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Judith Snively

Endorsement watch: The clerks

Two more endorsements from the Chron, one of which may be the least enthusiastic endorsement they’ve ever given.

District Clerk: Chris Daniel

The Harris County district clerk’s office runs behind the scenes in our judicial system. It maintains records for district and county courts at law, accounts for legal fees and deposits and administers the jury summons system. For all the drama and justice that goes down in courtrooms, there is nothing particularly exciting about this managerial position. Over the past four years, Republican Chris Daniel has served as a steady hand and deserves another term.

[…]

Daniel is a common presence at community and political events across the county – from heritage festivals to tea party meetings – yet never brings the nonpartisanship of his office into question. With youth and ambition matched by effective governance (he’s 31 years old) Daniel has served as an impressive administrator in an office that had previously suffered from constant turnover.

His Democratic challenger, Judith Snively, 59, works as a lawyer-turned-entrepreneur. You may have seen her at Spec’s promoting the Kardámili line of olive oils, which she imports. In running for the office, Snively points to problems of high turnover among individual district court clerks. That’s a challenge that Daniel needs to investigate in his next term, all while managing the rollout of electronic filing in criminal courts and electronic subpoenas. There is little doubt, however, that Daniel will do his job well.

Daniel had a rough start four years ago after defeating the well-regarded Loren Jackson in the 2010 landslide. I haven’t heard much grumbling about him lately, and the Chron’s assessment of him and his term in office is accurate. Judith Snively made some good points in her interview with me, and she unquestionably has a wealth of experience with the courts. She would certainly make a fine District Clerk, but I’m not surprised the Chron recommended Daniel.

This one, however, was a big ol’ head-scratcher.

County Clerk: Stan Stanart

If you’re an interested voter in Dallas County, then you have the simple pleasure of being able to look at the upcoming November ballot on DallasCountyVotes.org. If you live in Harris County, as of Friday, you get nothing more on HarrisVotes.com than a vague splash page stating that information will be posted “as Soon as it is Available.”

That’s par for the course under Republican County Clerk Stan Stanart.

The county clerk’s office maintains property records, court documents and marriage licenses, but is best known as the office that administers elections. Under Stanart, 58, Harris County elections have been marred by numerous problems and errors. The results of the 2012 primary runoffs were delayed due to technical errors, and the original numbers had to be corrected. His office published an inaccurate manual for election judges during the November 2011 election. And it feels like election information arrives at the last minute in Harris County. Stanart has pointed to human error outside his office as the reasons for delay. There may be truth in that claim, but the buck should stop at the top. After four years of questionable service, Stanart would be a vulnerable target for a strong challenger.

And yet they went ahead and endorsed him anyway, in spite of all that and in spite of the fact that they endorsed Ann Harris Bennett in 2010. This time they decided they didn’t like her, and without seeing a recording of their endorsement interview it’s hard to know exactly why. I will note that despite slapping some Family Court candidates on the wrist for their hostility to same sex couples, the Chron didn’t even mention Stanart’s front and center prominence with the HERO repeal effort. When is this a factor in your endorsements and when is it not, y’all? Some guidance would be appreciated. If they didn’t like Ann Harris Bennett this year for whatever the reason, then they didn’t like her. But that doesn’t mean they needed to endorse Stanart, who has been a mess as County Clerk. They would have been advised to go with “none of the above” instead.

Interview with Judith Snively

Judith Snively

Judith Snively

As I said on Monday, once you get past the District Attorney race, there’s not a lot of high-profile electoral action in Harris County this year, but as we know not being high profile doesn’t make your race any less important. Before I get to today’s interview, I want to note again that I published an interview with Harris County Clerk candidate Ann Harris Bennett for the primary, and I encourage you to listen to it if you haven’t already done so. An office with some of the same types of functions as County Clerk is the Harris County District Clerk, who is responsible for maintaining and providing the records of all activity in the many District Courts in the county. The Democratic candidate for Harris County District Clerk is Judith Snively. A veteran attorney with her own solo general practice law office, Snively was a candidate for County Criminal Court #3 in 2010, where she did us all the favor of defeating Lloyd Oliver in the primary, thus keeping him off the ballot for another year. Snively has done all kinds of law in her career and has spent a lot of time in the county and district courts, and we talked about how she would use her broad experience in the office of Harris County District Clerk:

I will have more interviews in the coming weeks.

