VIEWS: 4 PAGES: 4 POSTED ON: 2/11/2011
Name: Wendy McMillon Court: 219th District Court 1 What current or past judge do you most want to inspire your approach to judicial excellence, and why? Judge Ken Curry of the 153rd Judicial District Court in Tarrant County is the sitting judge whom I admire the most of all of the judges I have practiced in front of throughout the State of Texas in both state and federal courts over the past sixteen years. He is intelligent, kind, caring, compassionate, yet firm when he needs to be. He is the example I will look to if I am fortunate enough to be elected to this bench. As for local judges, Judge Cyndi Wheless is another judge whom I greatly admire. I believe she has the right balance of judicial temperament, intelligence, and fairness, and I would certainly point to her as another fine example of judicial excellence currently on the bench. 2 What has been the greatest accomplishment in your legal career? In your personal life? The greatest accomplishment in my legal career was my experience in the area of mental healthcare cases. I was one of only a handful of attorneys hired by malpractice insurers in the State of Texas to represent the interests of hundreds of psychiatrists, psychologists, and mental healthcare facilities accused of healthcare fraud in complex multi-party litigation all over the state. I successfully defended my clients in literally thousands of these cases. I also helped form some of the cornerstone case law on these issues in Rotella v. Wood, 528 U.S. 549 (2000); and the Texas Supreme Court in IHS Cedars Treatment Center v. Mason, 143 S.W.3d 794 (Tex., 2004); and Savage v. Psychiatric Inst. of Bedford, 965 S.W.2d 745 (Tex. App.--Fort Worth 1998, writ denied). One of my month long summary jury trials on these matters was named by The National Law Journal as the 1999 Defense Win of the Year where I successfully represented my clients in a matter where Plaintiffs were seeking in excess of $100 Million and we obtained a defense verdict for all of our clients. The greatest accomplishment in my personal life has definitely been being the mother to my two precious children. There is no greater joy in my life than my husband and my kids. 3 What, if anything, would you change to improve the procedures and efficiency of the court you are seeking? I believe my background as a civil trial lawyer will be a huge asset to court efficiency, in that 13,485 of the filings in the District Courts last year were Civil filings, compared to the 4,114 Criminal filings. We need more civil trial lawyers on the bench, and I believe I can better serve a majority of the lawyers and litigants in this court based on my background and experience. Also, I want to make customer service a much bigger priority. Litigants and their attorneys need to be able to get the services they need when they are dealing with court staff. Time is of the essence to everyone who comes into the court, and it will be my priority to timely meet the needs of the citizens who are served by the 219th District Court. 4 Do you feel that ALL citizens have equal and adequate access to justice in our county? How would you improve that access? Absolutely. The very definition of “justice” requires the same. See below from Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary. You don’t need to “improve” that access; you just need to follow the law and provide a fair and impartial tribunal to all while doing the same. Main Entry: justice Pronunciation: \ˈjəs-təs\ Function: noun Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French justise, from Latin justitia, from justus Date: 12th century 1 a : the maintenance or administration of what is just especially by the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment of merited rewards or punishments b : JUDGE c : the administration of law; especially : the establishment or determination of rights according to the rules of law or equity 2 a : the quality of being just, impartial, or fair b (1) : the principle or ideal of just dealing or right action (2) : conformity to this principle or ideal : RIGHTEOUSNESS c : the quality of conforming to law 3 : conformity to truth, fact, or reason : CORRECTNESS 5 Collin County tracks indigent defense dollars ordered by each judge. What effect would that reporting have on your decisions to order that the county pay for a defendant’s defense? Zero. I will follow the letter of the Texas Fair Defense Act, and appropriately apply the law to the facts, as well as follow the Local Rules implementing the same. 6 What do you perceive as the greatest obstacles to justice in Collin County? I believe the greatest obstacle to justice in Collin County stems from small groups of people trying to over-assert their perceived levels of influence, such as in the local bar and in the local political parties. These small groups do not at all reflect the actual majority of Collin County citizens, or the needs of our court system. Therefore, we, as normal citizens, need to stand up and seek representation for ALL of Collin County, not just these small but loud groups of people. I truly believe the “219th District Court of Collin County” needs to be there to serve our entire community, not just the vocal sub-culture which so desperately wants to control the system. 7 Incarceration is the most expensive criminal sanction available. How would that fact affect your sentencing decisions? Again, my decisions will be made by applying the law to the facts at issue in the case. I will not use judicial activism of any type, and my decisions will be done according to the law, not based on any internal compasses or with any end-result in mind. 8 Without commenting on a specific case or type of cases, should Collin County explore more or different types of alternative sentencing? What do you think works? What would you like to try? I believe Collin County does need to explore some additional programs to assist with alternative sentencing in certain non-violent types of crime. However, those would need to be handled on a case-by-case basis according to the law. I believe it would only be fair and appropriate to comment on specifics after studying them in further detail as one of nine members of the Board of District Judges. Also, I find it interesting that so many of these questions pertain to specific issues in the area of criminal law, when the cases in the Collin County District Courts are over 3 to 1 civil in nature. There are many pressing issues in the area of civil litigation as well. 9 Recently a Dallas judge made the news when he replaced a white juror with a minority one in a capital trial where the jury was all white and the defendant was not. Do you believe it is important for a minority defendant to have a jury that contains minority members? It is important for all Defendants to have their rights protected under the Texas and U.S. Constitutions. It is the Judge’s job to fairly apply the law in each and every case. I am not able to comment on any case prematurely without knowing the facts, but I will certainly uphold a litigant’s Sixth Amendment rights to a fair and impartial jury. 10 When a judge’s sense of justice appears to be at variance to the strict application of the law, what approach should an ethical judge take to resolve the conflict? The strict application of the law wins. There is no room for any personal sense of justice. You apply the law to the facts given in any particular situation, period. 11 Do you believe that our system of partisan election of trial judges should be continued? How can it be improved? Our country was founded as a democracy. While certainly, it seems that the most qualified individuals are not always elected to service, you cannot discount the reasons behind a democracy. The problem is, if you go to a system where judges are appointed rather than elected, the power to do so would only be in the hands of a very small group of people, and that power can be abused. Democracy must continue, and must prevail. 12 Tell the voters one thing about yourself that isn’t on any website, nor discussed at any forum. It is so hard to let your true personality shine through during a campaign. I am a kind hearted, caring and compassionate person. So much of the political process involves tearing people down, but I love to build people up. I am going to be the best judge I can possibly be, and I will follow the law. I will not stop being myself if I am elected to this bench and what you see is what you get. Thank you so much to the Collin County Observer, Frisco DWI Lawyer, and McKinneyNews.net for the opportunity to answer these questions, and I look forward to serving the citizens of Collin County.
"Name Wendy McMillon Court th District Court"