My opponent misrepresents the facts surrounding this court's criminal caseload. It is true that we see far fewer criminal cases than JP 3. However, JP 1 and JP 2 have similar caseloads to this court. In fact, if you add the number of cases for JP 1, 2 and 4, they do not equal JP 3 case numbers. Also, this is nothing new. This disparity in caseload predates me. Judge Gravell, who is one of Ms. Redden's supporters in this race, complained about it when he was Judge at JP 3. There is no truth to the accusation that law enforcement has no trust in this court and chooses to file cases in JP 3 to avoid "arbitrary dismissals". The reason JP 3 has a caseload so much larger than the other Justice courts is simple. Number one, the demographics and traffic patterns vary. Pct 4 has a minimal traffic pattern with only 2 highways. Number 2 is convenience. Since the Sherriff's Office is in Georgetown and JP 3 is in Georgetown, it's just easier to select that court on the off chance that the officer will have to be present for a trial. That's it. Nothing nefarious. Nothing personal. Just plain convenience.
I am a firm believer in human rights. As a former LGBTQ activist, I'm aware of the prejudice and legal hurdles this marginalized group faces. In a Justice Court, however, these concerns simply don't appear. I don't hear cases of discrimination. The sexual orientation of anyone before me as a Judge is not something with which I concern myself and have no bearing on the types of cases I hear. In regards to gender identity, I support the use of preferred pronouns and names but cannot change legal records to reflect changes not supported by documentation. Again, this is something outside of my jurisdiction. My goal is to treat those before me as human beings first, regardless of orientation, gender, or any other social identity.
I'm committed to prioritizing education for our youth. I believe that our society benefits when everyone has a strong, shared foundation in the basics needed to be successful. I encourage youth that appear before me to take their education seriously. Staying in school, being on time, and not skipping classes is practice for entering the workforce. When I get the opportunity to speak to parents, I make this same case. Make sure your children understand the importance of education. Without a high school diploma, their opportunities are severely limited. We try to find available resources to assist both parents and students in this endeavor.
I've written about this topic before, but if I am reelected I intend to work with my state representatives and other stakeholders to address this portion of the property code. As it is currently written, a tenant must make multiple requests in writing to the landlord asking for repairs, then involve the county health district or similar agency to inspect the property and find it does not meet health and safety standards. Then and only then may a tenant file a repair and remedy case with the court. Once this is done, they may then withhold no more than $500 in rent. Not only is this process cumbersome, but it's also virtually unknown to tenants. All too often, I see tenants who have withheld rent to incentivize their landlord to make the needed repairs only to have an eviction filed against them. Once they've had an eviction filed against them for failure to pay rent, there is nothing I can do for them. The law says they are in breach of contract and the landlord has the right to evict. This law portion of the property code needs to be updated and streamlined. I believe all landlords should also be required to inform tenants of their rights.