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VOTE411 Voter Guide

County Probate Court No.2

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    Michael Newman (Dem) Attorney

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    Jim L. Peacock (Dem) ATTORNEY

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Biographical Information

What skills do you possess that make you uniquely qualified to serve as Probate Court Judge?

What are the major administrative issues facing the Probate Court and how will you work to address them?

What will you do to ensure that the interests of all parties in the cases before the court are addressed and protected?

Education/Degrees B.B.A. (with Honors) - University of Texas, Austin, Texas-1977 J.D. - University of Houston College of Law, Houston, Texas-1980
Professional Experience Licensed as a Texas lawyer since 1980. Since 1999, I have represented hundreds of clients in guardianship, probate and trust related litigation. I have tried cases in all four Harris County Statutory Probate Courts.
Community Involvement I am a frequent speaker on Ethics for the Houston Bar Association and other bar associations. I am a speaker on various Probate topics for attorneys and legal assistants. Please see resume that will follow via email.
Campaign Email
Campaign Website http://Under Construction
Campaign Phone (713) 942-2501
I am knowledgeable in probate, guardianship, and trust related litigation and administration. Since 1999 I have devoted my practice to cases involving the precise cases and issues I would be hearing and ruling on. I have been a certified mediator since 1992 and have mediated hundreds of cases involving contested probate and trust issues.

How I would work to resolve major administrative issues include the following:

1. Persons serving as Judges need to have the requisite knowledge and experience to make proper and timely rulings based upon case facts and the correct application of law rather than for any other reasons.

2. Persons serving as Judges need to be diligent and be prepared for the motions and cases they will hear in advance of hearings and rendering decisions.

3. Persons serving as Judges need to work harder to ensure hearings are set on a more frequent basis.

4. Persons serving as Judges need to manage their dockets more effectively so not to keep lawyers and parties waiting.

5. Persons serving as Judges need to ensure that citizens with inadequate financial resources have the opportunity to retain quality legal representation at reduced rates they can afford. I would encourage attorneys to render their services at lower rates.

I will be diligent, work hard, and listen to all evidence and not prejudge cases.

I will set regular hearings and schedule trials on a regular basis so motions and cases will not languish.

I will make timely rulings based upon case facts, trial evidence and the proper application of case law only.

I will eliminate the practice of cronyism and favoritism.

I will treat all lawyers and parties appearing before me fairly regardless of age, county of origin, economic circumstances, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, race and religion.

I will encourage lawyers to represent clients in need at reduced rates or on a pro bono basis.

I will make sure interpreters are available whenever needed.

I will treat all persons appearing in court with dignity and respect.
Education/Degrees Texas Tech University School of Law: Doctor of Jurisprudence, May 1981, Board of Barristers. Best Advocate Award. Rice University: B.A., Biology & Behavioral Science 1977, President’s Honor Roll, Varsity Basketball. Lamar High School: Honors Graduate
Professional Experience Over 36 years of complex litigation, thousands of clients, hundreds of trials. Represented Executors, Guardians, Plaintiffs, Defendants, Individuals, Partnerships, Governments and Corporations. Many multi-week trials. Mentored lawyers, taught CLE.
Community Involvement Active in pro bono legal work. Volunteered on flood damage repairs. Support animal adoption and have fostered dogs. Active in voter registration and participation. Political activist for civil liberties.
Campaign Phone (713) 225-6500
I have the judicial temperament and broad experience to perform the multifaceted duties of a probate judge. I have tried hundreds of cases. My practice has covered very diverse areas of law on both the plaintiff and defense sides and I have dealt with virtually any matter that could come before the court. I have drafted estate documents, represented executors, guardians, beneficiaries, trustees and been the executor and trustee for estates, but, I am not part of the probate clique. I can bring a fresh and honest approach to the court while still providing competence from my extensive and diverse experience. Real life events have taught me the importance of having a judge that is unbiased, fair and knowledgeable. I believe in access to the courts for all persons and I oppose the trend to restrict it. I have seen how arrogance from the bench can create a hostile environment and I hope to be a patient, tolerant, humble, servant oriented, judge.
These are busy courts with duties managing probate and guardianship matters, but also trial courts with broad jurisdiction. The judge must manage time and personnel efficiently to provide services for both the ministerial functions of probate and the more esoteric aspects of litigation. This has led some judges to deny trials to litigants that should have been able to try their cases in the probate court. These problems are a combination of time management and staff supervision paired with judges that may not be experienced in litigation or inclined to give the time necessary for complex trials. The judge must be prepared by experience and training to provide a fair trial. He must also be able to manage and supervise staff for the timely completion of the daily routine of moving the estates forward and protecting the wards in the guardianships. I have both the trial and administrative experience to provide fair trials while also managing and motivating staff on administrative issues.
Probate courts are trial courts, but often, probate judges are not trial attorneys and they lack the abilities, experience and willingness to provide a trial when one is necessary. I have extensive trial experience and will give litigants a fair and timely trial if requested. I will follow the law without bias or prejudice and rule promptly. I will respect the time of the parties, but, will not use arbitrary limitations on voir dire, witness presentation, and argument. I am not part of the probate clique that has been a problem, over the years, for the probate courts’ reputation and I will not tolerate corruption or abuse of the system by guardians, ad litems or attorneys appearing before the court. The appointment of administrators, ad litems and guardians will be based on qualifications. Their payments will be fair and carefully scrutinized to protect the assets of the wards and beneficiaries. I will give the time and do the work to make my court open, fair, efficient, and just.