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Meet the Primary Candidates: Denton County Justice of the Peace, Precinct 4

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Four candidates are in the running for Denton County Justice of the Peace, Precinct 4. Early voting runs from Feb. 18-28 for the March 4 Republican Primary Election  and The Cross Timbers Gazette asked each candidate to answer a short questionnaire to help you make an informed decision at the polls. Here are their responses:

Al Filidoro

Age: 61

City/Town Residence: Flower Mound

Current Occupation: Associate Professor/Law; Attorney & Mediator at Filidoro Law Firm, PLLC

Education: JD, TX Wesleyan [now TX A&M] School of Law; MBA, LeTourneau University; BBA, Cleveland State University

To what religious and civic organizations do you belong? Trietsch Memorial United Methodist Church – Active member, Usher, and Chancel Orchestra [percussion]; Flower Mound Chamber of Commerce – Member and Leadership FM Graduate; Flower Mound Rotary Club – Member; Summit Club – Past President & Vice President, Current Member; Flower Mound Area Republican Club – Member; Denton County Republican Assembly – Member; Flower Mound Bar Association – Director; Denton County Bar Association – Member; Denton County Alternate Dispute Resolution Program – Mediator; US Selective Service Commission – Local Board Member

Why should you be elected? 80% of all cases filed in Texas are filed in JOP Courts.  My experience in Corporate America, as a successful Small Business Owner, Attorney and Mediator, and Public Official qualify me to be the best overall candidate in this race.  I promise to bring integrity, energy, efficiency, and innovation to this stagnant court and be guided by my conservative republican values.  I pledge to be a full time JOP and close my private practice to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest representing clients in other courts.  I will work to address adolescent truancy, drug use, and bullying in our schools with innovative and interactive educational programs in cooperation with our local schools.  I promise to bring equal justice under that law where both sides will be heard before a decision is rendered by the Court.  I will be unbiased and impartial with all that come before the court.

What are the main challenges facing your precinct and how would you resolve them? During the course of this campaign, numerous residents of our precinct have contacted me to relay their frustrations with this Court.  Other candidates in this race have also heard the same themes, that people are not being treated courteously, fairly, or have received their due process under law.  Groups feel disenfranchised because personal biases have predetermined the outcome of their cases.  Rulings regularly have gone against small business type organizations who report that they have been regularly cut off while presenting legally binding contracts and compelling evidence.  Bias regularly evident, and not recognized, prejudices a case when a Judge should know to recuse themselves.  To my knowledge, there have been no recusals on record by this Court. This court deserves a Judge that believes that both sides have an equal right to be heard and that there should be equal justice under the law.  Decisions from the bench should take into account the rule of law, not personal opinions, biases, whims, or inconsistent rulings. Both sides of a case will be heard fairly and honestly, with respect and dignity.  Each side will walk away knowing that they have been equally heard and have had an equal right to justice, regardless of their case outcome.  I promise to uphold the integrity and dignity of the Court to ensure that the Court is run professionally and efficiently.  I will always remember that taxpayers fund this court and that everyone should be treated with respect and dignity.  Customer service will be paramount.  I will make you proud to have supported me and I humbly ask for your vote on March 4th in the Republican Primary.

Website: www.alfilidoro.com
JW Hand (I)

Age: 77

City/Town Residence: Flower Mound

Current Occupation: Justice of the Peace Denton County Precinct 4 since 2007

Education: BS University of Tulsa, additional training by FDA, DEA, CIA, Texas Police Officer, Texas State University, San Marcos

To what religious and civic organizations do you belong? Bard of Consultants for the Baptist General Convention of Texas and attend Denton Bible Church and Southlake Gateway.

Why should you be re-elected? The JP office is constitutionally designed for ordinary citizens to seek Justice in a common sense manner.  Few Texas JP’s are lawyers; it almost defeats the purpose of the office. None of the six JP’s in Denton are lawyers. However, most Texas cases are resolved at this level. Candidates who promise new sweeping changes, innovations and programs may be telling you they plan to operate outside the legal and constitutional limits of the office. We already have enough of that. The Justice Judge should be someone who courteously and patiently listens to the parties, gives them dignity and respect they deserve then applies the rules and law, and makes a clear call, balls or strikes. Texans go to court to be ‘heard’, they don’t want someone to ‘manage’ their life.

