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459th District Judge - Civil (Travis County)

Primary Election: March 6, 2018Early Voting: February 20 - March 2, 2018
CHOOSE TWO CANDIDATES FROM BELOW TO COMPARE
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    Maya Guerra Gamble (Dem) Attorney

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    Greg Hitt (Dem) Attorney

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    Aurora Martinez Jones (Dem) Associate Judge, Travis County Civil District Courts

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Biographical Information

Explain why you would make a fair and impartial judge.

Discuss the effect of campaign fundraising on judicial independence.

How would you handle a situation where an attorney appearing before your court is inadequately representing his/her client?

What are the most pressing problems in the District Court Judge office and how would you address them?

Background From Montopolis to Yale: Maya’s significant experience in civil and family law and deep ties to the community guides her to always help others.
Education Austin High School, 1988; Yale University, B.A. with distinction, 1992; Yale Law School, J.D., 1996.
I have the legal and trial experience to quickly grasp the intricacies of the cases in front of me, the strong working knowledge of the rules of evidence to make clear and correct decisions efficiently, and the life experience to run the courtroom with compassion. I know what it’s like to be the lawyer with a case worth hundreds of millions of dollars and I know what it’s like to be the lawyer with a mother facing the possible loss of her family. Nothing is more important to me than a fair courtroom; I bring the leadership we need for a fair courtroom that is also efficient and compassionate.
Ideally, judicial candidates would not need to raise campaign funds. Without public campaign financing the only choice would be to appoint judges. Currently, with our state government sometimes seeming to be at war with our local government that would be an unacceptable alternative. We have procedures for the recusal of judges if they cannot be impartial for any reason. We have financial disclosure requirements, voluntary financial limits, and other safeguards to guarantee the impartiality of our judges.
Incompetent representation requires a judge to take appropriate action, including informing the State Bar so it can take necessary action against the lawyer, and I would not hesitate to do so. Lawyers should have the freedom to represent their clients with the strategies the lawyer and client believe is best. If an inadequacy, or perceived inadequacy, is actually trial strategy then a judge should not take action and I would not interfere.
Meaningful participation is the most pressing problem our courts face. I will foster meaningful participation and fair trials by avoiding arbitrary limits, by issuing clear rulings, and by offering accommodations needed for fairness. I intend to hold office hours to solicit feedback from the legal community to keep my courtroom operating at the highest possible level of performance. And I will continue to use trauma-informed practices (as I do in my law practice) to make sure that persons such as veterans and victims of domestic abuse are not further traumatized by the courts.
Background I have lived in Austin for 40 years and practiced law for 25. I am Board Certified in Family Law. My wife is a schoolteacher. We have 3 daughters.
Education B.A., Plan II Honors, UT Austin. J.D., UT Law School, 1992. Mediation Certification, UT Center for Public Policy Dispute Resolution, 2009.
I am a student of the law. I am committed to the highest standards of integrity and fairness. I am a member of the State Bar College, and the Barbara Jordan Inn of Court, organizations that promote scholarship and civility in law. I have practiced law for 25 years and am Board Certified in Family Law. I am a trained mediator and value my role as a neutral in cases I mediate. I have earned the respect of my peers and have a reputation for being fair, and having a calm, deliberative temperament.
Electing judges who are respected and trusted by their peers and the community is the most effective way to guard against undue influence. The Texas Code of Judicial Conduct requires judges to avoid even the appearance of impropriety. Canon 2(B) states: “A judge shall not allow any relationship to influence judicial conduct or judgment.” Canon 3(B)(5) states: “A judge shall perform judicial duties without bias or prejudice.” I have voluntarily submitted my campaign to the rules of the Judicial Campaign Fairness Act. As a judge, I will abide strictly by the letter and spirit of the Canons.
Judicial Canon 3(B)(8) requires a judge to “accord to every person …the right to be heard according to the law.” Attorneys can be held accountable without shaming them or tilting the scales. I intend to establish a robust mentorship program to which I will refer attorneys who need help. If I believe an attorney is impaired, I will make a confidential referral to the Texas Lawyers Assistance Program for voluntary help with substance abuse and mental illness. If an attorney engages in sanctionable conduct, I will refer the attorney to continuing legal education in addition to other remedies.
The rule of law, which is the concept that all people should be subject to the same laws and should equally benefit from them, is under attack by some leaders. For our legal system to remain relevant, all of our residents must have access to the justice system regardless of race, gender identity, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic or immigration status. I am committed to running a courtroom that adheres to that principle. I will work with my colleagues on the civil bench to ensure safe access to the courts is a priority in Travis County.
Background Progressive Judge. Life-long Democrat. Former sole practitioner, family & civil law. Daughter of immigrants. Wife & mom of 2.
Education BA Government, The University of Texas at Austin. JD, The University of Texas School of Law. Child Welfare Law Specialist, NACC
I have proven myself as a progressive judge running a trauma informed court to achieve the best outcomes on the hundreds of cases I have overseen. It is my role and responsibility as judge to take the time to understand everyone as an individual person, to hear them out on their perspectives of their problems, and to work with them for solutions. As a member of the judiciary I see my role as not just the judgment maker, but as a leader to ensure we are continuing to move the court system forward to a more progressive way of functioning so that we reduce the inequities that are inherit in it.
Electing judges versus appointing judges both have their pros and cons. In Texas we elect our judges. Whether someone donates to your campaign or supports you or vehemently opposes you should have absolutely no bearing in the courtroom. In the years I have served as Associate Judge I have done so with fairness, clarity, and compassion at the forefront of my work. I view my role as a public servant as paramount whether I am on the bench or in the community. I will continue to serve with the utmost integrity as 459th District Judge.
I would first invite all attorneys on the case to talk privately in my chambers to find out if there is an underlying issue or concern that could be addressed discreetly. If the attorney is a court appointed lawyer, I would provide an opportunity for the indigent party to request a new attorney. If the issue lies with a lack of knowledge or experience on the part of the attorney, I may require a more seasoned lawyer to work as co-counsel with the attorney to ensure that the party they are representing has effective legal representation.
Two pressing issues are the ability to be an effective judge as soon as possible and the crisis in our child welfare system. I have spent years as Associate Judge working with our Civil District Judges and have the experience within the system where I will be ready on day one because I already oversee hundreds of cases per year. As for child welfare, we need a judge with the passion and knowledge to help ensure we are taking care of our children and vulnerable populations. Our foster care system is broken and looming privatization will only make it worse. We must be ready to take action.