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District Judge, 275th Judicial District

  • Marla Cuellar (Dem)

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    Patricia "Patty" O'Caña-Olivárez (Dem) Attorney/Alternate Municipal Court Judge

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Biographical Information

What are your qualifications for the job, and how do your qualifications (education, training and experience) make you the best candidate?

What, in your view, are the most important challenges to the office you are seeking, and how can you best serve your constituency during your term of office?

Describe the areas and types of law you have practiced in the last 10 years and the ways they will impact your ability to serve.

What are some specific ways that a judge’s credibility, fairness and consistency can be evaluated?

How do you maintain impartiality, given the necessity of raising funds for political campaigns?

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Age 44
Education Honors Graduate from Mission High School, BBA in Management from The University of Texas Pan American, Juris Doctor from St. Mary's University School of Law
Experience August 2002-December 2002 Law Office of Tom Wilkins, January 2003-May 2005 Law Office of Fernando G. Mancias, May 2005-Present Law Office of Patricia Y. O'Cana-Olivarez, December 2014-Present Alternate Municipal Court Judge for the City of Alton
Military Service None
List of endorsers Alton City Council, La Joya City Council, Penitas City Council, Sullivan City Council, Mission CISD School Board Trustees Roy Vela, Jerry Zamora, & Charlie Garcia III, Mission City Comm. Dr. Armando O'Cana, Sr. & Jessica Ortega, Mission Fire Fighters Assoc. Local 3609, McAllen Fire Fighters Assoc. Local 2602, La Joya ISD School Board, Palmhurst Comm. Ruben De Leon, Edinburg City Comm. Gilbert Enriquez & Jorge "Coach" Salinas, Edcouch-Elsa School Board of Trustees, & others but out of space.
My 15 years of legal and litigation experience has provided me with knowledge of the law and courtroom procedures. Being an Alternate Municipal Court Judge has provided me with judicial experience. During my tenure, I have exhibited the courage to apply and uphold the law regardless of who is before me. It has also provided me with an opportunity to balance compassion and understanding for all parties involved. A “black robe” is not to shield a judge from being held accountable. Instead, I believe that it is an obligation to abide by a high standard of conduct. With the combination of my experience, traits, and values, Hidalgo County voters should feel confident that in voting for me, they are electing a qualified individual to be their next Judge of the 275th District Court.
I can best serve my constituency during my term by providing fair rulings and an equal application of the law, regardless of who is before me. Unfortunately an important challenge is to create and maintain trust from the Hidalgo constituents. However, being that I have served my community for almost 10 years as a public servant, I feel that I will be carrying the trust that I have gained into this office. I have proven that as a School Board Trustee and Municipal Court Judge, I can make the difficult decisions and be held accountable.
I have practiced in different areas of law for 15 years, such as family, civil, criminal, and probate. I have worked on cases that vary in degree of complexity. Aside from providing me with an active courtroom practice, they also provided me knowledge in said areas. Whether it was for an uncontested or contested hearing or trial, I was prepared for each case. As a mediator, I have worked to dispose of matters in an efficient and cost effective manner to the parties. Mediating provided me with the experience to deal with people in different circumstances and under all conditions. The same goes with respect to me being President of the Mission CISD School Board and an Alternate Municipal Court Judge. One of the District Court Judge’s responsibilities is to execute search warrants and arrest warrants. As an Alternate Municipal Court Judge, I have already been faced with those scenarios for 3 years.
One way is if there were a Judge's evaluation system implemented that would be used similar to job performance evaluations. However, currently, it is either by a person's personal experience with the judge or a watch group that keeps tabs on how a judge disposes of cases or handles their courtroom procedures. You can also track a judge's record as to how many cases get appealed, remanded, or overturned. This is why people need to stay informed. An elected office belongs to the people. The people "give the office" and can "take away the office."
I emulate the work ethic of my parents, teachers, and each person that has influenced my life along my path. In my public service tenure, I have proven that I have acted with integrity, good faith, open-mindedness, respect, and trustworthiness. My parents also raised me with the values of respect and honor. If you abide by the law, apply it to the facts before you, and allow your values be your moral compass, then there is no question that you can be impartial.