I’ve been asked several times what my priorities will be as our next Justice of the Peace (JP). My top three priorities are (1) to ensure everyone receives a fair and speedy trial, (2) managing the growing workload at the JP’s office as efficiently as possible, and (3) connecting with the youth of our community through outreach programs.
Fair and Speedy Trial
Everyone is entitled to equal treatment under the law. As your JP I will make sure everyone is treated fairly in Justice Court. Before reaching a decision, I will carefully consider the facts and circumstances of each case. While each case must be decided on its individual merits, it is important that people in similar situations receive similar outcomes from the court. In my opinion, it is the obligation of every judge to make sure that “equal justice for all” is a reality, not just an expression. As your JP, I will make sure this is the everyday reality. It is also important that cases move through the system and get to trial or settle as quickly and smoothly as possible. As discussed in the next point, I have experience streamlining legal processes to improve efficiency.
Our community is growing at an incredibly fast rate. I’ve heard that 15,000 people moved to Hays County last year and that the Dripping Springs area is now the fastest growing area of Hays County. This dramatic growth will have a corresponding impact on the workload of the JP’s office. In a time when taxes are high and government spending is, or should be carefully scrutinized, I will increase the efficiency of the JP’s office to keep up the increasing workload with the current staffing levels.
As part of my career, I have spent decades managing personnel and improving processes within the government, academia/research, and in the corporate world. Most recently, I was the Senior Director of Legal Operations for a 10,000 employee global company for several years. One of my duties was to implement Process Improvement in the 125 employee Legal Department. Using proven Process Improvement techniques like LEAN for Office, Six Sigma, and 5S, my team analyzed and streamlined workflows in the Legal Department to increase efficiency and the decrease error rate. I believe my Process Improvement experience with legal workflows will allow the JP’s office to effectively and efficiently handle a greater workload without an increase in staffing. We all want lower taxes and to eliminate government waste, by bringing Process Improvement to the JP’s office, I’ll do just that.
Connecting with Young People
The saying that today’s youth are the future of our country is very true. Over the years, I’ve seen many lives go off the track and head in the wrong direction. In the majority of cases, I believe early positive guidance and encouragement dramatically increase the chances the young person will straighten things out and become a productive member of society. Without such intervention, the situation often deteriorates and the person becomes a repeat offender. As a mentor at the Hays County Veterans Treatment Court and also at the Burke Center, I see firsthand the benefits positive intervention can have on lives that have gone off track for one reason or another.
I believe it is very important for the JP’s office to connect with the local schools and youth organizations. Through collaborative efforts, I want to proactively create programs that give our young people the chance to see our legal system and law enforcement in a positive light. By connecting with our schools and youth organizations, visiting campuses to meet with students and addressing organizations like the PTA, I think the JP’s office will have a positive impact on our youth and our community.
I hope to reinforce the idea that each of us is responsible for our actions and must be accountable for the choices we make. Bad choices generally lead to negative results, but one bad choice doesn’t need to lead to a series of bad choices and a downward spiral. There are numerous resources in our community and the State of Texas to help address many of the problems our young people face. We need to make sure that those who need these resources get them. By connecting with the schools and youth organizations in our community today, we can help get lives back on track and keep others from going off-track. I firmly believe that the JP can make a difference. I will make every effort to be a difference maker, both inside the courtroom and out.