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Armen Merjanian

Please come back again

The Chron asks a few of the candidates who didn’t make it out of the primaries to give it another try some day.

Let us now offer an encouraging observation to good candidates who fell short in this month’s primary elections: Even Rocky Balboa lost his first fight.

Remember that George W. Bush lost his first election and ended up living in the White House. Sylvester Turner lost his first two races for mayor, but he’s now sitting in the big office at Houston City Hall.

The lesson for aspiring elected officials is simple. Even successful politicians sometimes lose elections.

The editorial board has spent the past few months interviewing scores of candidates who took the initiative to run for public office. Even if they had no hope of winning, even if their qualifications have been questionable, their commitment has been inspiring.

A cancer researcher decided to run this year because he thinks America needs more scientists in public office. An ethics expert put his name on the ballot because he’s bothered by cronyism in our state capital. A retired rock-n-roll disc jockey went to a women’s march and came to the conclusion she needed to campaign for Congress. A woman who lived in an RV in Austin so she could lobby state lawmakers decided to run for the Texas Legislature.

We met some mighty impressive citizens who put their reputations on the line and their names on the ballot but ended up losing their primaries. Indeed, many of them faced such stiff competition they didn’t even win our endorsement. But some of them have been so compelling we want to encourage them to stay in politics. They deserve a second mention, because we hope we see their names on the ballot again in the future.

I made the same observation at the start of primary season, along with the hope that some of those folks would take another shot. City Councils and school boards always need good people, and those opportunities will be there next year. Among those the Chron singled out for praise were Jason Westin, Silky Malik, and Armen Merjanian. I hope they take the Chron’s words to heart.

Judicial Q&A: Armen Merjanian

(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 other Q&As and further information about judicial candidates on my 2018 Judicial page.

Armen Merjanian

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

I’m Armen “Hammer” Merjanian and I’m running for Judge of County Criminal Court 5

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

This court hears Class A & B Misdemeanor cases (DWI, Theft, Assault, Criminal Mischief, Fail to Stop and give info, etc.) and Class C (ticket) appeals.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

Because the current judge, Margaret Harris, is a tyrant who violates the rights of the accused on a daily basis and has for decades. She acts as a prosecutor from the bench as opposed to a neutral magistrate. Instead of complaining about it, I’m doing something about it.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

I’m a criminal defense lawyer who’s passionate about criminal justice reform and ending mass incarceration. I’ve helped thousands of Texans in my career and know how to fix what’s broken in Harris County! I’ve seen both sides of our criminal justice system – I was a prosecutor prior to starting my own practice. I’m a proud graduate of South Texas College of Law Houston. I’m also a graduate of Gideon’s Promise, the country’s most prestigious training program for public defenders. I’ve also tried approximately two dozen misdemeanor and felony cases as first or second chair.

I have real life experiences outside of law. I was a high school math teacher, cross country, and track coach for 4 years prior to law school. I lead by example – I was named “North Suncoast Coach of the Year” in 2007.

5. Why is this race important?

This race is important because this court impacts the lives of thousands of Texans every year. We can no longer continue to take away the due process rights of the citizen accused and force them to plead guilty to crimes they didn’t commit because these judges systematically deny PR bonds and are more worried about “docket control” than justice prevailing at the end of the day. Being tough on crime only creates more crime. The time for change is NOW!

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

People should vote for me because I will follow the law. I will waive pretrial appearances for all accused once they have hired or been appointed a lawyer. Personal recognizance bonds will be the norm in my court. I will not punish anyone before they are found or plead guilty; the presumption of innocence will be alive and well in my court. I will encourage the DA to offer more diversions rather than to block pretrial diversions like the current judge does.