Change Address

VOTE411 Voter Guide

Denton County District Judge, 431st Judicial District

https://www.txcourts.gov/about-texas-courts/trial-courts/Presidential Year

Click a candidate icon to find more information about the candidate. To compare two candidates, click the "compare" button. To start over, click a candidate icon.

  • Candidate picture

    Jim Johnson
    (Rep)

  • Candidate picture

    Diana Weitzel
    (Dem)

Biographical Information

1. What are the pros and cons of your jurisdiction’s docket system? Explain how this system does or does not help move cases quickly through the courts thus easing the burden of overcrowded dockets in the trial courts.

2. What tools are available to you to reduce the rates of incarceration and recidivism? How will you use them?

3. Do you believe any changes in the current election process are needed to improve or maintain impartiality, given the need to raise funds for political campaigns? Please explain.

4. Discuss the effect of campaign fundraising on judicial independence.

5. Explain any virtue of The Missouri Plan (originally the Missouri Nonpartisan Court Plan, the merit plan or some variation) versus the way Texas currently selects most of the judiciary.

6. How would you handle a situation where an attorney appearing before your court is inadequately representing their client?

7. Explain why you would make a fair and impartial judge.

Campaign Phone (940) 435-9806
Education J.D., Texas Wesleyan University School of Law (now Texas A&M), summa cum laude (top 1%). B.A., Economics, The University of Texas at Austin, with highest honors (top 1%). B.B.A., Accounting and Business Honors Program, The University of Texas at Austin, with highest honors (top 1%). Diploma, Everman High School (Valedictorian). Member, Texas Bar College.
Experience Law Offices of James S. Johnson (12 years covering Business, Family, and Criminal Law). Texas A&M Law School, Adjunct Professor of Law (11 years). CitiFinancial Japan, Inc. (3 years as Chief Executive Officer). Associates International Corporation (7 years as Finance Officer). EY Ernst & Young (9 years as Auditor). Texas-licensed CPA since 1985.
Other Address Home: 6805 Beckworth Lane, Plano, Denton County, Texas, 75024
The 431st District Court’s docket covers all of Denton County with general jurisdiction over all types of cases: criminal felonies (mostly crimes of bodily assault, up to murder cases such as last year's death penalty trial that lasted most of September 2019), personal injuries, medical malpractice, divorce, CPS/custody, plus complex business cases (including fraud, civil conspiracy, deceptive trade practices, breach of contract, trade secrets, insurance code, securities act violations, and property tax foreclosures). Pros of a general jurisdiction docket are that it can help prevent special interest groups over one particular area of law from having undue influence on the Court. Cons are that qualified candidates for this broad knowledge court are fewer. To effectively reduce overcrowded dockets, this court needs to be managed by an attorney with comprehensive legal knowledge (not limited to a narrow specialization) plus proven experience in executive management.
First of all, I want to be clear: I will not legislate from the bench and I believe people should be held personally responsible for their actions. Our legislature enacts laws and my job as Judge is to uphold the rule of law. Within Denton County, our lawmakers have provided several specialty courts with one of their objectives being reduced rates of incarceration and recidivism. I will work to ensure that individuals who qualify for those special programs, such as veterans suffering from combat-related disabilities, or individuals qualifying for drug treatment programs, or persons needing mental health care, are each directed to the appropriate and available specialty courts.
No. The rules in place that govern judicial ethics, when followed as they should be by all qualified candidates, provide proper assurance of impartiality. Rather than enacting new regulations, it’s more important to focus on electing the right persons: individuals characterized by intelligence, integrity, and intensity to do the job right.
I comply with the voluntary expenditure limits of the Judicial Campaign Fairness Act (JCFA), which levels the playing field among candidates’ spending. In addition, the JCFA sets a contribution limit of $2,500 from any one individual plus limits contributions from law firms or PACs. The regulations as enacted help provide reasonable assurance that campaign fundraising will not adversely impact judicial independence, but the primary control is having candidates with a proven career record of independence, fairness, and objectivity such as mine.
