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Republican Jack Marr to preside over 24th Judicial District

By BY J.R. ORTEGA and Jessica priest - JRORTEGA@VICAD.COMJPRIEST@VICAD.COM
Nov. 7, 2012 at 5:07 a.m.


Republican Jack Marr will preside over the 24th Judicial District Court beginning Jan. 1.

Marr beat Democratic challenger Sandra McKenzie by a clear margin Tuesday night in Victoria County and in the other five counties in the district.

Marr also will hear cases in Calhoun, Jackson, DeWitt, Goliad and Refugio counties, replacing Judge Joseph P. Kelly, who is retiring.

"I was pleased by the margin of victory," Marr said. "I was particularly pleased that it seemed to be a victory across party lines. You can't really attribute it to straight party voting."

Throughout the campaign, the two offered different ideas about how the court should be run.

McKenzie wanted to do away with what she called a "cattle call" type-docket and set up appointments every 30 minutes. She said attorneys bill their clients for just standing around, which wastes taxpayers' money. She also advocated Victoria set up settlement weeks, where professional mediators volunteered their time to settle disputes at discounted rates.

Marr said how things are run now creates an environment where deals are often struck. He did not advocate for procedural changes to the courtroom.

The pair also disagreed about how prevalent family law cases were on the docket. Marr said his family law expertise made him uniquely qualified for the position, especially after he found that those types of cases take up anywhere from 70 to 75 percent of the Victoria County's civil docket.

McKenzie did some math, too. She showed a pie chart at the Victoria Advocate debate that said about 42.2 percent of the cases filed in the six counties in the 24th District's jurisdiction were related to family law. The numbers were from Sept. 1, 2011, to Sept. 30, 2012, and came from the Texas District Courts' website.

McKenzie did not return the Advocate's phone calls Tuesday night.

Marr said he wishes McKenzie the best, but was happy with how the voting turned out.

"What the votes showed is that there is a large number of people from both parties that felt I was the more qualified candidate. I'm flattered by that," Marr said.

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