Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

Jason Luong

Judicial Q&A: Jason Luong

(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.

Jason Luong

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

My name is Jason Luong, and I am running to be the Democratic candidate for Judge of the 185th District Court in Harris County, a felony district court. I have over 17 years of legal experience as a former prosecutor, a criminal defense attorney and civil attorney. My wife is a former Marine. Our daughter attends St. Michael Catholic School and trains with the Houston Ballet. I come from a family of public servants. My father worked for the City of Houston for over 20 years. My mother worked for the Houston Police Department for over 20 years.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

This court handles felony criminal charges, where the range of punishment can range from 6 months in the state jail all the way to life in prison or the death penalty. Drug charges, assaults involving a deadly weapon or serious bodily injuries, third time DWI’s, homicide, sex assault cases and crimes against children are just a few examples of the felony offenses that this court hears.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

I am running to bring my experience as a former prosecutor and defense attorney to serve and represent the citizens of Harris county. In fact, I was a prosecutor assigned to the 185 th District Court. Our courts need to be more responsive to the people they are intended to serve. This means making our courts accessible to people and running them efficiently.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

I have over 17 years of legal experience as a former Harris County prosecutor, civil attorney, and criminal defense attorney. My family and I have strong Texas roots. I am a graduate of Rice University and the University of Texas School of Law, with honors. I started my legal career as a law clerk to a U.S. District Court Judge, where we handled one of the largest criminal dockets in the country. As a Harris County prosecutor, I prosecuted thousands of cases on behalf of Harris County residents, including one of the only prosecutions of members of Aryan Brotherhood under Texas’s Hate Crime Statute. Currently I have my own criminal defense practice where I handle both court-appointed and retained cases. I have tried over 50 cases to a jury verdict. I am passionate about bringing my experience to serve the people of Harris County.

5. Why is this race important?

This race is important because our criminal courts are important. Harris County is one of the most important criminal jurisdictions in the country. The 185th District Court handles the most serious criminal offenses, including crimes against children, serious drug cases, and murder.

This race is a chance for the citizens of Harris County to elect a judge who has the experience necessary for this high office. Furthermore, it is a chance to ensure that our criminal courts reflect the diversity of Harris County. If elected, I would be the only Asian-American judge on any county-wide criminal bench, and I would be the first Vietnamese-American judge elected in Harris County. I believe that our courts, like our juries, should reflect the diversity of our population.

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

The people of Harris County should vote for me because I am the most qualified candidate in this race. I have over 17 years of legal experience. I am the only candidate in this race who has experience as a Harris County prosecutor. I have also been endorsed in this race by The Houston Chronicle and the Harris County Tejano Democrats. I am proud to have earned their endorsement. I will bring a balanced perspective and broad experience to this Court. I would ensure that all persons in my court whether a defendant or a victim, would be treated fairly and impartially under the law.

Endorsement watch: Fast out of the gate

Another thing that has no doubt been affected by the tons of candidates running for office this year: The Chron’s endorsement process, which got off to a necessarily early start yesterday as they recommended candidates in a couple of open-seat judicial races.

Jason Luong

District Judge, 185th Judicial District: Jason Luong

Voters can’t go wrong in this primary race for an open seat but our nod goes to the more experienced candidate, Jason Luong, a practicing attorney for 18 years. Luong left a civil law practice to become a prosecutor and in 2014 unsuccessfully ran for a county criminal court-at-law seat. He now works as a defense attorney. Luong’s resume checks all the prestige boxes: graduated cum laude from Rice University, law degree from the University of Texas, a clerkship with a federal district judge and an internship with the Texas Supreme Court. He likes to tout the fact that he prosecuted a member of Aryan Brotherhood under Texas’s hate crime statute, but Luong, 43, also recognizes that the reality of our criminal courts means that, as he told the editorial board, “administration of justice is often about logistics.” Anyone who has seen the lines for the elevator at the Harris County Criminal Justice Center knows how true that is.

His opponent, Brennen Dunn, is a compelling candidate in his own right, and we’ll be disappointed if we don’t see his name on the ballot again.

