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Germaine Tanner

Next up: Judicial nominations

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With the nomination for Commissioners Court settled, all that’s left for me to do as Precinct Chair is participate in the process to select nominees for the two new courts, the 507th Family District Court and the County Criminal Court at Law #16. As a reminder, here are the new and revisited Q&A’s I published over the last two weeks for the candidates in these races:

507th Family District Court

Jim Evans
Julia Maldonado
Sandra Peake
Chip Wells
Germaine Tanner
Shawn Thierry

County Criminal Court at Law #16

David Singer
Darrell Jordan
Raul Rodriguez

Maldonado, Wells, Thierry, Singer, and Rodriguez were all there on Saturday as candidates. Peake was there as a precinct chair. I don’t know if she voted for a Commissioners Court candidate or not; she had previously sent out an email saying she would abstain from voting, due to her status as a candidate for the 507th. That message led to an email from another chair who called on her to resign from the race in the 507th on the grounds that she had violated the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct by having been listed as one of Rodney Ellis’ supporters prior to the Saturday meeting. Her name is still on that list, so she may have some questions to answer.

There apparently remains some bad blood between Peake and Maldonado stemming from the 2014 primary in which they both competed for the nomination for the 246th Family Court (Peake eventually won the primary by a 51-49 margin). Maldonado filed a complaint against Peake prior to the election alleging that she had an insufficient number of petition signatures. Greg Enos highlighted some of the testimony from the hearing, in which Maldonado ultimately failed to receive injunctive relief. An anonymous (of course) mailer last week brought all of this up, including the same testimony that Enos flagged. I have no idea if this was intended as a hit piece on Maldonado or on Peake because it was anonymous (duh!) and because I barely glanced at it, awash as I was with Precinct 1 mail at the time.

That and the argument about statistics and qualifications have been the main points of contention in this race. Maldonado, Tanner, and Thierry have been the most active in sending email to precinct chairs, with Maldonado and Tanner being the most vocal about qualifications. Chip Wells and Sandra Peake have been much more quiet, and Jim Evans has been basically invisible. I bring this up mostly to note that the lesson everyone should have learned from Saturday is that no one is actually a candidate for any of these positions unless they know for a fact that at least one precinct chair intends to nominate them for the position. My advice to all nine candidates – the 16th Criminal Court at Law race has been far more sedate – is to make sure you have a commitment from a precinct chair for that.

Judicial Q&A: Germaine Tanner

As you know, in addition to selecting a Democratic nominee for County Commissioners Court in Precinct 1, precinct chairs everywhere in Harris County will get to select two judicial nominees, for newly-created courts. There are six people who have expressed an interest in the new 507th Family District Court. Five of them have submitted judicial Q&As to me for prior candidacies This is the Q&A with the sixth candidate.

Germaine Tanner

Germaine Tanner

1. What is your name?

My name is Germaine Tanner, and I am seeking the support and vote of precinct chairs to be their Democratic Nominee to be placed on the democratic ballot for judge of the 507th District Court.

2. Why are you seeking the nomination for this bench?

I am passionately seeking the nomination for this bench because I am convinced that I am the best-qualified person to make a real difference for families seeking redress in the 507th District Court, and among the candidates, there is no one better suited than I am to serve these families with fairness, competence, and excellence.

• I will serve families as a servant-judge in the 507th District Court.

• I will bring “A Breath of Fresh Air” to the family court system.

• I will help to restore fairness and balance to the judiciary.

• I will initiate innovative approaches to educating and assisting families in resolving their conflicts and disputes.

• I will help to move our family law benches forward as a judge who reflects the diverse composition of the citizenry of Harris County.

3. What are your qualifications for this job?

My qualifications for this job include, but are not limited to, the following:

• I have 13 years of practice and experience, (my entire legal career), with an exclusive family law practice, representing and working with hundreds of families in Harris County.

• I have litigated and negotiated cases for my clients in every area of family law, from divorces to appeals.

• I have presented family law seminars to paralegals, attorneys, and high school students.

• I stay abreast of family law policies and changes as a member of the State Bar of Texas Family Law Section, attending yearly our Annual Advanced Family Law Seminar held in San Antonio, TX.

• I have been awarded membership into the exclusive College of the State Bar of Texas, as a result of amassing, every year, more continuing legal education hours than required as a practicing attorney in this state. I am committed to being a lifelong learner.

• I am the only candidate for this position who has had actual “judicial” experience. I am an Independent Hearing Examiner for the Texas Education Agency. This position is akin to that of an Administrative Law Judge.

• I have had diverse work experience in the private business sector prior to my legal career which brings even more added value to my candidacy for judge:

Banking industry in Champaign, IL; Allstate Insurance Company; Golden State Mutual Life Insurance in Chicago, IL; Awarded a competitive, prestigious internship in my third year of law school, working in the legal department of State Farm Insurance Companies, and HISD and Cy-Fair ISD as a substitute teacher.

