Answers Submitted by Jody Johnson, Candidate for 380th District Court
Candidate Name: Jody Johnson
Position Running For: Judge of the 380th District Court
City of Residence: Plano
1. What makes you the most qualified candidate?
I have the most experience and am the only candidate who has achieved a high degree of excellence as a lawyer as evidenced by my numerous peer review ratings. (See www.jodyforjudge.com for listing). I am the only candidate who is endorsed by former judges and a substantial number of attorneys. I graduated from the SMU Dedman School of Law in 1983 and have been in private practice 28+ years. I started at a civil litigation firm where I worked on cases in both state and federal court. I became Board Certified in Family Law in 1988. I have handled all kinds of complex family law cases, including complex issues related to children, and everything from pro bono cases to multimillion dollar property issues. I understand what it is like for citizens who are appearing in court: their need for the judge to hear them, fairly consider their case, and apply the law correctly. I am the only candidate with the highest rating possible from the legal community for ethics and legal ability (“AV Preeminent” – see: http://www.martindale.com/Products_and_Services/Peer_Review_Ratings.aspx
I have devoted my career to achieving excellence and I will continue that as a judge in service to Collin County.
2a. What are 1-3 issues the courts must prepare for as Collin County continues to grow in population?
The #1 issue is that there is an insufficient number of courts to meet the demands of the population and that will continue.
There will also continue to be an increase in the number of litigants who are dealing with drug and alcohol abuse issues and mental health issues.
2b). What plans do you have to address these issues?
Number of Courts:
The Judges do not have the authority to increase the number of courts, and there are no specific plans at this time to add additional courts in the future.
I support continued efforts to obtain grants that will fund additional specialized courts such as drug courts and Veterans courts, as well as grants to hire judges to help hear child abuse cases so those can continue to be a top priority.
I also support continuing to move to more specialized courts. All juvenile cases are heard by our judge who is board certified in juvenile law, we have a specialized drug court, and will have a specialized Veterans Court. All large counties in the state have specialized courts. Collin County is the largest county without specialized courts. The benefits to the citizens are that their judges will be able to be highly competent in one area (e.g. criminal, civil or family). Judges will be able to rule on matters more efficiently, because they will not have to do as much research on legal matters they are not as proficient at. Additionally, judges would not have to be away from their job to attend as much continuing education. Under the current system, judges should ideally attend courses in civil, criminal and family law every year.
These issues particularly impact litigants (and their children) in family law and criminal cases. They impact the county because theses people continue to recycle through the legal system. They take up jail time and court time every time they re-offend. They take up court time and taxpayer resources when children are abused and neglected as a result of these behaviors. They take up court time when parents repeatedly return to court because of custody/visitation issues resulting from their behavior. These issues correlate with increased incidents of family violence. Research shows that drug courts and mental health courts work. Research also shows that mental health intervention in family law cases works. I support these and will look for ways to utilize these options.
3. Why do you want to have this position?
It has been a privilege to be a lawyer and serve so many clients. We are blessed to live in a country that has an open court system that values due process of law. I have had a long and successful legal career and now, at age 54, I would like to serve my community. I want our citizens to know that they can trust their judiciary, that their judges will be of the highest caliber, will be impartial, listen to their cases, keep up with the law and apply it, and will be free from outside influence. Faith in our judicial system is imperative, and the citizens of Collin County deserve the best.
4. How long have you been working in the legal arena?
I have been a licensed attorney for over 28 years and have worked as an attorney continously during that time. Prior to that I worked in college at a large law firm, interned one summer with Legal Aid in Minnesota, and I clerked at a law firm my last two years of law school.
I have tried cases in state and federal court, and have handled a variety of civil cases and family law cases. I also am asked to write papers and speak at continuing education courses for attorneys in Texas and as far away as Canada.
5. What do you want citizens to know about before voting for a judge?
Experience, a demonstrated level of excellence, and maturity of judgment matter. Over 50% of the cases filed in the district courts are family law cases; however, we do not have a sitting judge who is an expert in family law and this is a critical need. Lawyers and judges are in the best position to evaluate who is most qualified to serve as a judge. Current judges are not allowed to endorse candidates; however, if you look at the endorsements for the candidates in this race I have the most endorsements from the legal community and am the only candidate at this time with endorsements from former judges. I am also the only candidate who has received peer review ratings from the legal community and I have received these numerous times (e.g., Top 50 Women Lawyers in Texas, Best Lawyers in America, “AV Preeminent” rating; please go to my website to see a complete list. www.jodyforjudge.com. Talk to lawyers in the community to get information. I have worked extremely hard to achieve a high level of excellence and I will continue that as your next Judge.