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This is the first in a series of interviews of those candidates who are running for elected office in Collin County, Texas. The information in this article is based on materials and interviews provided by the candidate. If you would like to be interviewed by Bill Baumbach, please email your request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jody Johnson, 53, met with me so that I could learn more about her and her candidacy. She has been married over ten years, has four step-sons and is a resident of Plano, Texas. She attends Christ Church Plano.
She graduated in 1983, Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Minnesota with a Journalism degree. She earned her law degree from SMU in 1983 and has been a licensed attorney in the State of Texas for 28 years. She is Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
Johnson has a reputation for representing clients from all walks of life, whether they are pro bono clients, regular citizens of Collin County, or professional athletes. She has handled complex civil litigation cases as well as criminal cases involving abduction of children, family violence, child sex abuse, failure to support children, and visitation with children.
She lists her strongest skills as the ability listen, giving litigants the opportunity to be heard, and looking for solutions within the boundaries of the law.
Johnson’s service to the community has been far reaching. She has represented many indigent clients pro bono. She has an adult sister who is mentally disabled which inspires her support of the Opportunity Partners Organization which helps the mentally challenged community obtain training and find jobs in the community. She is frequently appointed as an Amicus Attorney in family law cases to advise the court on what is in the best interests of the children involved in a family law conflict. She has been asked to serve as a visiting Associate Judge in Dallas County to hear and rule on Temporary Orders in Family law cases.
When asked about how she would run her court, Johnson states that over one-half of the cases filed in District Courts are family law cases. Family law cases touch the lives of mothers, fathers, and children. She has been committed to minimize damage to children, and will encourage the parties to work out agreements when that is possible. If an agreement cannot be arrived at, Jody will apply the laws fairly and consistently when making a decision.
She emphasizes that her role is not to legislate or prosecute from the bench. The legislature makes the laws. The District Attorney prosecutes the cases. The judges apply and enforce the laws. As a pioneer in the collaborative law movement in Texas (beginning in 1999), she strongly advocates using alternate dispute processes that give litigants more control over the outcomes of their cases and decreases the need for trials. Johnson is a frequent speaker regarding the collaborative law option and is a participant of a pro bono collaborative law project for those litigants who cannot afford this process.
When asked how her qualifications could restore integrity to the Collin County Courts, she cited her service on the State Bar of Texas District 6 Attorney Grievance board. She chaired the committee for 3 of her 6 years of service hearing evidence from litigants who filed lawyer complaints and attorneys and issuing rulings that determined whether a particular lawyer should be sanctioned or disbarred. In order to serve on this committee, she was required to demonstrate impeccable ethics and reputation and she will use these same qualities as a judge.
Moreover, she has the respect of her peers and the bench. As a Board Certified Attorney, she must have the recommendation of fellow attorneys and judges. She has been consistently selected, through peer recommendation, as a Texas Super Lawyer (including Top 100 attorneys in Dallas Fort Worth and Top 50 Women Attorneys in Texas) and many other accolades which are detailed in her biography at the link below.
Johnson is also the only attorney running for this bench who is "AV" rated by Martindale-Hubbell. This is an unsolicited peer review rating and is the highest rating issued. It means that Johnson has achieved a "Very High Ethical Standards rating" and the highest score for Legal Ability based on performance in the following 5 areas:
1. Legal Knowledge: Lawyer's familiarity with the laws governing his/her specific area of practice(s)
2. Analytical Capabilities: Lawyer's creativity in analyzing legal issues and applying technical knowledge
3. Judgment: lawyer's demonstration of the salient factors that drive the outcome of a given case or issue
4. Communication Ability: Lawyer's capability to communicate persuasively and credibly
5. Legal Experience: Lawyer's degree of experience in his/her specific area of practice(s).
If elected, Johnson hopes to be remembered as a fair and hardworking judge. She wants litigants and attorneys to know that she will apply the law as written and will be unbiased.