• I have the wisdom, temperament, integrity, strength of character, and competency — indispensable qualities required for a judge.

4. Why is this race important?

This race is important because the 507th District Court is a newly-created family Court, in which the current judge was an appointee of Governor Abbott.

• Since there was not a primary election for this court position, the precinct chairs will have the opportunity to choose the Democratic nominee to be placed on the November ballot.

• Considering that this race is very narrowly determined, it is important for the precinct chairs to vote for the candidate who most actively, consistently and successfully practices family law.

• Choosing the right candidate will help insure the best chances for winning the election against the current incumbent.

5. Why should the precinct chairs choose you to be the nominee for the 507th Family Court and not one of the other candidates?

In summary, the precinct chairs should choose me and not one of the other candidates because I am the most energetic, best qualified, and most experienced person to serve the families who deserve to be served well in the 507th Family District Court. I will make a difference in their lives and in the way cases are handled in this court. A new court warrants new life and a fresh face with a fresh perspective on how we can move our family courts forward for the greater good of the children and families of Harris County.

• I am the only candidate who is surprisingly new, different, and refreshing –“A Breath of Fresh Air” for the 507th District Court.

• I will cultivate, at all times, the atmosphere of “esprit de corps” in my court.

• I will leverage the attorneys’ time in the court more efficiently, manage the cases of the families more effectively, and integrate wisdom with sound judgment in applying the law to resolving family problems.

Update on the nomination selection processes

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In six days, Democratic precinct chairs in County Commissioners Court Precinct 1 will select a nominee to replace the late El Franco Lee on the November ballot. In 11 days, all Democratic precinct chairs will select nominees for the 507th Family Court and the County Criminal Court at Law #16. This is a brief update on activity related to those races.

About a week ago, I received a letter addressed to precinct chairs concerning the 507th Family Court race. It was sent by fellow precinct chair Natalie Fairbanks and it enumerated the number of Harris County family court cases that each of the six known candidates had been involved in since 2008. I did a scan of the letter, which you can see here. A couple of days later, candidate Germaine Tanner sent an email to precinct chairs arguing that the data in the Fairbanks was inaccurate and incomplete, as all the attorneys in question have been practicing since well before 2008 and the count of cases did not include those “that were filed as post-divorce proceedings between the years 2008-2015, but with a case number that preceded the year 2008”. You can see this email here. Later that same day, candidate Julia Maldonado sent her own email pointing out that there are qualifications beyond number of cases worked, such as board certification, and that some attorneys handle cases outside of Harris County as well. You can see that email here.

As for the County Criminal Court at Law #16 race, the HCDP lists three candidates who have stated an interest in that nomination. Two of them have made themselves known to precinct chairs recently. David Singer, who up till recently was the only candidate I was aware of for this position, sent a letter to precinct chairs outlining his background and qualifications. I thought he had also sent that via email, but if so I can’t find it. This is the back side of his push card from the March primary for the 177th Criminal District Court, which is from an email he did send to precinct chairs in February. It’s a succinct summary of what was in the letter. Last week, I received an email from Darrell Jordan, who was a candidate for the 180th Criminal District Court in 2010. You can see that email here. The third candidate in this race is Raul Rodriguez, who had run for the 174th Criminal District Court this March and like Singer had been a candidate for one of the County Criminal Courts in 2014. I’ve not yet heard anything from him on this race. I do have Q&As from all three from past candidacies – Singer and Rodriguez for 2016, Jordan for 2010 – and will be revisiting those this week.

Finally, on the Commissioners Court race, candidate Georgia Provost made a pair of robocalls to precinct chairs this week. It was the first contact from a candidate not named Ellis, Locke, or Boykins that I received. And I have to say, of all the ways available to reach out to voters, I have no idea why she chose the robocall route. Robocalls have their place in the firmament – they’re a pretty efficient way of reminding people that there is an election in the first place – but given that nobody listens past the first five or ten seconds and you don’t know who actually picked up the phone, why would you do that for a more detailed sales pitch like this race? I mean, there’s 125 voters total for this race. At a very leisurely pace of five contacts per day, you could reach everyone in less than a month, and ensure that you personally get to talk to them. I can’t imagine a less effective strategy for a race like this than robocalls.

Finally, a few days ago I received a letter from Rep. Harold Dutton endorsing Gene Locke for the position. To the best of my admittedly spotty recollection, it’s the only letter I’ve received from an elected official endorsing someone other than Rodney Ellis. At the very least, it’s the only one I’ve received recently from an elected official.

Six days till we pick a Commissioner. Eleven days till we pick two judicial candidates. Hang in there, y’all.