Top picks among Dems in races for district court

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Democrats have a number of choices to make for the district court benches this primary — and in juvenile court a chance to atone for a mistake in 2018.

With early voting set to begin on Monday, we urge voters to prioritize legal experience and temperament when making these judicial selections. Republicans are not opposed, so here are our picks for the Democratic primary:

Court of the 45th arrondissement: For this civilian bench, we recommend Judge Marie Lou Alvarez. Alvarez faces Dinorah Diaz, who has 30 years of experience dealing with divorces, injuries and other issues. Alvarez earned an undergraduate degree in engineering from Stanford and then a law degree from Seton Hall University. She worked with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, then opened a private practice before winning the seat in 2018. Diaz and others have raised concerns about Alavarez’s temper. If Alvarez wins this primary, we hope she takes these concerns to heart.

Court of the 187th district: We recommend Judge Stephanie R. Boyd, one of the most impressive candidates we’ve come across this primary season. Boyd was a defense attorney and criminal prosecutor before winning that bench in 2018. She’s experienced, knows the law, has a great temper, is hard working, and exudes fairness. She is extremely qualified for this seat. She faces Veronica I. Legarreta, a criminal defense attorney who ran for that seat in 2018 as a Republican.

224th District Court: In this civil court, we recommend Marisa Flores, who has an interesting career path that includes her position as Director of Legal Services for Family Violence Prevention Services. Flores faces Milton Fagin, who has repeatedly shown up to be a judge. In her role with Domestic Violence Prevention Services, Flores has helped survivors of domestic violence with protective orders, divorce, and child custody. In 2018, she joined the law firm Begum Peláez-Prada.

225th District Court: Peter Sakai long held that civilian bench until he stepped down this fall to run for Bexar County judge. Sakai was an exceptional jurist who gained a national reputation for his work on child protection issues. We recommend Christine Vasquez Hortick for she will continue that legacy and build her own. Hortick faces Shannon Roberta Salmón, who practiced family and immigration law. We were impressed with Salmon, but even more impressed with Hortick. Well-versed in various aspects of civil and family law, Hortick has extensive experience in child protection cases. She is also the president of the Bexar County Juvenile Court Prosecutors Association. She has the perfect experience for this bench.

226th District Court: We recommend Judge Velia J. Meza for this criminal bench. She faces longtime attorney Demetrio Duarte Jr. Quite simply, we see no reason to change. Meza is a longtime defense attorney who won this bench in 2018. She has worked hard, is held in high regard by her peers, and has embraced innovation throughout the pandemic.

285th District Court: No recommendation. We can’t go with Nadine Melissa Nieto or Lisa Uresti-Dasher for that civilian bench. Both make us think. Uresti-Dasher had to answer questions about his Bexar County residency and legal background due to botched campaign filings. Meanwhile, Nieto had to answer questions about prior tax liens and student loan default — a lawsuit she eventually settled with the federal government, agreeing to repay around $78,000.

289th District Court: We strongly recommend the challenger, Pink Sosa, for this juvenile court. Sosa is everything Judge Carlos Quezada is not. She is certified in criminal and juvenile law, and before entering private practice, she spent 22 years in the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office, where she handled cases in that same court. Quezada won that seat in 2018, although he has had two juvenile clients in his career. We were appalled to see that he donned his robe for a silly comedy video about an “argument” over old underwear. Voters must put children first in this race.

437th District Court: Voters will choose between two bright and experienced lawyers in this primary race. We recommend a long-time defense attorney Joel Perez. His opponent, Scott Simpson, a former prosecutor with the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office, has extensive experience and pedigree. But Perez would make an exceptional judge. He has tried fifteen death-sentence cases, is deeply respected and has the right temperament.

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