District Judge, 410th Judicial District
Jennifer James Robin
TPP makes no recommendation in this race
We have chosen not to make a recommendation in this race. There are good arguments to be made for each of their candidacies, and we encourage the voters to study the candidates, their vision for the court, and choose the candidate they think is best. All three claim to be conservatives who believe in the philosophy of judicial restraint.
JENNIFER JAMES ROBIN
Jennifer Robin is currently the appointed associate judge for the 418th District Court, the specialized family law court over which Judge Tracy Gilbert presides. In her role as an associate judge, Judge Robin assumes the duties and position of a judge without being the elected judge of the court. Prior to her work on the 418th District Court, she ran a private law practice and was also an associate attorney in her father Grady James’ law practice.
Judge Robin says that the reason she is running for office is because currently the court is not effectively fulfilling its duties. She says that policies and procedures of the court are causing inefficiencies. She believes that litigants and attorneys are often being deprived of the opportunity to be heard in the court of law. She also says that law enforcement needs a judge who will uphold the on-call policy to make herself available for the review of warrants in emergency situations. She says that the three biggest problems facing the court are:
- Efficiency. Judge Robin says that currently, the court has the lowest disposition rate for felony cases out of all the courts hearing felony matters. She says that this is because as a general jurisdiction court, the court only dedicates one week per month to felony trials. She says she would specialize the court into hearing only civil and family law cases.
- Fiscal Responsibility. Judge Robin says that she will work hard and hear full dockets so that the taxpayers money is not wasted.
- Trust. Judge Robin says that she wants to restore and maintain public trust in her court. She said she will remove the current policy that if a continuance is requested, the case is mandatorily continued for no less than a year. She said she would also give temporary orders hearings to family law matters and give all cases the opportunity to be heard.
Judge Robin says she is a judicial conservative who believes in judicial restraint and names Justice Antonin Scalia, Judge Tracy Gilbert, and Judge Kathy Hamilton as role models.
By all accounts, Jennifer Robin is a good judge. Her rulings have only been appealed a handful of times and she has never been reversed. She is board certified in family law, which says a lot about her expertise as only 10% of lawyers in the state achieve board certification. However, we believe that her desire to specialize the court into a civil/family law court is not the right direction for the court. The county currently has a big problem with the backlog of criminal cases. Judge Robin recognizes this problem, yet still wants specialize the 410th into another family law court. While as a Judge on the 418th family law court she has also seen cases concerning other matters, we believe the priority in this county needs to be clearing the backlog of criminal cases. If Judge Robin is currently fulfilling her duties as a judge on the 418th court, we see no reason she should leave the 418th and make the 410th into a replica of her current court.
Chuck Meyer is an attorney in private practice. His law practice is concentrated on the intersection of corporate, commercial transactional, data protection and information privacy law, compliance, M&A and joint venture law. Through his law practice he has an extensive resume of assisting businesses at all levels of their development. Prior to his current practice, he was the Chief Legal Officer for BlackBerry, a law professor, a partner at FisherBroyles, LLP, and an assistant District Attorney in Hardin County.
Mr. Meyer has an extensive education, earning a B.S. in Systems Engineering from the University of Virginia, an M.S. in Operations Research from The George Washington University, a law degree from the American University Washington College of Law, a language certificate in German from the Goethe Institut, and a Bachelor of Civil Law from the University of Oxford in England. Following college, he worked as an electronic engineer for the U.S. Department of Defense at the Pentagon, designing systems to alert senior decision makers of a nuclear attack.
Mr. Meyer says that he is running for this office because he has a passion for public service. Having known Mr. Meyer for quite some time, this passion is evident in his community activism and runs for public office; we know Chuck Meyer as a person with deep conservative values who truly does want to serve.
Mr. Meyer does not believe the court is effectively fulfilling its role. He believes that all of the district courts in the county have not effectively addressed the backlog of criminal cases, and are failing to provide adequate court time for civil matters. Mr. Meyer also believes that the courts are not getting the most out of available technology to expedite the delivery of justice. Additionally, Mr. Meyer points out that the courts and judges of the county are not exercising their collective power of appointment over the County Auditor. It is worth noting that Mr. Meyer is the only candidate in all of the county judicial races that demonstrated an understanding of and concern for this problem, which we as a group have been concerned about for quite some time.
Mr. Meyer says that three biggest challenges facing the court are:
- County growth. Mr. Meyer says that transitioning into one of the most populous counties in the state with a rapidly growing business ecosystem will bring an increasing number of sophisticated legal problems. He says this will require judges to understand not only the legal aspects of cases, but also the technical and business aspects of cases. Mr. Meyer says that in order to handle the increased work, he will apply his numerous experiences in his professional life to find a way to resolve civil disputes before trial, but also provide extended hours to the court.
