1. Who are you, and what are you running for?
My name is Margaret Stewart Harris and I am running for re-election as Judge of Harris County Criminal Court at Law #5.
2. What kind of cases does this court hear?
We hear criminal cases involving misdemeanors of the A and B level, as well as some class C appeals. Typically, we see charges such as Driving While Intoxicated, Assault with Bodily Injury (including family violence), Burglary of a Motor Vehicle, Theft, and Possession of Marijuana.
3. Why are you running for this particular bench?
I am running for re-election because I have a sincere continuing interest in the cases over which I preside and the rehabilitative programs with which I am involved, including the DWI Court and mental health caseloads. I will continue to make every effort to streamline our system while maintaining a court where every citizen may be assured of a fair trial.
4. What are your qualifications for this job?
I have 24 years of experience in criminal trial law. I was hired in 1986 by Johnny Holmes as an Assistant District Attorney here in Harris County. I worked there for 16 years, and tried more than 100 jury trials as first chair attorney, having been promoted to felony chief prosecutor in 1991. While a judge, I have presided over more than 225 jury trial. I taught criminal law to law enforcement officers while I was a prosecutor and have also spoken many times about criminal justice issues to citizens groups. I have received consistently high ratings on each bar poll held during my tenure, which reflects the respect of my peers.
5. Why is this race important?
In this court we see many people as they enter the criminal justice system for the first time. Many of these are youthful offenders (17 to 25 years of age). If we take the time to try to assess their needs for deterrence or rehabilitation (treatment and/or education) then they will hopefully return to the mainstream community and never re-offend. Other offenders deserve punishment. It takes experience to understand the difference. The citizens of Harris County deserve a judge who knows the law in this area and has extensive experience. Our caseload is very heavy so there is not time for on-the-job training.
6. Why should people vote for you in November?
Every citizen should care about their courts. Our work at the courthouse impacts the safety and security of all of our citizens, every single day. I have the knowledge and experience that this job requires, and I have been performing my duties well for the past 8 years as your judge in Court #5. I would like to continue serving our county as the judge in Court #5.