July finance reports for Harris County candidates

All of the July finance reports for Harris County candidates are in. You know what that means.

County Judge

Ed Emmett

Ahmad Hassan

Candidate Raised Spent Loan On Hand ================================================== Emmett 312,885 177,017 0 532,257 Hassan 0 0 0 0

Judge Emmett is the big dog, and he has the finance report to show it. Lots of donations in the one to ten thousand dollar range, from lots of PACs and recognizable people. Just over half of what he spent went to Paul Simpson’s successful campaign for Harris County GOP, $90K in total. One of the things I plan to do on each of these reports is search for evidence of any connection to the HERO repeal effort. It’s early enough in the process that the absence of such evidence is not conclusive, but if there’s one Republican in Harris County that I expect to stay away from that, it’s Emmett. I did not see any donations that made me think otherwise in this report.

As for AR Hassan, his report is an adequate summary of his campaign.

District Attorney

Devon Anderson

Kim Ogg

Candidate Raised Spent Loan On Hand ================================================== Anderson 282,834 95,345 0 224,228 Ogg 83,458 99,312 0 61,678

Devon Anderson has been busy, and she has an impressive haul, with a large array of big dollar and not-so-big dollar donors. Former DA Chuck Rosenthal, who wrote a check for $5K, is the most interesting name among her contributors. No surprises or HERO repeal connections among her expenditures. Allen Blakemore gets his usual cut – $30K in consulting fees ($5K per month) plus $8K in fundraising fees.

Kim Ogg’s report isn’t bad, but it’s a definite step down from Anderson’s. One big difference is what while Ogg had a decent number of small dollar contributors, she had far fewer big check-writers. Anderson had multiple donors at the $10K level. Ogg had none, with only three donations at or a bit above $5K, one of which was in kind. She had a number of other in kind donations as well. Her biggest expenditures by far went to Grant Martin, who is also a campaign consultant for Mayor Parker – $39K in fees, plus another $27K for mailers sent during the primary.

County Clerk

Stan Stanart

Ann Harris Bennett

Candidate Raised Spent Loan On Hand ================================================== Stanart 15,750 23,619 20,000 38,728 Bennett 15,663 17,397 10,324 2,251

$15K of Stanart’s contributions came from Commissioner Jack Cagle. He spent $20K on two ads – $15K to Conservative Media Properties, and $5K to The What’s UP Program. He’s the first one to show up with a connection to HERO repeal – not surprising since he attended at least one of their events at City Hall – with a $150 donation to the Houston Area Pastors Council.

Bennett’s contributions included $7,933 in in-kind donations – $3,000 to Thomas Thurlow for campaign office space ($500 per month since January) and $4,933 to Allan Jamail for robocalls for the primary. She had one $1,000 contribution from Jim “Mattress Mac” McIngvale, a couple of $500 contributions, and the rest were small-dollar donations. She spent $5,574 from personal funds on signs and $2,400 on sign placement, all before the primary, and another $3,866 on push cards and door hangers since the primary.

District Clerk

Chris Daniel

Judith Snively

Candidate Raised Spent Loan On Hand ================================================== Daniel 11,800 32,081 74,500 500 Snively 9,300 9,730 4,000 1,774

Daniel had three big contributors – Thomas Morin for $5,000, James Sibley for $2,500, and Sarah McConnell for $2,000 – but the most interesting donation he received was for $250 from the Law Offices of Jack “Father of Kim” Ogg. Most of the money he spent was in the primary – $10K to the HCRP for a print ad, $5K to GOP PAC for a “public promotion”, and $10,500 of the $11,625 total he spent on consulting fees to Blakemore & Associates. If he had any financial connections to the HERO repeal effort, I did not see them.

