Monday, March 28, 2016

Justice Matters

   The dockets in Harris County have exploded with the burgeoning population, and the last criminal district court in Harris County was created in 1985.  I have advocated for the creation of additional courts, and also for the addition of court magistrates to hear uncontested pleas and other administrative matters in order that the elected judges can spend more time trying and disposing of contested cases.  As judge of the 337th Criminal District Court, I spent long hours on the bench whenever necessary to keep the docket as current as possible.   
   Jail overcrowding is a serious and dangerous problem.  Accordingly, I would give diligent participation credit to state jail prisoners who do not earn good conduct time for time served.  When  Judge of the 337th Criminal District Court, I told defendants at sentencing that I would award maximum diligent participation credit for diligent participation in programs such as work, education, and/or treatment.  My rationale was that this would (1) save taxpayer money since less jail space would required; (2) encourage defendants to better themselves through education and treatment for substance abuse; (3) discourage inmate fighting and abuse toward jailers, lest the time credit for diligent participation be lost.
  Jail and prison space must be adequate for violent offenders.  As judge, I would try to  rehabilitate non-violent and substance abuse offenders in appropriate cases.  I had at one point in time time, to the best of my knowledge,  more defendants on probation and deferred adjudication than any other criminal district judge in Harris County.  Thus jail space was saved for violent offenders who were a danger to the community. 
   Effective representation of indigent defendants is a great concern, and I used the Harris County Public Defenders Office as much as possible.  This would ensure that by and large the same resources would be available to the defense of the indigent as there would be for the prosecution. There needs to be a level playing field for justice to prevail.