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District Judge, 234th Judicial District

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    Jeff O'Dea (Dem) Attorney

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    Lauren Reeder (Dem) Assistant District Attorney

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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 BA/BS Juris Doctorate
Professional Experience 33 years experience as a litigation attorney. Owned and managed independent insurance agency. Adjunct professor property University of Houston Downtown
Community Involvement Pup squad animal rescue Habitat for Humanity Guest speaker legal issues
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Implement procedures to streamline litigation process and reduce litigation costs. Litigation costs are, by far, the most significant barrier to equal access to the courts and this is especially true for individuals who may not have the resources of well financed opponents.

Make timely referrals of cases, if appropriate, to non-profit legal assistance groups.

Make disclosures of obvious conflicts and recuse myself when necessary, and in instances when presiding over a case presents the appearance of impropriety or conflict.
1) Implement standard practices to ensure reduced litigation costs. Presently there are 458 District Courts in Texas. There are 24 District Courts in Houston alone, excluding probate, juvenile, criminal, tax and family court. Each has there own procedures and this adds substantially to litigation costs.

2) Eliminate costly and unnecessary procedures which drive up litigation costs. By way of example and not limitation, pre-trial orders and extensive briefing are unnecessary in less complicated cases.

3) Rule timely and consistently.

4) Issue case appropriate docket control orders following initial scheduling conference rather than standard one schedule fits all orders which result in waste of litigant's time (and legal costs) involved in repeated continuance motions and re-scheduling. This similar practice saves considerable time in Federal Courts.
Education/Degrees BFA - New York University J.D. - Harvard Law School
Professional Experience Assistant District Attorney, Harris County District Attorney's Office (2014-Present); Litigation Associate, Ahmad, Zavitsanos, Anaipakos, Alavi & Mensing P.C (2012-2014); Litigation/Trial Associate - Baker Botts LLP (2009-2012)
Community Involvement • Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast – Board of Directors (2013-present) • The Catastrophic Theater Company – Board of Directors (2015-present) • The Junior League of Houston – Active Member (2014-present) • Houston Bar Association (2009-present)
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The judicial system is a complex and intricate institution that affects not only the particular litigants in a lawsuit, but trickles down and out to attorneys, court staff, and community members. For non-attorneys, the first time someone comes in contact with a Judge or a courtroom can be an intimidating and frightening experience. This is compounded if the Judge on the bench is disrespectful, patronizing, or non-accommodating. As a Judge, I will work to ensure that all litigants feel comfortable, listened to, and respected in my courtroom. I will make sure that any forms and materials made available to pro se litigants are available in multiple languages, and will do my best to operate my courtroom with transparency, respect, and collaboration from the community.
Justice is not for sale. In order for our independent judiciary to continue to operate as a respected and honored institution, we must adhere to the values of impartiality, objectivity, and fairness. There is no room for any actual or perceived bias based on campaign donations or other gifts of value. Suspicion of one judge leads to suspicion of all, and erodes our system of justice. Therefore, while judicial campaigns are political and necessarily involve fundraising, the bench and the courtroom is free of politics and free of favoritism. Everyone that steps foot in my courtroom deserves a fair chance to have their case heard, and I will do my best to ensure nothing comes between any party and that constitutional right.
Harris County Civil District courts are unique in that they hear cases that range from small lawsuits involving hundreds or thousands of dollars in damages to multi-million dollar disputes involving multiple parties and corporations. There is no "one size fits all" docket management system that can adequately control all types of cases. Judges need to be flexible, invested, and knowledgeable about their individual dockets and cases so that they can provide appropriate scheduling. Additionally, I will be diligent in ruling on motions, and will be available to the parties outside of normal dockets and hearings to rule on contested discovery questions in order to expedite cases when possible.