- Fair and speedy trials. Mr. Meyer says he wants to ensure that the state and criminal defendants get fair, impartial, and speedy trials without cutting corners and without incurring unnecessary expense. He says he will hold both the prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys to a standard of being adequately prepared for trial with requests for continuation being granted on an exceptional basis rather than a regular one.
- Overseeing the County Auditor. Mr. Meyer says that the Montgomery County judges need to see their role as the body that appoints the County Auditor as higher on their list of priorities. He says he will dig deeper into that relationship, and if appropriate, recommend that the County Auditor position be reviewed for a potential change.
Mr. Meyer says he is a strict constructionist who believes judges should look to interpret the Constitution in its original meaning. He names Justice Craig Wright, Judge David Ezra, and Justice Antonin Scalia as role models.
Mr. Meyer wants the 410th District court to remain a court of general jurisdiction. He says he prefers the flexibility of that type of court and that the judges split up the cases pretty well. He says that there are currently 4 specialized family law courts in the county, and only one civil. He says that the priority for the 410th should be handling criminal law, with a second priority of civil law.
For full disclosure, we note that Mr. Meyer has been a friend to Texas Patriots PAC for a number of years. Chuck Meyer is a very intelligent and thoughtful man who is dedicated to our core values. We believe he has the judgement and work ethic to be a good judge. However, we are not recommending Mr. Meyer in this race as we do not see a credible path to victory.
Kristin Bays has been a partner at the law firm she runs with her husband, Bays and Bays, since 1997. Prior to this, she worked for a couple of different law firms after graduating 5th in her class from Baylor School of Law.
Mrs. Bays expresses a desire for public service as her main reason for running. She says that she is judicial material, and has long known that her highest and best use to the community would be as a judge. She also expresses a desire for wholesale ideological change in the Montgomery County court system. She says that the political establishment has had its hand in picking judges for a long time, and says Judge Robin would be a part of this establishment. Mrs. Bays claims to be the best candidate for the position because she matches the court; Judge Robin, she claims, would change the court into a family law court to match her as a candidate. Mrs. Bays also claims that Mr. Meyer, as a corporate attorney, does not spend time at the courthouse and therefore lacks the experience necessary for this court.
Mrs. Bays says that currently the court is mostly fulfilling its duties, though it could do a better job at resolving cases more quickly. However, she claims that specialization of the court would be detrimental. She says that she would like the court to remain a general jurisdiction court because doing so ensures that: it permits even distribution of cases, which itself increases productivity; it permits sharing cases to ensure quicker disposition; and it permits prioritizing cases based on the needs of the community. (For instance, if the jail is overcrowded, like it is now, the court should revise its trial docket to try more criminal cases than family or civil cases.)
Mrs. Bays says the three biggest challenges facing the court are:
- Backlog. Mrs. Bays says that to address the backlog of cases, she would permit the parties to establish their own scheduling order based upon the needs of each case, then the parties would have no option but to stick to the deadlines and try the case as schedule. She says she would also try cases with a hostility toward permitting continuances of trial settings. She also says she would pick 2 juries in a week for cases that will be tried for 2-3 days, and have more trial weeks and use time in the morning and afternoon to handle hearings. She says that she would eliminate the practice of leaving at noon on Friday and dedicate the day toward hearings, and also explore the possibility of having hearings on Saturdays.
- Cooperation between courts. Mrs. Bays says that with more case transfers between courts acting cooperatively with each other, cases get cleared because it one court finds itself with no trials in one week, then it can try a case for another court. She says that she would establish this approach by offering to do it herself, and showing by example how well this system works.
- Interagency cooperation. Mrs. Bays says that when a court works with other agencies – the sheriff’s office, constables, the VA, Tri-County, jail, etc. – alternative possibilities for resolving cases become realistic options. She says that implementation of sequential intercept programs in other jurisdictions reveals the benefits. She says ideas like Veteran’s Court and Drug Court, where the participants get help that they need to ensure no recidivism (and are still held responsible for any criminal activity), are great examples of this approach, and historically they work.
By all accounts, Mrs. Bays is a very intelligent attorney who is exceptional in her trade. She considers her judicial philosophy to be that of a strict constructionist, and names Justice Antonin Scalia, Justice Scott Brister, and Rep. Ted Poe (when he was a judge) as role models.