In 2014, I knocked on a South Dallas door to a house that was opened by a 96-year-old black lady. Her long white hair was neatly rolled with pink sponge rollers, which reminded me of my childhood. Her smile shone on me with the same intensity as the hot summer sun. Before I could speak, she invited me inside to enjoy the cool air. Unwilling to intrude, I stood in the doorway and explained my reason for knocking; I wanted to be the next judge of County Criminal Court #11. As I laid out my prior experience and goals upon being elected, her smile broadened. Although her voice was gentle, her words were strong, “I remember when my daddy use to pay poll tax. I still have the stickers. Now look here.” She eyed me up and down with a teary smile. “I’m definitely gonna vote for you, just promise me one thing; you WILL make a difference.”
A year later, I was sworn in as the presiding judge of County Criminal Court #11, a misdemeanor domestic violence court. Everything I have done since meeting my 96-year-old voter has been done with the purpose of making a difference. I never considered myself a stereotypical judge, merely calling the balls and strikes. Instead, I grounded myself on the African Proverb that a child who is not embraced by the village will burn it down to feel its warmth. Since my 2015 election, I have joined the village to have a positive impact on our most vulnerable: victims and defendants in the Criminal Justice System, a population that includes the homeless, indigent, mentally ill and our youth.
As a nontraditional jurist, I have leaned heavily on Restorative Justice and created programs such as Intercepted, which provides rehabilitation to offenders of Domestic Violence, and Pipeline to Possibilities- a program that educates high school students on the Criminal Justice System, thereby giving them the tools to avoid incarceration. I’ve used unconventional ways to encourage offenders to do the right thing through my Bring ‘Em Back program, which incentivizes convicted offenders to safely turn in their handguns. I have joined and served in organizations which aid the underserved such as the Lullaby House, an organization which provides housing for teen mothers and the Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce, an organization that provides support and resources for black-owned businesses.
Although COVID-19 closed the doors on many familiar ways of doing business, it opened an opportunity for me to revolutionize the courtroom through ground-breaking technology. In late 2019, I established a virtual system for the Dallas County Criminal Courts which granted incarcerated offenders virtual access to the courtroom despite the Shelter in Place order. Through our new Court Call platform, all parties to a criminal case can proceed virtually without posing a risk of COVID to any party. This in turn has resulted in justice not being delayed due to the pandemic.
As you can see, throughout my last two terms, I have kept my promise to my 96-year-old voter, but also Dallas County as a whole. This year I am up for reelection and hope to continue my journey. Please help me continue my progress by donating to my 2022 campaign. You can donate by clicking here. Thank you for your support. It truly takes a village to CLOSE THE DOORS ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.