What are the main challenges facing your precinct and how would you resolve them? JP4 has the largest population of the Denton County Precincts. It is second largest in area with the most miles of interstate highway. It has had the handicap of operating with the acknowledged worst physical facility in the county. It operates alone, removed from other county functions including the Constables Office. Hopefully in the next term the office will move into a consolidated facility in west Flower Mound. JP4 is second in legal revenue office of the Denton County precincts with the fewest employees. We do more with less– not your typical government operation. The Justice of the Peace and the Constable’s offices cover the same area. In some precincts the two office holders do not cooperate well. That was true in this Precinct before I came; now there is a good working relationship. Constable Tim Burch, who probably knows more about the real operations of the JP Precinct and my custodianship of this office, endorses me.

Website: www.judgehand.com
Harris Hughey

Age: 54

City/Town Residence: Northlake

Current Occupation: Attorney/Prosecutor

Education: J.D. University of Tulsa, B.B.A. Texas Wesleyan University

To what religious and civic organizations do you belong? Active in the children’s ministry at Argyle United Methodist Church, Corral City Economic Development Committee, Flower Mound Area Republicans Club, Tarrant County Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, State Bar of Texas, Municipal Justice Bar Association.

Why should you be elected? I have over 20 years of legal experience as an attorney and prosecutor.  I practice in this particular court, on a regular basis and understand the procedural aspects of a JP court, as well as the cases that come before this bench.  Taxpayers deserve the most experienced judicial candidate, who understands principles of law and is able to apply them to the facts of a case. That particular skill set comes from experience. I am a life-long conservative; possess a strong moral foundation, integrity, knowledge of the law, intelligence and common sense.  I believe in less government and that anyone has the opportunity to be successful in America.  Hard work, personal responsibility and accountability are required.

What are the main challenges facing your precinct, and how would you resolve them? Citizens need to understand the duties of a JP court. A JP court has very limited original jurisdiction over criminal class C misdemeanors, small claim lawsuits up to $10,000, certain, limited, property issues and can perform weddings. With JP jurisdictional limits rising, currently at $10,000, it is imperative to have someone on the bench who understands fundamental principles of law and can apply them to any set of facts. This skill set comes from experience and years of practice.  A JP Judge must also be intelligent, and use common sense along with principles of law.  I practice in this particular court on a regular basis and courts just like it, daily, as an attorney and prosecutor.  My private practice consists of criminal law, personal injury and business litigation. This is the “people’s court.”  The judge sets the tone is his courtroom with his demeanor and judicial temperament.  Respect and courtesy should be displayed by the judge at all times to the litigants, witnesses and attorneys. Anything less is unacceptable.  Litigants and Defendants have a constitutional right to their “day in court,” and in a timely fashion.  Citizens of Precinct 4 can rest assured, that if you find yourself in my court, you will have a judge who understands the law and knows how to apply it. I will render competent, honest and ethical justice, using sound principles of law. In addition, as a steward with your tax dollars, I will reduce the number of appeals out of this court.   I will get it right the first time. I will keep dockets moving forward so your case doesn’t sit on the docket for an extended period of time.  I will manage my staff and courtroom in an efficient manner. Time is money. It would be an honor to serve as your Justice of the Peace in Precinct 4.  I ask that you vote for Harris Hughey.

Website: www.Hugheyfor JP.com
Scott Smith

Age: 59

City/Town of Residence: Trophy Club

Current Occupation:
Self Employed Small Business – Owner/ Operator/ Manager

Education: Richland College/ University of Texas at Dallas

To what religious and civic organizations do you belong? United Methodist Church.  Flower Mound Republican Club, Denton County Young Republican Club.

Why should you be elected? I’ve served the public more than 30 years as Mayor, Councilman, Precinct Chairman, Economic Board member, Community Volunteer, and Youth Sports Coach. I’ve presided over council and tempered many disputes, bringing divergent people and ideas together through reasoning and common sense, arriving at agreements for the benefit of all.  As Town Magistrate, I worked directly with police signing arrest warrants and setting bail. Through these experiences, I have developed the skills and abilities a good justice must posses: act with integrity, listen to all perspectives, relate to adults and youth alike and apply justice fairly and equally for all.

What are the main challenges facing your precinct, and how would you resolve them? The main challenges are making the court accessible for our working citizens, managing the budget in a fiscally responsible manner and creating a proactive, involved relationship with the youth in our precinct. I would take multiple actions to solve these challenges. First, I would expand office hours and include opening at least one night per week to make the court be more accessible to working men and women. Next, during the last eight years, the cost to run this office has increased nearly 20%. I would take whatever steps necessary to ensure the office runs in a cost-effective manner. Finally, with regard to our youth, I would reach out to local school districts to determine how we could work together to better educate our children on the consequences of truancy and other juvenile issues. I would also like to establish a teen court in our precinct. Our children are our most important asset and must be protected. Of utmost importance to me is providing fair and equal justice for all while treating everyone with compassion and respect.

Website: www.elect-scottsmith.com

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