My Vision

I believe that the civil courts should be an accessible space for any person, regardless of race or background, to find remedies for challenges they may face. However, I know that access to the court is not so simple, and that especially for low-income and people of color, justice is not so easily found in the courtroom. 

 

As Judge of the 261st District Court, I will do everything within my power to make my courtroom accessible. In order to accomplish this goal, there are three points in the trial process that present different issues of access I’ve identified.

What are the barriers to access?

1. Bringing your issue to court

For many, bringing an important issue to court in the first place is not seen as an option, despite the major potential benefits, such as legal protections in the case of domestic violence or violations of child custody agreements. This is especially true for low-income people and people of color. A national study from the American Bar Association found that while 47% of low-income individuals were experiencing one or more civil legal needs at a time, only around 25% of those people sought legal advice. And people of color are disproportionately experiencing civil legal issues. 

 

Understandably so, there is a lack of trust among our communities in the legal system and government institutions at large, so of course the civil court is not seen as a realistic place to go to have your problems solved. Many times, people have had negative experiences in these spaces in the past, being made to feel disrespected or shamed. In this context, taking no legal action at all, rather than subjecting oneself to such a negative experience is an understandable response.

2. Navigating Trial Procedures

Our legal system is complex, with a large number of procedural hurdles between a potential litigant and their day in court. As detailed further below, we have a crisis of lack of legal representation, with the majority of people in civil cases doing so without a lawyer. Without proper legal counsel, meeting the procedural requirements of a trial is incredibly challenging for the average layperson. From initiating a trial through the proper serving process to the opposing party, to the filing of essential documents, our court system is incredibly difficult to navigate on one's own.

3. Lack of representation in the courtroom

One of the largest issues we face is a crisis in lack of representation in our civil courts. A majority of litigants entering the civil courts are doing so pro se, or without legal representation from a lawyer, and the highest rates of self-representation are happening in cases where basic human needs are at stake, such as health, housing, income security, and familial relationships. National research has shown that in 76% of non-family civil cases, at least one party has no representation. In family law matters, these numbers are even worse, with as many as 80-90% of litigants entering the court without counsel.

Let's talk solutions.

I will take a multi-pronged approach to increase our community’s access to the civil court.

1. Community Outreach

Work with activists, non-profits, and community leaders to increase knowledge and trust in civil courts as a means to seek justice.

2. Procedural Audit

Carefully look through pre-trial procedures to find barriers to use, with a focus on plain, easy-to-understand language and usability. Work with community groups and leaders to identify barriers in accessing the court in these procedures.

3. Increasing Representation

Partner with local Bar Association and other legal Associations to increase pro-bono representation available for civil litigants.

Join Us

I'm counting on your support. Please let me know what I can do to earn your vote & donate if you can!

1. Community Outreach

Work with activists, non-profits, and community leaders to increase knowledge and trust in civil courts as a means to seek justice.

2. Procedural Audit

Carefully look through pre-trial procedures to find barriers to use, with a focus on plain, easy-to-understand language and usability. Work with community groups and leaders to identify barriers in accessing the court in these procedures.

3. Increasing Representation

Partner with local Bar Association and other legal Associations to increase pro-bono representation available for civil litigants.

1. Community Outreach

Work with activists, non-profits, and community leaders to increase knowledge and trust in civil courts as a means to seek justice.

2. Procedural Audit

Carefully look through pre-trial procedures to find barriers to use, with a focus on plain, easy-to-understand language and usability. Work with community groups and leaders to identify barriers in accessing the court in these procedures.

3. Increasing Representation

Partner with local Bar Association and other legal Associations to increase pro-bono representation available for civil litigants.

4. Active Judging

Utilize innovative, engaged judging style to ensure that those without legal representation in the courtroom understand proceedings and are able to represent themselves to the fullest extent possible.

It will take compassion, listening, and commitment to make my courtroom a place where every litigant gets equal access to justice, but this is why I have set out to become the next Judge of the 261st District.