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Courier: Robin’s judicial experience, certification make her best fit for 410th court bench

Courier: Robin’s judicial experience, certification make her best fit for 410th court bench - Your Houston News: Opinion
Courier: Robin’s judicial experience, certification make her best fit for 410th court bench
Posted: Monday, February 29, 2016 6:30 pm

For the first time in the history of the 410th state District Court, K. Michael Mayes will not be the sitting judge – at least starting in 2017.

Mayes, who has served as judge of the general jurisdiction court since its creation in 1997, announced his retirement in late October.

Three candidates are vying to replace him in the March 1 Republican primary: Kristin Bays, Chuck Meyer and Jennifer Robin.

The Courier editorial board was fortunate to meet with the three talented attorneys to learn about their qualifications and plans for the court as well as Montgomery County’s judicial system as a whole. All three equally impressed in terms of their knowledge and demeanor.

However, Robin’s proven judicial record, board certification and legal experience make her the best fit for the duties of the 410th state District Court moving forward. The Courier is endorsing Judge Jennifer Robin for 410th judge in the Republican primary.

Robin has been associate judge of the 418th state District Court the past five years, presiding over jury and bench trials in the family law court. Prior to that, she was in private practice for 10 years as a litigator and mediator. She earned her Juris Doctor degree from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio. She also is a lecturer for continuing legal education courses and is board certified in family law.

Key issues in this race were the court’s caseload and docket, specialization of the court and how it would be best situated to help alleviate jail overcrowding.

Robin is a proponent of court specialization, while Bays and Meyer oppose it.

Currently, the 410th handles 11 percent of the district courts’ felony cases, 29 percent of civil cases over $200,000, 17 percent of civil cases under $200,000 and around 30 percent of the county’s family law cases.

However, Nate Jensen, director of Court Administration, confirmed that he would be recommending that the 410th caseload be split between family and civil cases.

Currently, the 9th, 221st, 359th and 435th courts each handle 22 percent of the felony cases, and all would continue to be solely criminal courts moving forward, under the Office of Court Administration’s recommendation.

Jensen said this specialization has helped curb the overcrowding at the jail, bringing its population from around 90 percent capacity in 2013 when only the 9th and 221st were specialized in criminal law back down to a manageable 74 percent.

“I’m ready to handle whatever the administrative judge or Board of Judges thinks is best,” said Robin, who announced her candidacy even before Mayes confirmed his retirement plans. “At the same time, you can’t ignore what specialization has done.”

While Bays did not get our endorsement, her credentials are nearly as impressive.

Bays has been in private practice with her husband since 1997 and a practicing attorney since 1993, handling civil, probate and appellate cases, among others. She earned her law degree from Baylor University.

Bays believes the system wastes more than $12 million a year due to court delays and would prioritize criminal cases (“those sitting in the jail”) over civil and family cases.
Bays believes she has the “broadest breadth” of experience.

Meyer also has shown the temperament to be an effective judge. He is a 27-year licensed attorney, including as a chief legal officer for Blackberry, assistant district attorney in Hardin County and as a patent attorney. He earned his J.D. from American University.

If elected, Meyer wants to handle civil cases, helping offload cases from the 284th and County Court-at-Law 2.

“I’m the only candidate that has the breadth and depth,” he said.

But it is Robin who possesses the complete package to run the 410th as effectively as possible. We believe the organizational skills, determination and conservative values of this Conroe product and former CHS Golden Girl only add to her impressive judicial and legal credentials. The Courier endorses Judge Jennifer Robin for 410th state District Court judge in the March 1 primary.

Courier endorsements for the March 1 primary:

• 8th Congressional District: Kevin Brady
• County attorney: J D Lambright
• Montgomery County sheriff: Rand Henderson
• 9th state District Court Judge: Phil Grant
• 410th state District Court Judge: Jennifer Robin
• 435th state District Court judge: Patty Maginnis
• Justice, Supreme Court, Place 3: Debra Lehrmann
• Justice, Supreme Court, Place 5: Paul Green
• Justice, Supreme Court, Place 9: Eva Guzman
• Precinct 1 constable: Phillip Cash, Kim Franklin, Rusty Fincher (runoff expected in the six-person race)
• Precinct 2 constable: Gene DeForest
• Precinct 4 constable: Kenneth “Rowdy” Hayden
• Precinct 5 Constable: David Hill

Pol. adv. paid for by Jennifer Robin Campaign in compliance with the voluntary limits of the Judicial Campaign Fairness Act.
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