Monday Night Politics: The battle of the gavel

Diane Xavier | 2/17/2014, 10:16 a.m.
On Feb. 3, Monday Night Politics – Meet the Candidates featured the battle of the gavel as several candidates were ...
Candidates for Judge 265 of the Judicial District, Jennifer Bennett, William R. Barr and Anthony Eiland discuss their platform and answer questions from the audience during The Dallas Examiner’s Monday Night Politics – Meet the Candidates forum on Feb. 3 at the African American Museum at Fair Park. 411 Reality Radio

Eiland said if elected as judge, he will make sure he is punctual.

“I will arrive to work on time and get the docket done early so I can save taxpayers money,” he said. “I will also be fair. I’m going to make sure that those individuals that need to go to prison go to prison. I’m going to make sure that those individuals that need probation get probation and I’m also going to make sure that those individuals that need second chances get those second chances.”

Barr said what he brings to the court besides experience is the notion of responsibility.

“A judge is responsible to the community,” Barr said. “I was brought up by two coaches, my parents who were both physical education teachers and they both taught me that being fair, even if it was a hard thing to do is what you do. So I expect the court to be run fairly, I expect everybody to be given a chance and I expect people to seek rehabilitation. I used to be a teacher and have worked with students with all types of issues and I expect a judge to be somewhat of a teacher, that I’m there, rehabilitation, getting these people back in the community and back on their feet.”

Bennett said she has worked on both sides of the law field, as a prosecutor and defense attorney.

“As far as work ethic, you can ask anyone at the courthouse about my work ethic,” she said. “I’m the first one in there in the morning and the last in at night when the job needs to be done and I don’t have any problems working weekends. I’m the person that is a mentor for DISD students, I’m the person that is active in my community now and I will continue that. As a judge, you have to be a role model and you have to help other people and that is what I will do.”

The next chair featured the seat of Judicial District Judge 282 with incumbent Andy Chatham battling challenger Amber Givens.

Givens said she is running because she believes she has the moral obligation to do so.

“There was a man who sat in jail for over 138 days without a court date in this particular court,” Givens said. “Also, knowing that consistently for the last seven years, people’s constitutional rights have been violated and I’m running because I am qualified. I have been practicing law for seven years and I am at my third DA’s office. I have a real commitment to justice. I understand that it is my job not to seek convictions but to do justice and make sure that the right things happen. I’ve handled cases from juvenile to white collar crime, domestic violence, child abuse, drugs and I’ve tried cases from DWI to murder.”

Chatham spoke about why he should be re-elected to Court Number 282.

“When I took over this court in 2006, we were the 13th most expensive court in the building, we’ve got that number down to sixth, and in 2007 we got that down to fourth and in 2008, fifth and in 2009 fifth. I am a bottom line guy. Bottom lines are important. Over the past seven years we have averaged the third lowest number of people being in jail. My goal as a judge is to help our young kids. The 17-, 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds. The kids most at risk. I personally take 94 percent of all pleas and make sure they get probation and serve their probation. I’m there every day for them. If they have a problem when they are on probation, they come see me. Not the probation officer. I get with them on the phone and they talk with me. I have a personal relationship with them. They can trust me to do the right thing. If they go to a party and get high, I expect them to come tell me and I work with them. It’s not just about second chances, but sometimes it’s about third, fourth or fifth chances. People on probation need help. I help them keep their jobs, keep their apartments, and I am active and deeply involved in their cases.”