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Justice of the Peace, Precinct 7, Place 2

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    Sharon M. Burney
    (Dem)

  • Candidate picture

    Cheryl Elliott Thornton
    (Dem)

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 JD in Law from Thurgood Marshal School of Law 2007 / MS in Future Studies from University of Houston 1997 / BS in Business from University of Houston 1981
Professional Experience 10 years as an Attorney in private practice primarily practicing Probate law. 24 years in Education working as an Administrator, Coordinator and Teacher workimg with highrisk and homeless children.
Community Involvement Works with Shape Community Center to sponsor political, heath, and educational awareness.
Campaign Email sharon_burney@yahoo.com
Campaign Phone (346) 267-7135
Twitter @Burney2018
I would provide as much information about the process as possible to make court use easy for the people and aide their understanding of the process. It is against the rules for clerks to provide legal advice even if the clerk is a licensed attorney. There is a thin line between what a clerk is allowed to say to the people. I would provide written information that answers many of the questions that the people may have or need to know available to the people in the the lobby area for their use. I would provide contact information as to where voters can find free legal aide providers. I would also print information about the court that can be found online for people who may not have access to computers I would enhance ease within the limits the new Harris County operational system.
Much of what needs to be done is controlled by the Harris County system and is out of the hands of the JP. I would work to try and increase the budget of the Pct 7 court. Increasing the budget would allow me to hire more clerks and lower the stress placed on the clerks allowing them to be more efficient.
I believe more attention needs to be given to case load. Over the last ten years Pct 7 Place 2 Justice of the Peace has gone from being classified as a small court, to that of a medium court, and is rapidly rising in case load to that of the larger courts. I would advocate that as case load rise, more funding is needed.
Education/Degrees Trinity University, BA St Mary's University, MA Thurgood Marshall School of Law, JD
Professional Experience Assistant County Attorney, Harris County Administrative Law Judge, Tx Workforce Commission General Counsel, Tx Southern U Assist Attorney General, State of Tx Instructor, Houston Community College and Lone Star College
Community Involvement Houston Bar Association, Chair Gender Fairness Comm., Houston Lawyer's Asso., National Bar Asso., World Youth Foundation, University Museum @TSU, W. MacGregor Homeowners Asso., Prect. Chair, UNCF, American Constitution Society, Women Profes'l in Govt
Campaign Phone (713) 304-1046
I believe the JP Court is the Peoples Court. That name is derived because a majority of those citizens that come before a JP are pro se or are representing themselves. In my court the people will always be treated with fairness, respect and deference. I know that most individuals that take their time to be before the court are there because they want to be heard and adjudicated based upon the circumstances presented. I pledge that all peoples before my court will be heard. I further pledge that upon hearing and ruling that even if I do not rule in favor of the individual, they will leave my court believing that their case was judged fairly.
In JP court more up to date electronic filings and ability to review past case information needs to occur. In other words, I believe the same processes already mandated in the County and State courts should be afforded the JP Courts. Simply stated, each person should be able to e-file all documents. Further, each party should also be able to review their case filings without calling directly to the court. These processes will free up the clerks to concentrate on other constituent services which, ultimately, will make the court more efficient and friendly for all. Although I do want these upgrades, I want to be mindful that we are talking about the People's Court and therefore, will still make available the clerks if a constituent has concerns. Further, when e-filing is implemented I would like to have an e-file service on site to assist those who cannot on their own do this level of processing.
The JP Courts responsibilities and oversight are not totally articulated to the public or to the entity which, ultimately, has oversight over the JP Courts. In order to ensure that the JP Courts are adequately funded and staffed the JP courts must better educate Harris County Commissioner's Court, its ultimate oversight body, about its duties and responsibilities. Through better education of the Commissioner's Court, there can be a better understanding as to why more funding is needed and, respectfully, why more funding should be immediately granted to the JP courts.