Change Address

VOTE411 Voter Guide

District Judge, 55th Judicial District

  • Candidate picture

    Latosha Lewis Payne (Dem) Attorney

  • Candidate picture

    Paul Simon (Dem) Attorney

Change Candidates

Biographical Information

What will you do to ensure that all parties involved in cases before the court will have an opportunity to have their interests adequately represented and considered?

How will you ensure impartiality in your court given the current system of financing judicial campaigns, which allows donations from those who may later bring cases before your court?

What will you do to ensure that cases before your court are heard in a timely manner?

Education/Degrees University of Texas School of Law, J.D., 2000; Thomas J. Watson Fellow, 1996-1997; Tulane University, H. Sophie Newcomb Women's College, B.A., 1996, double major Environmental Studies & Political Science & 400m hurdle conference champion; Cy-Creek HS
Professional Experience Civil trial lawyer who has tried personal injury cases and breach of contract cases, among others, to jury verdict and final judgment. Co-founding Partner of woman-owned Trahan Kornegay Payne; Elected Partner in 7.5 years at Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP.
Community Involvement Texas Executive Women (2018 President); Houston Lawyers Association (Past President); Election Protection Legal Volunteer for past 13 years; Over 1700 pro bono hours; Former Mentor, HYLA Leadership 2020 & Communities-In-School Program; HBA Legallines
Campaign Phone (713) 370-1696
As a first-generation college graduate and only lawyer in my family, I understand what it means to be unfamiliar with a system and thus at a disadvantage. I will be fair and will bring a unique and different perspective, as shaped by my experiences, that will ensure all parties have an equal opportunity for justice, or “fair shake,” under the law. l will provide a welcoming, informative courtroom that treats all litigants with the respect—whether they are an individual or corporation, or represented by an attorney or not. I will make sure the court has enough available oral hearing days so that motions may be heard quickly. I would also want to restart an initiative I worked on as a young lawyer to offer pro bono young lawyers the ability to assist pro se litigants that cannot afford an attorney at trial. I will provide clear and understandable court procedures, which will be available in the courtroom in several languages. I would like to have a Spanish speaker on my staff.
I will voluntarily comply with the Judicial Campaign Fairness Act and I will follow Texas law in cases in which disqualification is required or recusal is appropriate. I will decide cases based on the facts and the law. I will never let a campaign contribution affect my rulings.
I will dispose of all judicial matters promptly, efficiently and fairly. I will change the docket management system in the court to automatically schedule cases for trial shortly after a defendant has answered. I will make sure there is an adequate amount of time on the court's hearing docket for motions and other matters. I will also make decisions on motions presented to the court in a timely fashion. I believe that justice delayed is justice denied, so the more cases that the court can resolve, either by motion or trial, the more Harris County citizens can obtain justice in civil courts.
Education/Degrees B.S., University of Houston (cum laude) J.D., South Texas College of Law (2000)
Professional Experience 18 years as a civil trial and appellate lawyer, handling all kinds of cases a civil court will hear for plaintiffs and defendants. "First-chaired" approximately 150 cases to judgment, settlement or other resolution.
Community Involvement "Judge" moot court and mock trial competitions at area law schools; tutored HISD elementary schools;
Campaign Email
Campaign Website
Campaign Phone (713) 703-6363
Efficiency. It is not uncommon for lawyers to wait 30 days or more to have a court hear his or her client's issue (called a “motion”), and sometimes lawyers must wait 1-2 hours on the day their motion is heard before it is called. These things delay resolution of the case and cost the parties money in the form of more legal fees. Preparedness. If I am honored to serve, I will always be prepared by reading the parties’ papers before their hearing. That doesn’t always happen, and that wastes time because the lawyers must get the judge “up to speed” on basic things about their case so the judge can resolve the motion. Because the courts’ schedules are already tight, a few minutes’ delay here and there can add 1 or more hours of waiting time to cases farther down the docket. Fairness. I have no agenda other than my love of the law and to decide cases based on the law and rules. A good referee is not noticed during the game and never remembered after. That is my goal if I am elected.
I will not take contributions of more than $1,000 from any lawyer, law firm or PAC (or combination of them) and I will not play games with the rules to circumvent my self-imposed rules, which are stricter than what I could do. I also will have copies of my campaign finance reports in my courtroom for parties and lawyers to take, so they can easily see who has contributed to my campaign.
Most courts only hold regular hearing dockets once a week. Before Harvey, some courts were empty most of the rest of the week. Once the courts return to normal (est. late 2018), I will be sure to use as much of the normal work week as possible to decide cases and preliminary issues. This is in addition to my answer above (efficiency and preparedness). Not every case requires the nearly 2 years it usually takes before it is ready for trial. For those cases, I will ensure they go to trial as soon as possible, while being fair to the parties' needs to develop their cases. The simple steps I outlined earlier will help. Some cases do require more time before they go to trial, and I will work with those parties to ensure their cases get the time they need. My goal is to allow the parties to decide how much time they need and to resolve their disputes about timing fairly (i.e., better outcomes in some cases, like car wrecks, are not improved with 15 pretrial depositions).