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Judge, County Criminal Court at Law No. 13

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    Mike Renfro (Dem) Attorney

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    Raul Rodriguez (Dem) Associate Judge (City of Houston Municipal Courts) | Attorney at Law (Raul Rodriguez, P.C.)

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Biographical Information

What are the most critical administration of justice issues facing the court for which you seek election as judge?

What criteria will you use when making the final decision about assigning attorneys to represent indigent defendants? Please discuss selecting attorneys from the Public Defender’s Office vs. the selection of private attorneys.

A large percentage of inmates in the Harris County jail are pre-trial detainees. Other large metropolitan areas in Texas are increasingly using no-cost personal bonds for defendants who are accused of non-violent crimes but pose little flight risk; thereby, enabling them to be released while awaiting trial. Do you support the use of personal bonds and Harris County’s Pretrial Services Department for defendants awaiting trial? Why or why not?

Education/Degrees BA in Political Science from Texas Southern University in 1973; JD from Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University in 1978
Professional Experience Admitted to the practice of law by the State Bar of Texas on May 15, 1978. Have tried over 100 cases over the past 391/2 years and have represented more than 15,000 defendants, obtaining many not guilty jury verdicts and dismissals for my clients.
Community Involvement Active Member of Fountain of Praise Church
Campaign Phone (832) 885-7183
Treating everyone with dignity and respect; Ensuring that individuals rights are protected; Being fair to both sides; Concerned for the welfare and safety of our citizens and their communities; Finding ways to expedite peoples involvement with the criminal justice system
This is a subject very dear to me as I have been a part of the court appointed system in Harris County all of my career. Experience and commitment to achieve the best results for the client are key components and I believe the attorneys who do court appointments in this county are like that. Iknow some of the public defenders and they to show the same efforts in their representation of their clients. The court appointed system should not be eliminated however. It is cost efficient and it would cost a lot more to fully fund a public defender system.
Yes. Jail overcrowding is a big factor in this county and implementing more personal bonds and pre-trial services in appropriate cases would reieve that issue. The cost of housing inmates is overwhelming and in many instances unnecessary. I definitely am in favor of releasing more inmates on persnal and pretrial bonds.
Education/Degrees South Texas College of Law - Houston, Doctor of Jurisprudence (J.D.), December 1991 | University of Houston, Bachelor of Business Administration (B.B.A.), December 1982 | John H. Reagan High School
Professional Experience Municipal Court Judge (12 yrs): Presiding over arraignment / trial dockets | Criminal Defense Attorney (26 yrs): Handling felonies / misdemeanors in District / County Criminal Courts | Mediator: Resolving litigant disputes for Civil District Courts
Community Involvement Bar Associations (AWA/HBA/MABAH/SABA) | Democratic Clubs (Area 5/HBAD/Meyerland/Tejano Democrats/ROADWomen) | Civic Organizations (AARP/GLBT Caucus/NAACP) | For a full list of community involvement, visit:
Campaign Email
Campaign Phone (713) 641-4477
Twitter @RaulforJudge
The most critical administration of justice issues are efficiency, fairness and underutilization of established programs. (1) Efficiency: Courts not addressing cases promptly is costly and also results in defendants spending undue time away from their jobs and family. (2) Fairness means a judge should rule on cases under the tenets of the 14th Amendment, free from bias of a defendant’s age, gender, race, religion, national origin, socioeconomic background or sexual orientation. Decisions should be based on the law, and no other criteria. (3) Underutilization of rehabilitative programs: Programs for individuals who have problems with drugs, alcohol, mental illness or domestic violence exist. They could be used more frequently to educate individuals with these issues and to provide skills or training for those who want it but would otherwise not be able to access the assistance. It would also help diminish incarceration rates and the problem with repeat offenders.
When selecting an assistant public defender, I would be inclined to not apply an alternate set of criteria beyond the evaluation process and training they have already undergone through their initial employment with the Public Defender’s Office. When selecting a private attorney to represent an indigent defendant, I would weigh my decision based on education and experience, deferring to the minimum requirements as described in the Harris County Criminal Courts at Law Rule 24.5. In terms of education, an attorney should possess essential knowledge of criminal law, procedures and evidentiary rules in order to demonstrate they are capable of representing an indigent defendant in criminal court. Experience is a key element in determining whether an attorney is qualified. I would use a combination of criteria consisting of the number of years an attorney has practiced criminal law and the number of cases he or she has handled. An attorney must also demonstrate consistent effective counsel.
I do support the use of personal bonds and Harris County’s Pre-trial Services Department for defendants awaiting trial who are accused of non-violent crimes. Many of these defendants, who pose little flight risk, cannot afford to pay for their bond and that is often the only reason they remain in custody. Being incarcerated can be detrimental to these defendant’s families and may further jeopardize their employment. In these instances, a judge can determine if they qualify for a pre-trial release. In general, the purpose of a bond is to ensure that a defendant will return to court to resolve his or her case. If a defendant cannot afford to post a bond but can demonstrate that he or she will return to court to resolve their case, then a pre-trial bond may be appropriate.