Dunn hasn’t been afraid to take risky positions in defense of liberty, such his involvement in efforts to end a civil injunction “safety zone” at the Southlawn apartments. He also has a charisma that would make him a prime candidate to run for a seat outside the judiciary, say for City Council. Dunn told us he is in the race because as a defense attorney, he can help one person at a time, while as a judge, he believes he can help hundreds. Notwithstanding Dunn’s impressive motivation, Luong’s well-rounded background, attitude of public spiritedness and his thoughtfulness about the problems facing the judiciary earn our endorsement.

There was also an endorsement on the Republican side of this race, as well as in another race where the Democrats have an uncontested primary. Here’s Brennen Dunn’s Q&A; Jason Luong hasn’t submitted one yet, but he did in 2014. Given that early voting starts in exactly one month (!), I figure we’ll be seeing endorsements more or less every day from the Chron from now till it’s over.

Judicial Q&A: Jason Luong

(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.)

Jason Luong

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

My name is Jason Luong, and I am running to be the Judge of Harris County Criminal Court 13. I come from a family of civil servants who value public service. My family came here from Vietnam after the fall of Saigon in 1975. My father took a job with the City of Houston where he worked as accountant for over 20 years. My mother has worked as a civilian employee for the Houston Police Department for over 20 years.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

This court handles criminal cases, namely, Class B misdemeanors, where the range of punishment is up to 6 months in jail, and Class A misdemeanors, where the range of punishment includes up to a year in jail. The most common misdemeanors that this court handles are DWIs, assaults charges, theft cases, possession of marijuana and domestic violence cases.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

I am running because I want to bring change to our Harris County criminal courts. Our courts need to be more responsive to the people they are intended to serve. Currently, our courts are run inefficiently, and cases often take too long to get resolved. This hurts both the person accused of a crime and to the victims.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

I have over 14 years of legal experience with strong Texas roots. I am a graduate of Rice University and the University of Texas School of Law, with honors. I started my legal career as a law clerk to a U.S. District Court Judge, where we handled one of the largest criminal dockets in the country. I am also a former Harris County Assistant District Attorney, where I was the chief prosecutor for 2 different County Criminal Courts. As a prosecutor, I prosecuted thousands of cases on behalf of Harris County residents, including one of the only prosecutions of members of Aryan Brotherhood under Texas’s Hate Crime Statute. Currently I have my own criminal defense practice where I handle both court-appointed and retained cases. I have tried over 40 cases to a jury verdict. I am passionate about bringing my experience to serve the people of Harris County.

5. Why is this race important?

This race is important because our criminal courts are important. Harris County is one of the most important criminal jurisdictions in the country. And this court handles the cases—DWI’s, domestic violence cases, thefts, animal cruelty—that most directly affect the lives of ordinary Harris County residents. These crimes and the courts have handle them have direct, severe and long term consequences on the people lives—both on the lives of the victims and the people charged.

This race is also important it is a chance for the citizens of Harris County to bring meaningful change in our courts. Right now, there are no Democratic judges in any misdemeanor court. Furthermore, if elected, I would be the only Asian-American judge on any county-wide criminal bench, and I would be the first Vietnamese-American judge elected in Harris County. I believe that our courts, like our juries, should reflect the diversity of our population.

6. Why should people vote for you in November?

First and foremost, I am the most qualified candidate for Harris County Criminal Court 13. Last year, I was recognized as one of Houston’s “Highest Rated” Attorneys in Houstonia Magazine. Having been a prosecutor, a criminal defense attorney, and a judicial law clerk, I would bring a balanced and broad perspective to this Court. I would ensure that all persons appearing in my court whether a defendant or a victim, would be treated fairly.

Furthermore, I want to bring meaningful change to our criminal courts. Right now, too many people—victims, witnesses and the people charged with crimes—have to wait too long get their cases resolved. This is the hidden cost of our criminal court system. I would use my real world experience as a business owner and my over 14 years of experience as a trial lawyer to ensure that Harris County Criminal Court No. 13 provides the meaningful and timely justice that Harris County residents deserve.