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VOTE411 Voter Guide

District Judge, 189th Judicial District

CHOOSE TWO CANDIDATES FROM BELOW TO COMPARE
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    Fred Cook (Dem) Partner, Wilson, Cribbs & Goren

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    Scot "Dolli" Dollinger (Dem) Attorney at Law

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    Sharon Hemphill (Rep) Attorney

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    Erin Elizabeth Lunceford (Rep) Attorney/Mediator

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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 Bachelor's Degree, Wabash College, 1979 Law Degree, Vanderbilt Law School, 1982
Professional Experience I have practiced civil litigation in Houston, for both plaintiffs and defendants, in both federal and state trials for 35 years. I have handled a wide variety of litigation, including banking, construction, oil & gas, real estate and trust cases.
Community Involvement I served for many years as a precinct chair & election judge in my neighborhood. I have been active in the Presbyterian church & was Director of the Texas Conference of Churches. I also was active with the Caring for Children Foundation in Bellaire
Campaign Email cook4judge@gmail.com
Campaign Website http://cook4judge.com
Campaign Phone (832) 629-3733
Twitter @cook4judge
My 35 years of litigation experience, representing both plaintiffs and defendants, has given me a comprehensive understanding of the civil justice system and appreciation for the challenges facing litigants. As a judge, I would ensure each side in a matter has the opportunity to make its case to the fullest extent possible. I would consider the evidence and law in each case before me, weigh arguments and make the best possible ruling based on that information.
When I last ran in 2008, I raised approximately $80,000 and approximately half of the donations came from attorneys I had cases against in the past. In other words, many if not most of the lawyers who had cases against me were still making donations to get me elected. While I appreciate all donations, my integrity is precious to me and it will not be compromised at any price.
I will set hearings promptly and not maintain limited lists that force litigants to wait weeks for a hearing on a matter, thus delaying the development of the case. Further, I will try to complete all cases on a two week docket and am looking into some kind of trailing docket to get all cases tried on or near their first setting.
Education/Degrees Northwestern University - Bachelor of Science in Speech - 1984, Emory University School of Law - Juris Doctor - 1987
Professional Experience Dolli has been practicing civil trial law for 30 years helping injury victims. Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law - Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Highest Peer Review Rating of AV® Preeminent™- Martindale-Hubbell.® www.dolli4judge.com
Community Involvement An active member of Praise Chapel Church in Webster, Texas donating over 1,000 hours of free legal services in last ten years. Gives to multiple charities too numerous to list such as Houston Food Bank. Child Advocate and Foster Parent trained.
Campaign Email scot@callthelaw.com
Campaign Website http://www.dolli4judge.com
Campaign Phone (281) 387-9055
Twitter @dolli4judge
I am a very hard worker, extremely organized and efficient. I have tried over 40 civil cases to verdict, litigated cases in over 60 counties, filed appeals in the 1st & 14th Court of Appeals, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and both the Supreme Court of Texas and of the United States. I know how to properly run a court room having worked in court rooms all over Texas for over 30 years. I will follow the law without bias, sympathy or prejudice and allow lawyers adequate time to pick juries making sure no one is excluded based on race, gender or sexual orientation. If people do not have a lawyer, I will give them adequate time to get one and refer them to free legal services available in our community. I am patient. I listen. I learn. I hate injustice. I have a burning desire to do what is right in every case, every time. I believe in justice for all no matter what. I believe ins separation of church and state.
It seems odd that we elect judges through partisan elections to pick the best people from each party who the party thinks can be most fair. Nevertheless, because of caps on donations and transparency in giving, I do not believe our current system of partisan election and campaign giving results in unfair outcomes. If a judge wants to be dishonest -- heaven forbid -- the judge will be dishonest regardless of the system we use. At the end of the day, each judge must have the strength of character to do what is right no matter what every time in every case and follow the law regardless of who the parties are and regardless of who has donated to a judge's campaign. Good judges follow the law and strive for correct outcomes and fair decisions in every case. If they fail to follow this standard of conduct, then we should remove them from office via our election process.
I will work hard every day to conduct hearings and trials efficiently and fairly. I will make rulings quickly, decisively and fairly. I am a student of the law who has been practicing civil trial law for over 30 years. I am ready to be the judge of this court on day one.
Education/Degrees B.S. University of Ill, Urbana J.D. University of Houston, Law Center LL.M. University of Houston, Law Center (Master's of Laws)
Professional Experience Briefing Attorney, Supreme Court of Texas Exec. Editor of the South Texas Law Review Trial and Appellate lawyer, Mediator Trainer
Community Involvement Centrum Arts League, Bd. Northwest Chamber, N.E. Hispanic Chamber, Houston Business Realty Coalition, and many more. Also, I've provided free legal services to individuals in Acres Homes area, and free immigration services to priests and others.
