The race to replace Don Jackson for Judge of County Court at Law # 3 has a larger number of potential candidates than most other races with four candidates vying for the position just from the Republican side. I only know two of the candidates personally. I hear nice things about a third one. And I have no idea why the fourth one is running other than the fact that she really really likes being judge.
Cary Hart is a former Harris County prosecutor and current defense attorney. Joe Licata is a former prosecutor out of Florida and a long-time defense attorney. Natalie Flemming is a former prosecutor who used to do some visiting judge stints on the County Court circuit. Sharolyn Wood is a former CIVIL court judge who lost her bench in 2008 and is apparently some sort of Republican darling (which really irritates me with Republicans).
The Sharolyn Wood principle is probably what bugs me the most out of these partisan judicial elections. According to Mark Bennett's article that I linked to above, she held a Civil Bench since 1985 and lost it in 2008. Upon losing, she cited some sort of idea that incumbent judges were entitled to their positions and people shouldn't run against them. That's pretty offensive in my opinion.
Nonetheless, former-Judge Wood is looking to reclaim a bench (any bench) and has decided to move over into the criminal arena to find one. That's not a good idea. I tried a murder case one time in front of a visitng civil court judge. It was disastrous. Luckily, I did end up winning the case, but the trial took forever because we kept having to go locate sitting criminal court judges to come explain things to the visiting civil judge. It is apples and oranges when it comes to civil and criminal law. If the Republican Party doesn't realize this and they are putting their support behind Wood, they are sending a message that they don't give a crap about qualifications anymore (NOTE: see also, The Lykos Principle).
My buddy, Joe Licata, is a guy that I've known since very early on in my career at the D.A.'s Office when I was assigned to County Court at Law # 10. Joe did a lot of work in that court, and he couldn't have been any nicer to deal with. He's been practicing law for over 30 years and was a prosecutor in Florida in the early '80s. He has been in Texas for a couple of decades now and handles the fugitive docket detail in Judge Ross' court. He certainly has the qualifications and demeanor to be a good judge.
I don't know Natalie Flemming at all, but the people that I've talked to who do know her have nothing but nice things to say about her. She has a website up on Facebook, but I haven't figured out how to link to it here without putting up my own personal Facebook stuff (which I don't necessarily want to share with ALL of you!) As I noted above, she's a former prosecutor (up until 1994) before leaving HCDA. Her Facebook webpage lists that she worked as a visiting county court judge (which one can do without ever having been elected to be a judge). Her website doesn't mention what she has been doing lately and it doesn't say whether or not she has ever done any defense work.
In this race, however, my support goes to Cary Hart.
Cary was a Misdemeanor Chief prosecutor when I first started at the office, and her husband, Brad, was my first chief when I started. She was a prosecutor at the Harris County D.A.'s Office for 11 years and worked in the Misdemeanor Division, Felony Division, Justice of the Peace Division, Child Abuse, Juvenile, Special Crimes' Major Fraud, and the Asset Forfeiture Division. Since leaving the Office, she has been in business for herself and is a successful defense attorney. In addition to her defense work, she also serves part-time as a municipal prosecutor with the City of Humble, where she focuses on the juvenile docket.
Cary has lengthy jury trial experience, and in addition to that, she has the right demeanor to be a judge. She is one of the most even-tempered and kind hearted people that I know. She takes her job duties extremely seriously and will devote herself to doing the right thing and making the right decisions if elected judge.