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Who's running for 148th District Court Judge?

Texas' 148th District Court is located in Nueces County under presiding Judge Guy Williams, who is not running for re-election in the midterms.

Republican candidate Bill Kelly faces Democratic candidate Carlos Valdez in the Nov. 6 midterm elections.

The following questions were posed by the League of Women Voters board and submitted by candidates via Vote411.org. Candidate responses are reprinted verbatim and are not edited.

Bill Kelly, Republican

Describe your legal experience for the the type of judicial position you seek, including how many jury trials you've tried as lead counsel.

The 148th District Court is a court of general jurisdiction. It hears family law, civil law and felony criminal law cases. In my career I have been a civil defense/ family lawyer, I have tried jury and bench trials where custody of children and millions of dollars have been in dispute. I am board certified in family law which required me to earn the recommendation of the judges and lawyers I worked with and the pass a day long test. Recently I have been a mediator and an arbitrator which allowed me to resolve disputes which is better preparation for being a judge then advocating as a lawyer.

Using a scale of strongly disagree, disagree, neither agree nor disagree, agree, or strongly agree, please explain your answer to the statement, "This court's past efforts to reduce repeat incarcerations (recidivism) have been successful."

Agree. The 148th Court was the Veteran's Court. When a veteran was arrested the case could be diverted to the 148th where instead of going through the normal criminal proceedings the veteran would be put through an intense process which took into consideration the unique issues and challenges a veteran faces. The veterans that completed this difficult program have a much lower recidivism rate then those defendants who go through the regular criminal justice system.

Using a scale of strongly disagree, disagree, neither agree nor disagree, agree, or strongly agree, please explain your answer to the statement, "The Nueces County Pre-Trial Assessment Initiative has been a success."

Agree. Nueces County has been a leader in this initiative. Before this initiative many non violent defendants who were not a flight risk were being held in jail awaiting trial because they could not make bail. In America an individual is presumed innocent until proven guilty yet these individuals lives were disrupted, jobs were lost families damaged, all at great cost to the tax payers who paid to keep them in jail. Now we are looking at criminal histories, if it is a violent offense and other factors instead of standard bond amounts that often kept defendants in jail for small unpaid bail amounts

What will you do to ensure that all parties involved in cases before the court will have an opportunity to have their interests adequately represented and considered?

This question focuses on work ethic and personality. I have spent my career developing a strong understanding of the legal principles and statutes that would be applied in this court. I have already attended the Advanced Criminal Law seminar to address an area where I have less experience. As a mediator I have to resolve disputes by getting people to agree, which does not happen if they feel they haven't been heard. I have developed the patience and listening skills necessary to make sure parties are heard. I believe these skills will translate well to the bench.

Carlos Valdez, Democrat

Describe your legal experience for the the type of judicial position you seek, including how many jury trials you've tried as lead counsel.

I have served as County Attorney. District Attorney, and City Attorney. I've been appointed as special master in mental commitment cases on several occasions. I have extensive and well documented trial experience. I have personally tried some of the most important and highly publicized cases (both civil and criminal) in the history of this county. The 148th District Court is a trial court and there is no other candidate for judicial office that has the breadth of trial experience that I have. I have experience in all facets of the law and have dealt with most of the issues in this court.

Using a scale of strongly disagree, disagree, neither agree nor disagree, agree, or strongly agree, please explain your answer to the statement, "This court's past efforts to reduce repeat incarcerations (recidivism) have been successful."

Neither agree nor disagree. Rate of recidivism can best be addressed by the social science programs and corrective measures administered by and through a community supervision (probation) department. A properly functioning community supervision department working in conjunction with, and overseen by, a trial court is the most effective way to reduce the rate of recidivism in this county. I will work very closely with our community supervision department, in appropriate cases, to track these cases and to do everything possible to reduce the rate of recidivism in this county.

Using a scale of strongly disagree, disagree, neither agree nor disagree, agree, or strongly agree, please explain your answer to the statement, "The Nueces County Pre-Trial Assessment Initiative has been a success."

Neither agree nor disagree. The initiative has not been in use for a long enough period of time to be able to make a proper assessment of its effectiveness. Programs like this should be assessed over a long period of time and compared to historical numbers in order to determine true effectiveness. I have always believed in being innovative and trying new methods to address some of the pressing problems that our courts must deal with on a daily basis. But we should also assure that the methods we employ are allowed the time necessary to determine their effectiveness.

What will you do to ensure that all parties involved in cases before the court will have an opportunity to have their interests adequately represented and considered?

I will be patient, dignified and courteous to litigants, jurors, witnesses, lawyers and others with whom I deal with in an official capacity as a judge. I will require similar conduct of my staff or other court officials subject to my direction and control. I will accord every person who has a legal interest in a proceeding, or the person's lawyer, the right and opportunity to be heard according to the law. I will be faithful to the law and shall always strive to maintain professional competence in it. I will always strive to resolve matters with decorum and in a orderly manner.

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