Snively’s contributions were all small-dollar, the biggest being $500 from CM Mike Laster. Several past Democratic candidates for judicial office – Snively was a candidate for one of the county courts in 2010 – were among her contributors as well. Her biggest expenditure was $7K to the HCDP in two equal increments for the coordinated campaign. Both were made after the primary; unlike Daniel, she was unopposed for the nomination.

County Treasurer

Orlando Sanchez

David Rosen

Candidate Raised Spent Loan On Hand ================================================== Sanchez 7,250 52,838 200,000 200,172 Rosen 8,641 3,984 0 798

You’d think a guy willing to loan himself $200K to stay in an office that pays half that much per year might be willing to spring a few bucks for someone capable of downloading the software needed to fill out the forms electronically instead of doing them in pen and paper and illegible handwriting, but then you’re not Orlando Sanchez. Actually, for reasons I can’t understand, his small list of contributions is done electronically, while his much longer list of expenditures is done by hand. Go figure. Anyway, Sanchez spent $11K on advertising in The What’s UP Program, $5K on an ad in The conservative Review, and a bit more than $5K in fees to Dolcefino Communications. Yes, that’s Wayne Dolcefino, who also has Kim Ogg as a client. No HERO repeal connections for him just yet.

To be fair, if I’m going to gripe about Sanchez filing a (poorly) handwritten report, I’ll gripe about David Rosen doing the same. Seriously, people. Adobe Acrobat is your friend. Rosen didn’t raise much money, and more than half of what he did report was $4,500 in kind from the TDP for access to the voter file, but all things considered he had a decent number of small dollar donors. Money won’t make that much difference this far down the ballot, but having dedicated supporters sure is nice.

County Commissioner

Jack Morman, Precinct 2

Jack Cagle, Precinct 4

Candidate Raised Spent Loan On Hand ================================================== Morman 534,770 79,580 0 1,274,471 Cagle 450,683 108,457 0 363,884

Did I say that Ed Emmett was the big dog? Jack Morman would clearly disagree. I’ve referred to several candidates’ success with small dollar contributors. If you want to know what a campaign based on big dollar contributors looks like, these are the reports to examine. Neither one has an opponent this November, but I looked at their reports because we only get so many opportunities to see what our elected officials are really up to. I’m also checking for HERO repeal activity. I didn’t find any on these reports, but as noted it’s still early days. We’ll have to check back in January for these two since as unopposed candidates they don’t have to file 30 day or 8 day reports. The one point of interest I’ll flag from Morman’s reports is $2,500 to Jared Woodfill’s re-election campaign. Easy come, easy go.

I’m not going to go through the Constable or Justice of the Peace reports at this time, so that’ll wrap it up for now. Like I said, I do expect to see some HERO activity in the next set of reports. That’s why it’s important to look, because you never know what you’ll find.

January campaign finance reports for Harris County candidates

BagOfMoney

In our previous episode, we looked at the campaign finance reports for Democratic statewide candidates. Today, let’s have a look at the reports for candidates for countywide office in Harris County. I’m not going to get down to the Constable or JP level – I’m not aware of any interesting primaries, those districts tend not to be too competitive, and there are only so many hours in the day. Neither County Commissioner Jack Cagle nor Jack Morman has an opponent, so I’m skipping them as well. The real interest is in the countywide campaigns, so here are those reports.

County Judge

Ed Emmett
Ahmad Hassan
David Collins

Candidate Raised Spent Cash on hand ========================================== Emmett 28,600 119,244 401,209 Hassan 0 1,250 0 Collins 0 0 0

The only thing Judge Emmett has to fear, I’d say, is a 2010-style Democratic wave. Other than that, he should win without too much trouble. In the meantime, he will have plenty of campaign cash to spend on various things, including a $10K contribution to the campaign of Paul Simpson, who is challenging Jared woodfill to be Chair of the Harris County GOP, and $5K to the New Dome PAC. It’ll be interesting to see how much he spends on other campaigns from here on out.

