I have a degree from the University of Louisville, a Masters Degree in Business Administration from Xavier University and my law degree from St. Mary’s University.
I earned my law degree from St. Mary's University. Admitted to practice law 26 years ago, I specialized in helping families with members who struggled with mental illness, incapacity, and abuse and exploitation of their elderly loved ones. When I took the bench January 1, 2015, some of my goals were to ensure a steady efficient work flow, reduce trial delays, but at the same time increase mediation so we didn’t have to put families through the stress of a public trial. In the last 3 years I have presided over 23,000 probate and approximately 24,000 mental health dispositions.
I developed and implemented the County Guardianship Program which has saved lives and reduced the cost to taxpayers by reducing the number of incapacitated who use emergency resources in high volume.
My mother has always been motivation for my civic service. She was as member of the LWV in the 60s and was involved with the first Board to look at the issues of the aged and disabled in Ohio during the 1960-1970s.
As a community, we need to invest more money and services to assist our mentally ill. That’s right- they are OUR mentally ill. Mental illness transcends social and economic status. It affects our young, old, our Veterans, our wealthy and our poor. First our society must destigmatize the way we look at those struggling with mental illness. To that end I have engaged with various communities including the faith community to destigmatize mental illness.
I modified and improved our out-patient commitment docket honing the care management expertise needed for transitioning patients from inpatient to outpatient services.
The Court continues frequent contact with first responders to the needs of the mentally disabled and other stakeholders who provide services to the mentally ill.
As a Court and a court system we must always be improving and educating our community. We owe it to the people to give 100% all of the time. And part of that effort is educating the people. Since I took the bench, I have been regularly speaking with Veterans groups, social groups, neighborhood associations to educate our population on the need to have end of life directives and a will. Who is going to speak for you when you cannot? We have made special efforts to visit lower income communities whom we have found are less likely to have their wishes in writing, but are just as interested in preparing and crave information.
The Court has provided probate informational pamphlets that help explain the probate process.
We created a probate court website for family guardians for citizens needing a small estate affidavit. The Court continues to have a strong relationship with our military families and serves them with a special docket so they can be with others who have a departed veteran.
Licensed as an attorney in Texas for twenty years; 12 years of work in Probate Court.
I studied Philosophy at the University of Dallas, and really enjoyed learning about Bioethics (the application of ethics to complex medical issues). In law school, I was fortunate to be able to earn a Masters in Theology (with a concentration in ethics) at the same time as my law degree. Since law school, I have helped countless clients face extremely difficult situations. I have also worked closely with both Probate Courts and Adult Protective Services to serve and protect the mentally ill, disabled, and demented members of our community (and to prevent some of them from going under Guardianships when it was not necessary). My work in Probate has become a passion.
All people, disabled or not, must be treated with dignity and respect. The key is to provide systems (and to implement those systems consistently) which support the disabled and allow them to be as independent as possible. In my experience, most attorneys who practice in Probate Court are aware of the need to support the mentally disabled. Those of us who practice in Probate Courts exclusively also usually know of appropriate resources (group homes and supported communities) to enable the mentally disabled to succeed.
Absolutely. There is a tremendous amount of misinformation about the mental health docket, for instance, as well as the role of the Probate Courts in the life of every person in Bexar County. Being a judge is a full-time job, but there are opportunities to educate the public about the importance of the Court and to dispel myths. I frequently give presentations on guardianships and the probate process in general and am very happy to continue doing so.