice and public service has been recognized by state and local legal organizations when I was named Outstanding Jurist by the Dallas Women’s Lawyer Association in 2017, the Hon. Cleophas Steele Committed Mentor Award by the J.L. Turner Legal Association, Outstanding Texas Trial Judge by Texas Attorney Mediator Coalition and the Outstanding Mentor by the Texas Young Lawyers and Dallas Association of Young Lawyers. I was also elected by my peers to serve as Presiding Judge of Civil District Judges. I have never been reprimanded or suspended.
The 68th District court has increased the number of hearings scheduled on the hearing docket, which has cut the waiting time for parties to get hearings by half. I have also increased the number of cases called to trial in my court, which has led to many weeks where the court has tried multiple jury trials. I have been rated as “qualified” by the bi-partisan Committee for a Qualified Judiciary in all three of my judicial elections (qualified is the highest level attainable by this organization). In the last Dallas County Judicial Management report for the thirteen District courts, my court had the lowest case cost per disposition among the thirteen civil District Courts.
A good example of my efforts to provide access for low income residents is the foreclosure mediation program I established. The program has four parts:
1) MONITORING - The court sends out a notice to the homeowner and the bank for a hearing. This notice is sent in English and Spanish. Both parties are given an opportunity to discuss the situation with the judge.
2) MENTORING – Many homeowners are unaware of the many options available to avert foreclosure. Homeowners are allowed to seek credit mentoring from HUD approved credit counselors.
3) MEDIATION – Homeowners are given to mediate with a specially trained mediator.
4) MODIFICATION -- The goal of this program is to allow homeowners to purse a loan modification.
We have had a rising problem in the Civil District Courts with the number of self represented parties. Self represented parties are at a significant disadvantage given the complexity of the Texas civil law. I have worked with other judges to provide more resources to self represented parties including the creation of a SMU Pro Se Civil Law Clinic. I have also created a resource guide for self represented parties that I provided to all self represented parties in my court. I also provide homeowners facing foreclosure information about resources to learn about loan modification.
Spelman College, BA- Political Science
University of Texas School of Law, JD
I have practiced for 24 years as an attorney. I currently run my own law firm and handle diverse areas of civil law matters including business, family, wills and probate, property, auto accidents and work injury cases. I have been a visiting judge for Dallas County. I have also been an attorney for the state of Texas-by participating in the development of policies and procedures for protecting abused/neglected children; Legal Aid of Northwest Texas-in representing low-income clients in property, consumer contract and debt matters; and the US Small Business Administration-by processing low interest loans for Hurricane victims to rebuild homes and businesses. I have never received a public reprimand or suspension from the State Bar.
Innovations that would be necessary in my court involve technology. The use of skype for handling procedural dockets such as pretrial hearings and other routine hearings. This method lessens costs for attorneys which leads to reduced costs for their clients. This also frees up the docket in order that the Court devote more time and resources to trials that require in-house presentation of evidence.
Also I am a certified mediator and believe that mediation should be required in all cases prior to any trial. I believe that mediation empowers parties to settle their cases in a multitude of ways possibly more suitable to their interests. Also if a trial must be had after mediation, it can help parties focus on the real issues at hand.
One of the responsibilities of a court is the efficient and effective administration of justice to all litigants. Notwithstanding this goal, the court should also be concerned with ensuring that justice is available to all in our society and that our low income residents not get the short end of the stick of justice. One effort is the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program, with which I volunteer, and which provides free attorney representation for low income residents who need assistance with consumer, debt, contracts, foreclosure, landlord/tenant and business dispute matters. These matters are the very cases that civil courts handle in Dallas County. To assist low income residents, we must get their matters heard before the court.
Civil courts, while facing the need for greater efficiency with shrinking county budgets, must ensure that they are providing effective judicial resolution. When the economics of our county become difficult, civil courts must be available to handle the foreclosures, credit problems, consumer and other disputes that arise. For example, the "robo-signing" crises with lenders, consumers and their mortgages were a crucial area that required the civil court's time and review. A court's main responsibility is to provide effective resolution of its constituents' disputes. Once I am elected, I will work to provide the appropriate balance between efficiency and effectiveness.