District Attorney

Friends of Mike Anderson
Friends of Devon Anderson
Kim Ogg
Lloyd Oliver

Candidate Raised Spent Cash on hand ========================================== Anderson 0 29,730 36,739 Ogg 66,643 8,897 40,771 Oliver 0 0 0

The Friends of Mike Anderson PAC gave a contribution of $66,469.58 to the Friends of Devon Anderson PAC, which closed out the books on it. I presume Devon Anderson will commence fundraising at some point, and will have all the resources she needs. Kim Ogg has done a decent job fundraising so far, but it’s what you do with what you’ve got that ultimately matters. Zack Fertitta had $145K on hand as of his 30 day report in 2012, and we know how that movie ended. Early voting starts in three weeks, you know.

County Clerk

Stan Stanart
Ann Harris Bennett
Gayle Mitchell

Candidate Raised Spent Cash on hand ========================================== Stanart 16,400 19,398 45,969 Bennett 10,748 7,113 2,442 Mitchell 1,138 2,010 0

Stan Stanart has $20K in outstanding loans, which was the case in July as well. His fundraising came almost entirely from two sources – the campaign of County Commissioner Jack Cagle ($10K), and a Holloway Frost of Texas Memory Systems ($5K).

District Clerk

Chris Daniel
Friends of Chris Daniel
Court Koenning
Judith Snively

Candidate Raised Spent Cash on hand ========================================== Daniel 0 15,871 0 Daniel SPAC 31,843 24,166 20,859 Koenning 38,165 48,974 112,814 Snively 5,300 3,095 2,204

Still a lot of money in this race. Incumbent Chris Daniel’s PAC and challenger Court Koenning both have the same outstanding loan totals that they had in July – $74,500 for Daniel, and $50K for Koenning. Democrat Judith Snively has loaned herself $4K. I suspect we won’t see as much money raised in this race after the primary as we do before it.

County Treasurer

Orlando Sanchez
Arnold Hinojosa
David Rosen

Candidate Raised Spent Cash on hand ========================================== Sanchez 23,500 5,577 220,437 Hinojosa 0 1,250 0 Rosen 2,875 2,122 651

Orlando Sanchez’s eye-popping cash on hand total comes from an equally eye-popping $200K loan to himself. This leaves me wondering where he got that kind of money. Did he do really well for himself from 2002 through 2007, when he was in the private sector, or was he just that well off before he was elected Treasurer in 2006? Maybe someone with a journalism degree and some spare time should look into that. Google tells me that his primary challenger Hinojosa is a constable in Precinct 5. Other than paying the filing fee, he had no activity to report.

HCDE Trustee

Debra Kerner
RW Bray
Michael Wolfe – No report

Melissa Noriega
Don Sumners

Candidate Raised Spent Cash on hand ========================================== Kerner 0 810 329 Bray 135 0 135 Wolfe Noriega 0 8,690 9,335 Sumners 0 750 0

Neither Michael Wolfe nor Melissa Noriega has filed a report with the County Clerk; Noriega’s report is from the Houston finance reporting system, for her City Council account, which will presumably be transferred at some point. Not a whole lot else to say except that everyone on this list has run for office at least once before, and with the exception of RW Bray has held office at least once. Who knew the HCDE Board of Trustees would be so popular?

113th District Civil Court (D)
311th Family District Court (R)

Steve Kirkland
Lori Gray

Candidate Raised Spent Cash on hand ========================================== Kirkland 55,065 6,806 35,963 Gray 35,000 30,209 4,791

Denise Pratt
Donna Detamore
Alecia Franklin
Anthont Magdaleno
Philip Placzek

Candidate Raised Spent Cash on hand ========================================== Pratt 146,020 78,361 67,659 Detamore 0 2,591 0 Franklin 15,555 13,595 47,317 Magdaleno 7,562 11,519 299 Placzek 6,700 25,012 149

I’m not interested in watching all of the contested judicial primaries, but these two are certainly keeping and eye on. The 113th is shaping up as a rerun of the 215th from 2012, in which the candidate running against Steve Kirkland is being financed by one person. In this case, George Fleming and the Texans for Good Leaders PAC he runs gave all of the money that Lori Gray collected. I don’t know Ms. Gray – she has responded to Texpatriate’s Q&A, but as yet has not sent answers to mine; if she has a campaign webpage or Facebook page I haven’t found it – but I don’t care for lawyers with vendettas like Mr. Fleming.

