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These are our civil district court picks

October 13, 2018

Most voters don’t know the candidates in the judicial races and that can be problematic if party affiliation is the only criteria used in determining who gets a vote.

Judges with a strong work ethic and a deep understanding of the law are important for the smooth and efficient operation of a civil ourt system. In Bexar County, teamwork is equally important because of the use of a civil presiding system that doles out cases based on who is available instead of permanently assigning a case to a specific judge. That means no case languishes unattended if there is a slacker judge, but it often leaves the hardworking judges having to fill in for colleagues who have work ethic issues.

Divorce, child custody, personal injury and contract disputes are some of the cases that go before a civil district court judge. There were more than close to 50,000 civil and family court pending in Bexar County at the end of fiscal year 2017. During that same year, the courts disposed of just over 44,000 civil and family cases and seated 81 juries.

Three incumbent civil district court judges are facing challengers in November, a fourth contested civil court seat on the ballot was left open by the planned retirement of 288th District Court Judge Sol Casseb at the end of the year.

In the 45th District Court race, we recommend the re-election of Republican Stephani Walsh to a second term. A former nurse, Walsh has more than 30 years of legal experience and is board certified in family law, which comprises a large portion of the cases brought to civil court. Her training in mediation is an asset to the court. The opponent in this race is Mary Lou Alvarez who has 15 years legal experience and earned an industrial engineering degree from Stanford University before coming into law. There is simply no need for change in this court.

In 150th District Court race, we recommend Republican Renée Yanta to a second term. Yanta has 24 years of legal experience, seven of them on the bench. She was appointed to the 73rd District Court bench in 2009 to serve an unexpired term. Yanta is board certified in civil appellate law and teaches law courses. A former public school teacher who spent nine years in the classroom, Yanta created a successful therapeutic court program to help prepare teen girls for life after foster care.

Her opponent is Democrat Monique Diaz who has legal ten years experience. We find her legal tactics in an attempt to have two misdemeanor cases expunged before she filed for office more worrisome than the charges against her. According to court records, Diaz entered a plea of no contest, was given deferred adjudication and nine months probation in 2012 on charges of resisting arrest and interfering with the duties of a police officer.

In the 185th District Court race, we recommend Richard Price to a third term on this bench. He previously served for 15 months as judge for the 408th District Court, which he was appointed to in September 2005. Price has earned a reputation as a hardworking judge with good judicial temperament and who knows the law. Price has 29 years of legal experience, extensive jury trial experience as a judge and brings extensive mediation training to the courtroom. His opponent Aaron Haas has ten years experience and is board certified in immigration. State courts do not generally handle immigration cases.

For the open 288th District bench, we recommend Republican Clint Lawson who is board certified in family law and mediation. Lawson has a master of business administration degree from the University of Houston and was employed by Union Carbide Industrial Gases for 16 years before going into law. A former president of the San Antonio Family Lawyers Association. Lawson has a diverse background that would be a benefit to this civil court.

The Democrat challenger in this race is Cynthia Marie Chapa, who has 12 years legal experience. Lawson simply has the better legal experience.

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