Find out where Chris stands on some of the important issues facing the Harris County Criminal Justice System:

DOCKETS:

As counties go, Harris County is massive—the third most populous in the nation at 4.59 million people.  Only 22 felony district courts serve this population, resulting in enormous dockets for each of those courts.  The Court I am running for currently has only one day each week where every person on bond appears for docket, leaving that day incredibly chaotic and the Court dead for the rest of the week.  If the Court is not in trial, that’s wasted time.  We have to find creative ways to deal with the size of our dockets, and that includes having judges work every day, and for the entire day.   That also means expanding the number of dockets each week, and implementing morning and afternoon dockets.

TRIALS: 

It is important to have judges who are willing to have cases go to trial.  The choice of trial belongs to the defendant and prosecution – not to the judge.   Judges who avoid trial because it is time intensive are not doing their job.   The judge should have the mindset that every case could go to trial, and they have to be willing to be available for that.  

 

BONDS: 

Personal Recognizance (“PR”) bonds need to be considered in felony courts.   Where there is no history of violence and the defendant is charged with a non-violent crime, there is little reason to have someone sit in jail simply because they can’t afford a bond.  I believe that the only reason judges still require money bonds in such felony cases (and until very recently in misdemeanor cases) is that bondsmen contribute heavily to judicial re-election campaigns.   As a candidate, I will not accept campaign donations from bondsmen.    

 

MENTAL HEALTH & ADDICTION ISSUES: 

Judges should be alert and cognizant to mental health and addiction issues. Often drug cases involve people with mental health issues who are self-medicating.   Judges need to seek ways to help people with addiction and mental health issues by keeping them out of jail and in treatment.  There are state funded programs that can help with this.  Addiction and mental health issues needs to be addressed, not punished. 

 

VETERANS’ ISSUES: 

People who have served our country in uniform have special issues and deserve special attention.  Many of our veterans come home suffering from PTSD or other mental health issues as a result of their military service.  Our judges need to be cognizant of those issues and proactive in working with veterans to obtain additional support through referrals to Veteran’s Court.   As a prosecutor, I volunteered my time working in Veteran’s Court and can attest to the positive outcomes there.   Unfortunately many of our current judges don’t take full advantage of the Veteran’s Court and instead choose to keep veterans in their own courts and instead deal with them as they would any other defendant.  As a former military serviceman, I promise to fully utilize Veteran’s Court. 

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