Southern Denton County residents will head to the polls in July for a runoff election after no one in the race for 431st District Court Judge received more than half of the vote in the March Republican primary election.
The top two vote-getters — Jim Johnson and Derbha Jones — will be on the primary runoff ballot. The winner will face Diana Weitzel, the only Democratic candidate, in the November election.
The Cross Timbers Gazette asked each candidate to answer a brief questionnaire to help voters make an informed decision at the polls.
Election Day is Tuesday, July 14. Early voting will run from June 29 through July 10.
Jim Johnson, 59, Plano
Current occupation: Adjunct law professor and attorney (criminal, family and business law)
Education: I graduated valedictorian of Everman High School then went to UT Austin where I finished in the top 1% of my class with majors in economics, accounting, and business in the University of Texas Business Honors Program. I attended law school at Texas Wesleyan (now Texas A&M) where I also graduated top 1%. For the past eleven years, I’ve served as Adjunct Professor of Law teaching at Texas A&M University Law School, in addition to being a practicing attorney.
Public service: I am the Denton County Republican Party’s First Vice Chairman. My wife (Pam Johnson) and I are active members of eight local Republican Party clubs, and we have served as Delegates to multiple Texas Republican Party State Conventions. In 2018, I was awarded the Denton County GOP Chairman’s Award for outstanding volunteer service.
What is the main issue facing your community and how would you address it: Because of the COVID19 shutdown, there are now more than 500 felony crimes waiting to go to trial in the 431st. Those cases include arson, aggravated assault, strangulation, burglary of habitation, theft, financial crimes, harassment, stalking, intoxication assault, kidnaping, felony drug possession, sexual assault, and murder. Those crimes need to be properly handled under the Constitution, the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, and the complex rules of evidence. There also are more than 400 business/civil cases and 35 CPS cases. This backlog needs to be managed by a person with broad executive experience. I would hold hearings early in cases and apply my experience in business to incorporate efficiencies into all court processes.
Why are you the best candidate for this position: I have experience with every type of case this Court handles. I’ve been lead attorney on more than 150 cases, and I’ve done Jury Trials here in Denton plus four other counties. Most important, in this time of riots and liberal attempts to take away our rights, I have always been a Republican. The 431st is a powerful court with general unlimited jurisdiction covering crime, punishment, fundamental rights, plus every type of conflict. No conservative organization has endorsed my opponent. I am endorsed by Texas Values, Texas Family Action, Texas Home School Coalition, Empower Texans, Texas Right to Life, Denton County Conservative Coalition, and Gun Owners of America because of my broad legal knowledge and my rock-solid judicial philosophy.
Facebook page: Jim Johnson
Email: [email protected]
Derbha Jones, 57, Denton
Current occupation: Attorney
Education: Juris Doctorate (2001) Texas Wesleyan School of Law (now known as Texas A&M School of Law
B.S. Radiologic Technology (1984) Northeast La. University
Board Certified – Family Law – Texas Board of Legal Specialization
Board Certified – Child Welfare Law – Texas Board of Legal Specialization
Public service: Board Member – State Bar of Texas Child Welfare Law Section
Board Member – Legal Aid of Northwest Texas
Board Member – Denton Housing Authority
Former Board Member – CASA Denton County
State Bar of Texas Probate Pattern Jury Charge Committee Member
Former Member – State Bar of Texas Child Abuse & Neglect Committee
Former Republican Precinct Chair – Denton County – Precinct 1000
What is the main issue facing your community and how would you address it: A challenge would addressing any backlog in the court’s docket that there may be and ensuring that the atmosphere in the courtroom is one where all citizens are respected and treated equally. I would address any potential backlog by requiring scheduling orders and frequently setting stagnant cases for review and timely issuing a ruling in cases. Within the courtroom, I would treat all with respect deserved and I would monitor the treatment of others by all of the moving parts and persons within the courtroom to ensure equal justice and treatment for all from entry to exit.
Why are you the best candidate for this position: I have 18 years of legal experience and I am currently 1 of only 18 attorneys in the State of Texas who are Board Certified in both Family Law and Child Welfare Law. I am the only candidate in this race who is Board Certified. I have represented clients in 600+ cases in Denton County which includes jury trials and non-jury trials. I am the only candidate in this race, qualified to serve as an attorney who represents abused and neglected children.I have consistent courtroom experience and legal expertise and proven knowledge of the law. I will rule based on the evidence and according to the laws and constitutions of the U.S. and this State, and I will not legislate from the bench. Experience Matters in this important judicial race.
Facebook page: Derbha Jones for Judge – 431st District Court
Email: [email protected]