As for Judge Pratt, she may have a gaggle of challengers this March, but she’s not feeling the financial heat at this time. She’s also doing what she can to stay in the good graces of the establishment, with $10K to Gary Polland’s Conservative Media Properties, LLC for advertising and $10K to the Harris County GOP for various things (I’m not counting the $2500 for the filing fee). We’ll see how much good it does her.

Still more state and county finance reports, plus the city reports, to go through, and the federal reports should start being posted on February 1. January is a very busy month.

Kim Ogg officially files for DA

This is the marquee matchup in Harris County in November, at least so far.

Kim Ogg

Kim Ogg, the only Democratic yet to announce a bid for Harris County district attorney, said Monday that most voters do not identify with a particular party when it comes to criminal justice races.

“I think the race for Harris County’s criminal district attorney is potentially less partisan than other traditional legislative races,” Ogg said at her official filing at the Harris County Democratic Headquarters.

The former prosecutor who ran Crime Stoppers of Houston from 1999 to 2006 also said recent gains made by Democrats give her confidence.

“I think Harris County poses the greatest opportunity to reflect the change that’s happening in Houston, in Texas and in America,” Ogg said. “So I look forward to representing the Democratic Party as their nominee after the (primary) election in March.”

[…]

[On Monday,] Ogg said she would return the office to the [“trace case”] policy begun by [Pat] Lykos, whose position was that a tiny amount, less than 1/100 of a gram, was not enough to be tested by the prosecution and defense.

See here and here for the background. As you know, I support the Lykos “trace case” policy, so I am glad to see Kim Ogg take that position. I will be very interested to hear what she has to say about reviewing cases under the mandate of SB344 as well.

In related news, I get a daily report from the HCDP about who has filed for what, and I can report that Judith Snively has filed to run for District Clerk. Snively was a candidate for Harris County Criminal Court #3 in 2010 and did us all the favor of defeating Lloyd Oliver for the nomination in that race. Incumbent District Clerk Chris Daniel has a primary challenger, Court Koenning, but I was not aware of any Dem running for this office until just recently. Two candidates for other offices that had previously made their intentions known, David Rosen for Treasurer and Traci Jensen for HCDE Position 7 At Large, have also officially filed, and Ann Harris Bennett, who will run for County Clerk, sent out an email announcing that she will file on December 7. All incumbent Democratic State Reps except for Harold Dutton have filed so far. Finally, we have our first two legislative challengers, as an Alison Ruff has filed for HD134 and a John Gay filed for the open HD129. I had been aware of another person looking at the HD134 race, though she has since decided against it, but Ms. Ruff is a new name to me. Anyone out there know anything about her?

Endorsement watch: County courts

There are four County Civil Courts At Law and 15 County Criminal Courts At Law, with the Chron endorsements for all of them being spread over three days. Starting with the civil courts, the Democratic nominees received endorsements in two of the four races.

County Civil Court at Law No. 3: Damon Crenshaw, the Democratic challenger, would bring 25 years’ experience in small business litigation, representing individuals and corporations.

County Civil Court at Law No. 4: Bruce Mosier, the Democratic challenger, receives our endorsement for this bench, along with that of the Association of Women Attorneys and the Mexican-American Bar Association.

Here are the relevant Q&As:

Damon Crenshaw (note: from the primary)

Bruce Mosier

Erica Graham, Civil Court At Law #1

Cheryl Elliott Thornton, Civil Court At Law #2 (note: from the primary)

In Part One of the Criminal Courts At Law races, Dems took four of eight endorsements:

County Criminal Court No. 2: Democratic challenger Mary Connealy Acosta has 15 years’ experience as a criminal defense attorney and is intimately familiar with the operations of the Harris County criminal courts system.