When asked why she is more qualified than the other candidates, she finds that although, other candidates do have some strengths, Johnson contends that she is the most qualified of all the candidates because
- has been licensed to practice law longer than the other candidates;
- has the most relevant attorney experience required for this bench;
- is the only candidate who has a Board Certification by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization;
- has the most litigation and trial experience;
- has made judgments as an associate judge and attorney grievance committee member;
- and has the respect and support of the legal community by virtue of her being consistently listed as a Texas Super Lawyer
For more information, please see http://www.facebook.com/?ref=tn_tnmn#!/jodyjohnsonforjudge or her biography http://www.baumbach.org/2012/JodyBio.pdf
This is not a game. We need an experienced adult on the bench. Jody has my support.
The other candidates need to practice longer, engage in other areas of the law, and submit themselves to Martindale Hubble peer reviews and then they are ready.
Getting tired of inexperienced one note attorneys thinking they need to be a judge around here. Jody is a refreshing change.
I have concerns about her ability to hear and decide criminal cases. I practice family law and criminal law. Not legislating from the bench is a "nice" safe position and the position ALL candiates take. There is no opportunity to legislate anything at this level - just make decisions that serve justice.
I support Ben Smith - he is a prosecutor but he has always been fair, kind and decent. He will be that way in family law cases as he has been as a prosecutor.
"The district courts are the trial courts of general jurisdiction of Texas.The geographical area served by each court is established by the Legislature, but each county must be served by at least one district court. In sparsely populated areas of the State, several counties may be served by a single district court, while an urban county may be served by many district courts.
District courts have original jurisdiction in all felony criminal cases, divorce cases, cases involving title to land, election contest cases, civil matters in which the amount in controversy (the amount of money or damages involved) is $200 or more, and any matters in which jurisdiction is not placed in another trial court. While most district courts try both criminal and civil cases, in the more densely populated counties the courts may specialize in civil, criminal, juvenile, or family law matters."
Being that Collin County has 780,000+ citizens, our District Courts may be specific jurisdiction courts. In short, if a District Court in Collin County has 60% of its docket comprised of divorces (i.e. Family Law) it is because the Judge chooses so. Most of those cases will settle outside the courtroom and be sent to the Auxillary Courtroom where a visiting Judge will handle the matter.
Collin County has 9 District Courts. Only 7 of those courts hear adult criminal cases. 1 District Court only hears juvenile matters. 1 court hears only civil/family law cases.
There is an average inmate population of 1,000+ inmates in the Collin County Jail. Some inmates wait up to 2 years to have their case heard before a jury in a District Court. The cost to taxpayers to house those inmates is +20 million dollars annually.
I agree with the information regarding case backlog. Collin County needs more courts. Everyone belives they need more courts except the Commissioner's Court.
Last year 808 Juvi cases added (all go to Wheless), 3979 Criminal added (spread out btwn all judges except Willis), 5012 Civil cases added & 8173 Family cases added.
Look at who is really qualified for this bench and pay attention to the real issues (BTW, Green supporters should note that NO Probate cases are filed in the Dist. Cts. as all are filed in Probate Court).
Collin County Texas VOTERS! Interesting article and VERY interesting comments from other readers! Be informed before you vote; make your vote matter. BTW - No Probate Cases are heard in the District Courts. Aside from other IMPORTANT reasons NOT TO VOTE FOR TERRI GREEN, 100% of Green's "real experience" (sic) is in probate court, under, so to speak, Judge Weldon Copeland, making her qualifications "lite" at best. Do voters actually care that Green was involved in TEEN COURT? It's like including, on your resume, the jobs from high school, or a degree you might get, from a college where you took a few classes...not REAL qualifications. I suspect Green can garner the "sorority girl" vote from the truly uninspired.
she holds grudges if she doesn't get her way. Green lacks the experience to fill this position and will never bring the respect needed for the courtroom. Go Jody! You've got it all.
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