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Candidates for Texas Supreme Court, Place 6 respond to League of Women Voters questions

By Victoria Advocate
Oct. 30, 2012 at 5:30 a.m.

Nathan Hecht

Editor's note: The Advocate is profiling candidates in the Nov. 6 election. This profile compiled by the League of Women Voters features candidates for Texas Supreme Court, Place 6.

• Name: Nathan Hecht

• Political Party: Republican

• Website: justicenathanhecht.com

• Email: campaign@justicenathanhecht.com

What is your education and experience?

J.D., SMU Law School cum laude; B.A., Yale University (Honors in Philosophy); Justice, Texas Supreme Court (elected 1988, re-elected 1994, 2000, 2006); Justice, Fifth Court of Appeals, Dallas (1986-1988); Judge, 95th District Court, Dallas (1981-1986); attorney, Locke firm (1976-1981); Lieutenant, USNR, JAG Corps

How do you maintain impartiality, given the need to raise funds for political campaigns?

Texans want to elect their judges, and campaigning is expensive, but from my first race for the Texas Supreme Court, I helped pioneer contribution limits that have since become law. I have tried to raise broad support from many people and avoid any appearance of impropriety. I am always mindful of my solemn oath to faithfully execute the duties of my office.

The Texas Supreme Court oversees and controls rules and standards for the legal profession. What changes to the attorney disciplinary rules are needed to provide better protection to the public?

Attorney ethics rules should be revised to prohibit unreasonable fees, better protect client confidentiality, prohibit improper intimate relationships with clients, ensure lawyer loyalty, and provide for fair but strict discipline of violators. The Texas Supreme Court has supported rules revisions to provide high ethical standards for lawyers and protect the public.

How have you worked toward improving access to justice for all Texans and what role should the Texas Supreme Court play in ensuring access to justice?

The Texas Supreme Court is committed to improving access to justice for all Texans. I am responsible for overseeing the Court's efforts and have worked hard to obtain crucial financial support from the Legislature and Congress, and to encourage legal aid providers. Access to justice is not a partisan issue. At stake is nothing less than the integrity of the rule of law.

• Name: Michele Petty

• Political Party: Democratic

• Website: www.michelepetty.com

• Email: pettyforjudge@gmail.com

What is your education and experience?

Baylor Law School, Top Graduate May 1984 Juris Doctor; Baylor University Summa Cum Laude 1982 B.A.; Winston Churchill High School, San Antonio 1978 Top 5 percent; Board Certified in Civil Trial Law; Texas Supreme Court Briefing Attorney/researched & wrote opinions 85, Recognized Nationally for Jury Verdict. Handled Employment, Rape, Deceptive Trade, Securities, Family Law, Worker's Comp. P.I, Toxic Tort, Wills

How do you maintain impartiality, given the need to raise funds for political campaigns?

My campaign is 90 percent self-funded. Judges should not solicit money from lawyers and litigants with cases pending in their courts. As a briefing attorney for the Texas Supreme Court, I saw justice for sale. One Justice told me, "The name of the game is you reward your friends and you punish your enemies," and that was exactly how he voted. Justice should be for EVERYBODY.

The Texas Supreme Court oversees and controls rules and standards for the legal profession. What changes to the attorney disciplinary rules are needed to provide better protection to the public?

The Disciplinary Rules should be amended to cover sexual harassment. I represented women who were sexually harassed by lawyers. One was stalked, and propositioned. She filed a grievance but nothing was done by the State Bar despite at least 5 prior other serious sexual complaints against this attorney. Lawyers who take sexual advantage of clients should be disciplined.

How have you worked toward improving access to justice for all Texans and what role should the Texas Supreme Court play in ensuring access to justice?

I was director of the Family Law Project, providing indigent and low income Texans (who could not get help from Legal Aid) with trial attorneys in contested divorce & child custody battles for nominal or extremely reduced fees. I personally handled several of the trials and hearings. The Court should begin implementing the 2012 Solutions Task Force Recommendations.

• Name: Mark Ash

• Political Party: Libertarian

• Email: markashlawyer@yahoo.com

What is your education and experience?

Graduate of South Texas College of Law, 1992; criminal and civil defense lawyer for over 19 years. I have actively represented individuals in many civil and criminal matters.

How do you maintain impartiality, given the need to raise funds for political campaigns?

Judges may raise funds for political campaigns and should not be prohibited from doing so. However, the actual need to raise funds for judicial campaigns is questionable. I am not seeking any campaign contributions and therefore, I hope that by not seeking any campaign funds that my impartiality would not be questioned.

The Texas Supreme Court oversees and controls rules and standards for the legal profession. What changes to the attorney disciplinary rules are needed to provide better protection to the public?

No substantive changes in the disciplinary rules are needed to provide better protections to the general public. People who need legal services should be encouraged to seek a second opinion. The public should be provided with information about alternative avenues other than attorney services when seeking services pertaining to a legal or a financial matter.

How have you worked toward improving access to justice for all Texans and what role should the Texas Supreme Court play in ensuring access to justice?

I have actively represented individuals as an attorney. By representing individuals, I do my part to improve access to the courts. Use of alternative dispute resolution programs should be encouraged and streamlined. The Texas Supreme Court could make user-friendly forms available online with instruction manuals for public use in the District and County trial courts.

• Name: Jim Chisholm

• Political Party: Green

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