County Criminal Court No. 3: Veteran Houston criminal defense attorney Judith Snively is the stronger candidate for this bench.

County Criminal Court No. 4: Democrat Alfred “Al” Leal was a county criminal court judge in Court 9 for 12 years.

County Criminal Court No. 6: Democratic challenger Denise Spencer, an experienced prosecutor in New York City and Fort Bend County, is our choice to bring change and new ideas to these misdemeanor courts.

And in Part 2, Dems took two of seven:

County Criminal Court No. 9: Democratic criminal defense attorney Juanita Jackson Barner is our choice to enforce the law while helping youthful offenders make positive lifestyle choices.

County Criminal Court No. 13: In a match-up between well qualified candidates, Democratic candidate Dennis Slate, a City of Houston and Pearland associate municipal judge, is our choice to fill this open bench.

For whatever the reason, I only got a handful of Q&A responses from this group of candidates:

Judith Snively

Al Leal

Juanita Jackson Barner

Mark Diaz, Criminal Court At Law #11

Cheryl Harris Diggs, Criminal Court At Law #12

Dennis Slate (note: from the primary, but an updated Q&A from him is in the queue for next week)

Toni Martinez Ingverson, Criminal Court At Law #15

All Democratic candidates are listed here. Q&As for Republican candidates are here.

Judicial Q&A: Judith Snively

(Note: I am running a series of Q&As for Democratic judicial candidates on the November ballot. I am running these responses in the order that I receive them from the candidates. These Q&As are primarily intended for candidates who were not in contested primaries. You can see those earlier Q&As, as well as all the ones in this series and all my recorded interviews for this cycle, on my 2010 Elections page.)

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

My name is Judith Snively and I am running for Harris County Criminal Court at Law Number 3.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

This Court hears Class A and B Criminal Misdemeanor cases with a maximum punishment range of up to one year in the Harris County Jail and/or up to a $4,000 fine.

A majority of the cases heard in these courts are DWI’s, Assaults, Possession of Marijuana and Thefts.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

I have over twenty years experience handling the cases that come before this type of bench. I have worked in all of the 15 misdemeanor courts and believe that I have been able to evaluate practices in each court that can be adapted or modified to create a more fair and efficient court system in Harris County.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

I have been active as a Criminal Defense Attorney in the criminal court system in Harris County continuously for over twenty years. I have courtroom experience in the Criminal Courts having handled thousands of individual clients. I believe that my experience in the courtroom has given me full exposure to the workings of this type of court. My experience with legal issues in Immigration, Family, Juvenile and Probate Law also lend to a better understanding of many issues that may overlap in the Criminal Courts. Aside from my legal experience I have lived in other countries and speak Spanish. I believe my life experience gives me the perspective to prepare me for the diverse makeup of the individuals which appear before the Harris County Misdemeanor Courts

5. Why is this race important?

As Harris County continues to grow and attract individuals from all parts of the world we need judges that will listen and treat everyone with respect and dignity. I understand from my representation of various clients that a Judge needs to look at every aspect of the case from probable cause to bonding issues to punishment. Each case and Defendant is unique.

6. Why should people vote for you in November?

I believe I can help to implement policies which will not only save tax payer money by granting more pre-trial bonds for qualified individuals, and freeing up the overcrowded jails, but also look at the full range of punishment and not just follow the District Attorney’s guidelines. I would work closely with the Harris County Probation Department to get an understanding of why so many probationers are not able to comply with present conditions of probation and strive to work with them before they are revoked. I vow to follow the Constitution for everyone that enters the courtroom.

For Judith Snively

One other thing that came out of that Chron story on Dave Wilson was this nugget about a different Democratic primary.

[Harris County Democratic Party Chair Gerry] Birnberg said he also asked two state agencies whether he could prevent lawyer Lloyd Oliver from running as a Democratic candidate for judge. Oliver is under indictment for illegal solicitation of clients by a lawyer. He is running for judge of Harris County Criminal Court No. 3, the bench vacated by Republican Judge Don Jackson, who was convicted last month of a misdemeanor charge of official oppression. Lawyer Judith Snively also has filed for the Democratic nomination.

