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Judicial Q&A: Sherri Cothrun

(Note: As I have done in past elections, I am running a series of Q&As for Democratic judicial candidates on the November ballot. This is intended to help introduce the candidates and their experiences to those who plan to vote. I am running these responses in the order that I receive them from the candidates.)

Sherri Cothrun

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

I am Sherri Cothrun and I am the Democratic candidate for the 311th Family Court in Harris County.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

The Family Courts hear divorces, child custody cases, paternity suits, adoptions, enforcement of prior orders of the court and CPS cases.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

When I announced my candidacy in September of 2013, Denise Pratt was the presiding judge and I ran against her for all of the reasons she ultimately resigned and was publicly reprimanded by the State Commission of Judicial Conduct. My opponent now is Judge Alicia Franklin who was appointed by Governor Perry on June 13, 2014, after she had won the primary run off against Judge Pratt. In the course of reviewing Judge Franklin’s campaign reports, her web site and her vouchers to the County for services rendered in Children’s Protective Service (CPS) appointments on behalf of children or indigent parents whose paternal rights were subject to termination, I discovered several ethical violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct. The ethical violations include misrepresenting her position on her web site after she was appointed (Re Elect Judge Franklin) which has now been corrected, and accepting a campaign contribution from a party during the pendency of the case when she was the appointed amicus attorney for the child.

Most of Judge Franklin’s family law experience has been appointments in CPS cases and in private cases to represent the child or the child’s best interest. A review of her vouchers to the county for work in these CPS cases revealed she was charging the county for 18 to 38 hours in a single day. From January 1, 2010 to July 31, 2014, Judge Franklin was paid by the County over $800,000 for the CPS cases. Additionally, after Judge Franklin was sworn to the bench on June 13, 2014, she continued to practice law both in CPS cases and in private cases. A Judge cannot practice law.

A criminal complaint has been filed with the Public Integrity Unit of the District Attorney’s office by attorney Greg Enos against Judge Franklin for tampering with governmental documents related to her vouchers submitted to the County on the CPS cases.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

I have practiced family law for over 30 years. I am Board Certified in Family Law which means I am an expert in family law. I am a mediator, arbitrator and litigator of family law cases and have vast experience in family law matters. I am also married to my second husband of 17 years and I am a step mother to his boys who were ages 9 and 11 when we married. This experience gives me first hand insight into the issues involving step and blended families. This combination of legal and life experience makes me well qualified to serve the families of Harris County as Judge of the 311th Family Court.

5. Why is this race important?

We must restore experience, competence and integrity to the 311th Family Court. Judges are and must be held to the highest standards of the legal profession. Judges must respect and honor the judicial office as a public trust and work to enhance and maintain confidence in our legal system. Ethical violations and potential illegal activities is evidence of a lack of good judgment, ignorance of the law or indifference to the law. None of which qualify Judge Franklin to remain on the bench.

6. Why should people vote for you in November?

I am the more qualified candidate and I will restore integrity to the 311th Family Court.

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