Campaign Address PO 11210
Spring, tx 77391
Campaign Phone (713) 545-1234
These issues are vital as I've represented hundreds of litigants. I will ensure that the court is run in a fair and efficient manner with responsive staff for information, scheduling, hearings and trial matters. Also, I will guarantee that respect is foremost and everyone is to be treated impartially. Litigants need enough time to develop their cases properly to be fairly heard. I will endeavor to research the law to try to be sure rulings are correct so litigants don't have the added expense of trying to correct improper rulings. One avenue that some judge's take is to cut short a litigant's opportunity to be heard by prematurely granting motions for summary judgment ("MSJ") when a MSJ is not proper. A MSJ has a proper place; however, premature and improper rulings are usually catastrophic to litigants who don't have the resources to appeal. I'll work diligently to research law and prevent unwarranted incorrect rulings to try to make sure that everyone has an opportunity to be heard
Impartiality is a key to fairness in our judicial system. While we have a system of electing judges monetary benefits must never play a part in a decision from the bench. I have spent my career donating extraordinary amounts of my time providing my best professional services to under privileged who cannot afford a lawyer. I am keenly aware of the influence that financial benefit appears to have been involved in some cases and how destructive it is to the reputation of that judge because respect is lost -- not only from the litigant and lawyer who lose, but also from the one who gave the benefit. Credibility is compromised and it is difficult to restore. When a judge is influenced by money, others find out and then the winner must worry in each subsequent matter whether someone else has given more. Therefore, partiality based on donations is often discovered resulting in ruined reputation of the judge as well as the paying party.
The staff of a court must organize settings in a prompt manner responsive to the litigant's needs. Telephonic or skype hearings should be employed to save time and resources for litigants and lawyers. The Texas Rules of Civil Procedure provide for litigation scheduling; therefore, many noted experts believe additional court ordered scheduling operates to cause litigants having to expend unnecessary additional time and resources. Lawyers should have choices regarding scheduling orders. It’s important to reduce requirements which causes unnecessary over-production of documents, witnesses and/or information prior to a case being ripe due to fear of preclusion. We need to listen to the lawyers, promote agreements, reduce unnecessary expenditure of resources to the extent possible without compromising the litigants case. There must be a balance between efficiency and each litigants ability to develop his or her case. My court will respect these values and promote these goals.
Education/Degrees B.A. Economics, cum laude: University of Colorado 1983 J.D. University of Houston Law Center, 1988
Professional Experience 29-year practicing trial attorney who has tried 33 jury trials and handled over 38 appeals, including to the Texas Supreme Court. I was also the appointed Judge of the 61st District Court from 2015-2016.
Community Involvement Former PTA/PTO Volunteer and officer for my children's HISD schools, former Girl Scout leader and trainer for 13 years, current HBA board member and volunteer on numerous committees providing public service.
Campaign Email erinlunceford@gmail.com
Campaign Phone (713) 906-6722
Twitter @Erinlunceford
I will make sure that all parties have timely and correct notice and opportunity to be heard before the Court. As the former Judge of the 61st District Court, I made sure that everyone was present and able to have their say before considering any dispositive motions, and would reset cases when people needed additional time to retain counsel or just additional time to respond to motions or to go to trial. I also made sure that if pro se litigants were considering obtaining counsel, they were given time to do so. Finally, at hearings I always asked the attorneys and litigants if they had any additional arguments to make or briefing to file and would wait until all additional information was submitted before making any rulings.
I have never considered the existence or non-existence of campaign contributions when ruling on any cases in my previous court; and neither would I do so in the 189th. The truth is that it is very hard to remember which lawyers belong to which firms and since most judicial contributions are from law firms, I never kept track of who had donated to my campaign when they were appearing in front of me in Court, and nor would I do so in the future. It is unfortunate that we have to solicit money from the lawyers and law firms who appear in front of us, but that is the only avenue of fundraising available.
As Judge of the 61st District Court, I made sure that docket control deadlines were complied with by the lawyers and moved cases to trial as quickly as possible. I also would hold emergency telephonic hearings and in person emergency hearings to move those cases along when the parties could not agree on issues. Those practices would be continued in the 189th District Court. I would also make sure that I did not waste jurors' time by dealing with the legal issues in a trial both early before court, or after 5pm when the jurors went home. It is not fair to jurors to keep them waiting while the lawyers argue legal issues to the Court. I also would work to move cases along efficiently and quickly, to minimize the strain on jurors in my court. Finally, it is important to be flexible and work with the parties to accommodate witnesses and parties when presiding over a jury trial. I would continue all of those practices as Judge of the 189th.