Having been informed by the secretary of state’s office and the Commission on Judicial Conduct that the indictment did not disqualify Oliver’s candidacy, Birnberg said he will seek a resolution from the county party’s executive committee authorizing him to inform voters of Oliver’s “criminal circumstances.”

That executive committee meeting is tomorrow night, and as a precinct chair I will be there and will vote for that resolution. But as a blogger, I don’t need to wait till then. I hereby formally endorse Judith Snively, whose Q&A is here, in this primary for judge of Harris County Criminal Court #3. Lloyd Oliver also ran in 2008, losing that primary to now-Judge Ruben Guerrero. At that time, I can recall meeting nearly every other judicial candidate that was in a contested primary, but not Oliver. If you’re a Democrat, please vote for Judith Snively in this race. We couldn’t do anything about Dave Wilson, but we can make sure he’s the only bad apple in the bunch.

On a related note, the Coalition of Harris County Democratic Elected Officials put out a press release about the many judicial primaries.

Because so many candidates were inclined to seek the Democratic nomination for dozens of judgeships in 2010, elected leaders created a process for screening and recommending candidates to help insure that the quality and diversity of those nominated bring strength to the Democratic Party.

Membership in the Coalition is limited to non-judicial Democratic elected officials who represent Harris County voters. The roles of several offices held by Democrats, such as the Harris County District Clerk which serves all District judges, and the Office of County Attorney, representing all County officials and departments, makes their participation problematic; however most non-judicial Democratic leaders are participating.

Very careful screening of judicial candidates by panels of elected officials has taken place over several months, with final decisions made after filing deadline had passed.

You can see their list of endorsees here. I will update the 2010 Elections page to indicate who received these endorsements. Obviously, no single endorsement is a be-all and end-all, and it will be interesting to see what recommendations some other groups, like the HGLBT Political Caucus, make. But consider this a first step to help you make some of these decisions.

Judge Jackson resigns

Harris County Criminal Court At Law Judge Donald Jackson, who was recently convicted of misdemeanor official oppression, has resigned his bench, effective Thursday. Given his conviction, I’d say this counts as no surprise. Jackson was one of many judges up for re-election in 2010, and he had accumulated three primary opponents in addition to Democratic challengers, so the question is who will be appointed to finish out his term. I assume that since this is a county court and not a district court that the responsibility for that falls on Commissioners Court. I wonder if they’ll want to wait till the Republicans have chosen a nominee, which could be as late as April if there’s a runoff, or if they’ll seek out someone who will simply serve out Jackson’s term and won’t run for another.

Judicial Q&A: Judith Snively

(Note: I am running a series of Q&As for judicial candidates in contested Democratic primaries. There are a lot of judicial races on the ballot in Harris County this election, and so 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. I will also be conducting some in-person interviews of candidates who will be involved in contested primaries for non-judicial offices. Please see the 2010 Election page listed at the top of the blog for a full list of Q&As and interviews.)

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

JUDITH SNIVELY – Harris County Criminal Court at Law #3

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

Misdemeanors with maximum of one year sentences. These include DWI’s. Thefts, Assaults, Burglary of Motor Vehicle, Harassment, Criminal Trespass, Evading Detention, and Crminal Mischief.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

The Democratic Party placed me as a candidate for that bench.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

I have been practicing criminal law since 1987. I have represented thousands of clients. I speak Spanish.

5. Why is this race important?

We need to make changes in the Harris County in regard to policies in Court. We need to make courts more accessible throughout the day.

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

My opponent Lloyd Oliver has run as a Republican in the past for statewide offiice and is currently under indictment in a felony court. I am a Democrat and have been one my entire voting history. I bring those values to the bench. Mr. Oliver is not recognized by the Democratic Party as a serious candidate nor part of the Democratic coordinated campaign.