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Judicial Q&A: Shawna Reagin

(Note: As I have done in past elections, I am running a series of Q&As for judicial candidates in contested Democratic primaries. 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. You can see all of my interviews as well as finance reports and other information on candidates on my 2016 Election page.)

Shawna Reagin

Shawna Reagin

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

My name is Shawna Reagin and I am a Democratic candidate for judge of the 176th Criminal District Court

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

This is a felony court – it hears cases from death penalty capital murders down to state jail felony offenses, such as low-level drug possessions and thefts.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

I was judge of this court from Jan. 1, 2009 – Dec. 31, 2012. I enjoyed the work and was good at it.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

a) I have over 26 years experience handling felony cases, at the trial and appellate levels;
b) I was voted Best Judge in Houston 2009 by The Houston Press;
c) During my previous term on this bench, I greatly reduced a bloated docket and was consistently among the top courts for number of cases tried;
d) The 176th took the “gold” for its division by trying the most cases in the first half of 2012;
e) Certified by the Harris County Board of Judges to represent indigents accused of capital murder;
f) My life experience has enable to see and understand issues from diverse points of view.

5. Why is this race important?

Judicial races and the functions of district courts have more impact on the whole community than many people realize. Although the criminally accused and their families are affected by their individual cases, a judge’s decisions on probable cause, setting bail and conditions, appointment of counsel to the indigent, oversight of a case’s status and the actual trial itself, all have a ripple effect far beyond any one case. As awareness of racial inequities in the criminal justice system, from the street up through conviction and appeal, continues to rise, it important for people to realize that casting an informed, responsible vote and showing up for jury duty both have a greater effect on remedying potential injustice than any other actions.

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

In addition to my qualifications and experience as set out above, which are unique to me in this primary race, I was and will be a very hard-working judge who believes the taxpayers deserve a full day’s work by their public servants. I routinely stayed in chambers until at least 6:00 PM or later, to be available to review requests for warrants and orders needed by police officers after hours. I also remained “on call” even when it wasn’t my term, due to living in a central location and not ignoring or harassing prosecutors who needed to find a judge at night. I served on any committee requested by the presiding judges with whom I served, and did my best to bridge the partisan divide, such as I and my fellow Democrats elected in 2008 did to help ensure the Public Defenders Office was instituted.

Criminal court is not a happy place, and a judge’s decisions seldom leave anyone completely happy. However, I did my best to make the most fair and appropriate decisions in every case, based on the information I had. I pledge to the people of Harris County that I will continue to serve in this manner, if they see fit to elect me in the primary and then again in November.

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