I support public election of Judges as done by Texas. In contrast, the Missouri Plan removes election power from the people and places it in the hands of a small committee often dominated by liberal academicians and state bar representatives. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Missouri Plan has moved its judiciary left and that it “is doing no favor to fairness” by making judicial selections “behind closed doors.” I do not support the Missouri Plan. I believe that the public in Texas is better able to hold their judges accountable to know the law and to uphold the law by requiring vetting through general public elections. In addition, I believe that the public is entitled to learn each candidate’s judicial philosophy as revealed (through ethical guidelines and impartial independence) by public elections.
Both the U.S. Supreme Court and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals have long held that the criminally accused have a constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel. Although, in the role as a judge/umpire, there is a presumption that each attorney is undertaking a legal course of action benefitting their client, the judge must ensure fairness when an attorney is performing deficiently in a way that prejudices the client. Accordingly, in a criminal case, I’d consider requiring or appointing advisory counsel to join the case if needed for a constitutionally valid trial. Also, whenever a defendant makes a substantial complaint about effectiveness of counsel, I would conduct a hearing and make findings on whether a change of counsel should be made.
I’ve prepared my whole life for this important job. I have business, family, and criminal trial experience (I’ve handled cases involving murder and other violent felonies, misdemeanors, divorce, child custody, and complex business trials). I am a CPA and former chief executive officer of a multibillion dollar business and have served 11 consecutive years as a professor at Texas A&M law school. I graduated valedictorian of Everman High School then went to UT Austin where I finished in the top 1% of my class with a triple-major in economics, accounting, and business in the University of Texas Business Honors Program. I attended law school at Texas Wesleyan (now Texas A&M) where I also graduated in the top 1% of my class. I’m ready, and I ask that you vote for me, Jim Johnson for Judge.
Campaign Phone (214) 597-8298
Education Bachelor of Science - Indiana State University; Masters of Business Administration - Texas Christian University; Juris Doctor - Texas Wesleyan University School of Law
Experience Over 30 years experience as an attorney and business executive well versed in civil, family, criminal, and animal law with a record of high client satisfaction. Skilled litigator and certified mediator with superior skills in achieving objectives, strategy, legal research and writing.
The Texas Courts greatest challenge is to move cases through the courts. Texas has implemented the efiling systems, expedited trial rules, and implemented Access to Justice Programs. Also Texas has added additional courts to improve the burden of overcrowded dockets at the trial courts.
The District Court I am seeking is a general jurisdiction court but primarily hears family law cases and civil cases however I am a strong proponent of drug offense diversion court that offer court monitored rehabilitative services as an alternative to incarceration, a method that is proven to cost less while simultaneously improving the chance of repeat offenses.
I believe election of judges is very important to maintain accountability and allow the local community to decide the makeup of the justice system. The Texas Ethics Commission provides strong rules to limit the undue influence of donors, and every judge make take an oath of integrity to follow the law.
I believe election of judges is very important to maintain accountability and allow the local community to decide the makeup of the justice system. The Texas Ethics Commission provides strong rules to limit the undue influence of donors, and every judge make take an oath of integrity to follow the law.
Regarding The Missouri Plan, I do not believe a central committee selection process, even if nominally non-partisan would provide enough accountability for judges or give local communities enough input into the selection of judges. The Missouri process puts the process in the control of the elite and is still open to political maneuvering. Retention elections almost never lead to the removal of judges. I would prefer to maintain our current direct elections and perhaps study the underlying qualifications required to run. The Missouri system has also had a negative impact on the diversity of jurists.
As a court, judges serve the public interest to apply rules and standards that protect the public and fair to all people in our judicial system. The courts should remain impartial and apply the law equally and neutrally to all parties and litigants
I have over 30 years experience as an attorney and business executive well versed in civil, family, criminal, and animal law with a record of high client satisfaction. I am a skilled litigator and certified mediator with superior skills in achieving objectives, strategy, legal research and writing. I would apply the laws of the State of Texas to protect the litigants and conduct myself with the utmost professionalism at all times. I possess the appropriate temperament and character, capabilities and credentials, independent and impartial, and the confidence of the public.