Monday Night Politics: Meet the Candidates features candidates for County Court at Law, Judge Criminal Court, Texas State Board of Education, Democratic Party Chair and U.S. Congress
DENISHA McKNIGHT | 2/26/2018, 4:58 p.m.
TAPSCOTT: Yes, people who typically represent themselves are at a disadvantage, especially at a jury trial they’ll end up losing. As a trial to the bench I still have the ability to hear what they say and if the facts and the law is on their side then they win, even if they don’t have a lawyer. What I also do to the extent that I can do – because you all know it is an adversarial system – I can’t coach someone to teach them how to beat the other side [but] legal clips are allowed to operate in the courthouse … I actually put the notices on the outside of my courtroom so they can go get free legal help when they come and litigate the case to me.
ROSALES: There is a [clause] called innovative core practices or procedural justice and as a community judge I’ve had a chance to implement them. What that means is any time an individual comes before you, you are giving them a voice and explaining to them what the process is and why they are where they are. Also there is a helpfulness component about procedural justice. If fortunate enough to be elected as your [judge], I will be bringing a program called the responsible citizen docket for those creditor lawsuits against individuals who do not have attorneys. I’m going to be dividing the area’s law schools and the experiential programs that are existing. I’ve worked with them. I know I can make that happen.
Q: How many times have you advocated/spoke out in a civil jury trial?
ROSALES: When you try a case the exercise of trying a case is going to be the same whether you try in a civil court or a criminal court. You are researching the evidence and the law, preparing the witnesses, preparing for the attacking of the other party and the rules of evidences you are going to assert to ensure that your evidence is admitted into trial. As a judge, I have tried a handful of civil cases. As an admissible court judge, we do have criminal jurisdiction and civil jurisdiction. As an advocate, I have not had a chance to try a case in the civil sector but I am working to build one of the nation’s best personal injury and medical law practice attorneys. Hopefully by the time I am fortunate enough to be elected and sworn in as judge in 2019 I will have a chance to practice at the federal and county district courts.
TAPSCOTT: I’m going to be absolutely respectful of everyone in this room. I know you all have done that for me and I’m going to do the same thing for Ms. Rosales. But when she just stood up a moment ago and tried to tell you to ‘just forget about it. I have not presided over a civil jury trial,’ this is a civil court that she is running for. This is a big deal. I have been a judge now for almost 12 years. For the last 21 years of my life, I have only practiced in civil law. I would not be qualified to run for criminal court in this county. You all would laugh me out of this room. I would not be qualified to run for a family court or probate court, because I don’t practice in those areas of the law. This is a big deal where our job is to send the most qualified and experienced people we can possibly put in position of power to administer the justice system. You don’t run for a bench you don’t qualify for.