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Judicial Q&A: Paul Simon

(Note: I am running a series of Q&As for judicial candidates in contested Democratic primaries. There are a lot of judicial races on the ballot in Harris County this election, and so this is intended to help introduce the candidates and their experiences to those who plan to vote in March. I am running these responses in the order that I receive them from the candidates. I will also be conducting some in-person interviews of candidates who will be involved in contested primaries for non-judicial offices. Please see my 2010 Election page for a full list of Q&As and interviews.)

1. Who are you, and what are you running for?

My name is Paul Simon. I will be 42 this month and am married to my beautiful wife, Robin. We live in The Heights with our two Labrador Retrievers, Hicks, who we adopted from the SPCA, and Bear, who, with the help of Scout’s Honor (an animal rescue group), we rescued from someone who left Bear tied to a tree until he nearly starved to death (his brother did). I have been in the legal profession for 20 years (10 as a practicing attorney). I worked my way through college and law school as a paralegal, and graduated from each near the top of my class. My wife and I are strong Democrats and supporters of our community. We have served on the Boards of a local charity that has given more than $600,000 in scholarships to local medical students, and we donate a lot of our time and resources to many other charities, particularly those that help the poor, breast cancer research, animal rescue, and veterans/police, and I work with the Barbara Jordan Endeavors Corporation, a non-profit that helps students with disabilities.

I am running for Judge of the 295th Civil District Court. Anyone who wants to learn more about me can visit my website (www.paulsimonforjudge2010.com), send an email to me at psimon@shmfirm.com, or become my Facebook friend.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

This Court (and all Civil District Courts) hears all kinds of lawsuits: personal injury; contract claims; consumer cases/deceptive dealings; employment disputes; boundary disputes; defamation and constitutional issues; oil and gas cases; and any other kind of case that is not criminal, juvenile, family or probate. But unlike other civil courts, like Small Claims or County Courts, there is no statutory limit on the amount of damages a person can seek in Civil District Court.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

I am running because I have a passion for the law and because Harris County deserves better than what we have seen over the past 15 years. We deserve judges who respect the law, and judges who are hard-working. Perhaps the best expression of what I’m talking about is something I heard a defense lawyer say recently (of a Republican judge): he said that this particular judge was good for plaintiffs because this judge “bent over backwards to be fair.” It is a sad that someone would equate “being fair” as “favoring” one side or the other. I think we can do better, and that’s why I’m running. 2008 was a good start; let’s do it again in 2010!

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

Technically, I am qualified because I meet the requirements (over 25, resident of Texas, lived in Harris County the required number of years, etc.). But your readers need to know that there is more to being a judge than meeting technical qualifications: I am the best person for this job because I have the judgment, integrity, knowledge and passion to hold this position of trust. Anyone who knows me knows my passion for justice; they know my dedication to the law; and they know my strong work ethic: a work ethic that saw me work full-time and go to college part-time, a work ethic that had me leave the comforts of the Big Law Firm to start my own, a work ethic that my father instilled in me years ago and one that still burns deep inside me today.

5. Why is this race important?

All judicial races are important because judges have a lot of power over peoples’ lives, and we need to make sure we have people with good judgment who can be trusted with the power they have. But the March 2nd Primary is particularly important because of what will likely happen in November 2010. We Democrats are almost certainly going to win Harris County again. And that means whoever wins the Democratic Primary Election in March will almost certainly be sworn-in as Judge next year. There is a lot of trust placed in the hands of our judges, and that trust needs to be held by someone like me who has judgment, who has integrity, and who is earned the support of people who know both my opponent and me.

6. Why should people vote for you in the primary?

People should vote for me because I am the best person for this Bench, but your readers don’t have to take my word for it: they can look to the many endorsements I have earned, including the Coalition of Harris County Democratic Elected Officials, a group of 18 Federal, State and Local Democrats representing Harris County residents; the Houston Black American Democrats (HBAD); the Harris County Tejano Democrats; Area 5 Democrats, one of the longest-standing Democrat Clubs in Harris County; the Transport Workers Union of America (Local 260); and Stace Medellin’s Dos Centavos. I also have the support of the former Chair of the Harris County Democratic Party (John Odam), Ambassador Arthur Schechter (from the Clinton Administration), and Councilwoman Melissa Noriega. I have heard my opponent say that he is the only “real Democrat” in this race, but I would not have received these endorsements from these Democrats if that were true.

I have also heard my opponent say that he is the most qualified candidate, but a good lawyer must have good judgment, and in the judgment of the Democratic leadership, not to mention the Democratic clubs that have endorsed me, I’m their choice for judge. So if your readers don’t know who to vote for, I ask that they trust the judgment of their fellow Democrats and vote for me in the March 2nd primary. (But don’t wait until then: early voting starts February 16th and runs through February 26th.)

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