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VOTE411 Voter Guide

Justice of the Peace, Precinct 3, Place 2

CHOOSE TWO CANDIDATES FROM BELOW TO COMPARE
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    Lucia Bates (Dem) Marketing Consultant - Community Leader

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    Don Coffey (Dem) Judge and lawyer

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Biographical Information

The JP courts are frequently described as “The Peoples’ Courts.” As Justice of the Peace how would you ensure that this role is fulfilled in your court?

What changes, if any, are needed in JP court processes and procedures in your precinct to make the court more efficient and effective in fulfilling its duties?

The Justice of the Peace is charged with many responsibilities, what steps do you believe need to be taken to ensure that the JP Courts are adequately funded and staffed to do their job appropriately?

Education/Degrees Master of Business Administration Bachelor of Business Administration
Professional Experience Self Employed - Certified Advertising Consultant Advertising Director - Houston Community Newspapers Advertising Manager - Houston Chronicle Certificates - Harvard Business School of Publishing Princeton Premier Registry - Bus & Professional Leader
Community Involvement • Chairman- North Channel Chamber of Comm. •Director- North Shore Rotary •President – NF Subd •Advisory Committee – San Jac College, Galena Park, Sheldon, Chnlv ISD'S. YMCA Board, Advisory Panel - Lyondell-Equistar,
Campaign Email info@luciabatesforjp.com
Campaign Phone (281) 352-2593
As a community leader, I interact with various organizations on a weekly basis and suggestions are made as to how to improve the relationships between the community and the court. I would create an atmosphere where those having to appear in court are treated with respect while adhering to the rules of the court. I would conduct myself in a professional manner and judgments would be fair. I would collaborate with existing groups to provide options such as mediation and community service for truancy. I would also re-instate the Teen Court on a full time basis.
Submit a proposal to the Commissioners Court to include conducting Court at least twice a month at a location on the North East Side of Precinct 3 that is currently under-served. If this request is not feasible, I would also propose once a week having court from 10:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M. to accommodate individuals having to work or giving others enough time to make the court hearings.
The Commissioners Court has been very fair with funding of the Precinct 3 Place 1 Courthouse. It would be beneficial to analyze all current positions. The current employees should be qualified and have the skill set to perform in their positions based on job requirements. If not, there may be an opportunity for special training to get them up to par. This helps in having a department that runs efficiently making it easier to get funding from the Commissioners Court, if and when the need arises.
Education/Degrees AA, Lee College; BS, University of Houston, Magna Cum Laude; JD from University of Houston School of Law
Professional Experience Licensed attorney since 1993. Judge since 2011
Community Involvement Faith Presbyterian Church, Baytown Rotary club, Past President of Baytown Lions Club, Lee College Regent for 31 years, member of GCCISD bond committees, United Way Allocation committee member, Board member Baytown Welfare League
Campaign Email don@judgecoffey.com
Campaign Website http://coffeyforjudge.com
Campaign Phone (281) 787-0002
As a licensed attorney, I have the training to insure pro se parties understand the process to present their side of the case. I provide certified Spanish language interpreters when needed. My staff provides names and phone numbers of free legal representation organizations. If needed, each party is allowed at least one reset to insure their ability to present their case. When warranted, I have appointed attorneys to represent juveniles in truancy cases using law school legal clinics. I have developed simple fill in the blank forms for the filing of cases and detailed instructions as to the processes involved. In my court representing yourself does not put you at a disadvantage even when the other side has a lawyer. I practiced in the JP courts and I want my verdicts to be based on facts not on skillful representation.
I was appointed by the other 15 JP's to chair a committee to better distribute cases between the different courts. Currently one court gets 45% of all Sherriff's citations for the entire county. This creates long lines and is a great inconvenience for the defendants. I have met with the 4 highest volume Constables and the Sheriff to better distribute where the citations are filed. Ultimately I hope to have a system where they will be filed in the court closest to the defendants residence or at least where the infraction occurred. Setting up computer kiosk in my lobby for easy access to paying fines and filing cases is a goal as well. I am adamant though that JP's will never require cases to be filed online as some other courts are requiring. Approximately 40% of the residents of Precinct 3 do not have internet access at their homes. Access to the peoples court must remain available to all and being able to walk in and file your case is something that must be preserved.
JP's are unique among judges because we have individual budgets and we hire our own staffs. The courts are currently engaged in a work load study to determine if our staffing levels need to be adjusted based on workload. The redistribution of cases and a new software program have changed workloads among the 16 courts. This study and continued efforts to use technology and policies to level case filings is crucial to provide adequate funding. Eventually facilities must be part of the counties priority in assuring the public is able to access the JP courts as conveniently as possible. I have budgeted monies over the past 7 years to make upgrades to all public areas and to provide better service to the public. While my courthouse at 701 W Baker in Baytown is in excellent condition, many others are not and that will require significant capital expenditures by the county.