1. Who are you and what are you running for?
I am Don Smyth and I am seeking the position of Judge of Harris County Criminal Court at Law #13.
2. What kind of cases does this court hear?
Harris County Criminal Court at Law #13 (CCCL#13) is one of fifteen courts with county-wide jurisdiction that handles Class A and B misdemeanor cases and Class C misdemeanor appeals. The maximum sentence for cases handled by CCCL#13 is one year confinement in the Harris County Jail and a $4,000 fine. The offenses that are most often handled by CCCL#13 are driving while intoxicated, possession of marijuana and some other drugs, thefts, assaults and domestic violence assaults, prostitution and criminal trespass. CCC#13 also has jurisdiction over orders for emergency protection in family violence cases filed in the court.
3. Why are you running for this particular bench?
I have been practicing law for over 37 years and served the citizens of Harris County, Texas as an Assistant District Attorney for over 33 years. Each case handled by CCCL#13 is important to the accused, the victim of the crime and the community. I have the integrity, commitment and experience (in life as well as the courtroom) to manage the large volume of cases in CCCL#13 in a fair, efficient and effective manner. I want to continue to serve all of the citizens of Harris County in a different but equally important position of trust. Please see my website www.DonSmythForJudge.com.
4. What are your qualifications for this job?
I graduated from Westbury High School (Houston), the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Texas School of Law. I have practiced law for over 37 years. Even though my practice has been primarily that of an Assistant District Attorney, I have tried a few civil cases, and even authored appellate briefs and presented oral argument before the Supreme Court of Texas. I have also written appellate briefs in criminal cases and presented oral argument before the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (both 3 judge panels and en banc panels). I have taught numerous in-service classes to many law enforcement agencies in Harris County. I also taught the Code of Criminal Procedure to every Houston Police Academy Class since 2002. I have tried hundreds of misdemeanor and felony trials during my 33 years of service as a Harris County Assistant District Attorney including 15 successful capital murder cases. Before serving as an Assistant District Attorney I was employed by the Texas Department of Corrections for 3 ½ years to represent inmates in civil and post-conviction criminal matters. I have seen the legal issues from both perspectives.
5. Why is this race important?
Every criminal case is important to the victim, the accused and the community. It is important that each case is handled in a fair and efficient manner. Society needs to be protected, the victim needs to receive justice and restitution, and the accused needs to be treated fairly and if found guilty held accountable. This all should be done in a dignified process that respects all of those involved.
6. Why should people vote for you in November?
I have the EXPERIENCE, INTEGRITY and COMMITMENT to serve the citizens of Harris County as Judge of CCCL#13. I have a track record of handling cases with common sense and fairness according to the requirements of the law and the facts. I will conduct the business of the court in a fair, efficient and dignified manner that serves the ends of justice for all involved.