Editorial note: This is the twelfth in our series of electronic interviews with candidates for Statewide and Harris County offices. We have sent questionnaires to every candidate on the ballot, given we could find a working email address. We have printed their answers verbatim as we receive them. If you are or work for such a candidate, and we did not send a questionnaire, please contact us <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Texpatriate:What is your name?
CW: Clinton E. “Chip” Wells, Jr.
T: What office are you seeking?
CW: Judge, 247th Family District Court, Harris County, Texas
T: Please list all the elected or appointed POLITICAL (including all Judicial) offices you have previously held, and for what years you held them.
T: What is your political party?
T: What is a specific case in which you disagree with actions undertaken by the incumbent?
CW: I believe that the previous Court administration has maintained a concern regarding the best interests of children whose interests are the subject of matters pending before the Court. I would continue to maintain that concern from the previous Court’s administration. I would end the previous administration’s mandatory participation in “parenting class” and the manner with which the Court dealt with failure to attend
the mandatory parenting class.
T: What is a contentious issue that you belief the Court will face in the near future? Why is it important? How would you solve it?
CW: There is a growing issue arising out of the number of pro se! litigants seeking relief in the Family Courts of Harris County, Texas. The already crowded dockets are further clogged by these individuals who choose to represent themselves, yet are often ill-prepared to proceed or to proceed efficiently.
There should be some docket accommodation for those individuals who choose to represent themselves that provides for their right to self-representation but does not otherwise impair the flow of the docket for litigants with counsel. I propose the creation of a “pro se!” docket which pro se! litigants will be directed to that is especially created to accommodate their needs. Information regarding that docket (or
dockets) would be published on the website and pro se! litigants would be directed to those docket settings.
T: Do you believe that the incumbent has specifically failed at her or his job? If so, why?
CW: [no answer]
T: Why you, as opposed to your opponents?
CW: Experience. I bring over 37 years of legal experience to the Bench. In addition to my 37 years of legal experience I have 62 years of life experience which provides the foundation for a well-reasoned, well-rounded application of the law, a reasonable application of the Rules to effect a just and right resolution of disputed matters and a predictable outcome for lawyers practicing in the 247th Family District Court. My
opponent is a much younger man without the benefit of similar life experiences to equip him for a position on the Bench. His five years of legal experience minimally exceeds the four years experience required by State Law to serve as a State District Court Judge.
T: What role do you think a Family District Judge should have individually? What role do you think the Family District Courts should have as a whole?
CW: I believe that a Family Court Judge should be predictable in his or her application of the law and the rules of procedure. The Judge is obliged to apply the law and the rules in a manner calculated to obtain a result that is just and right. I do not believe that Family Courts are a place where Judges should legislate or force their own personal values or views on families and individuals that come before it. To the
extent reasonable Courts should allow parents to make decisions regarding their children and rely upon the lawyers and the individuals before the Court to make the best decisions for individuals involved.
T: What role do you believe that mandatory mediation should have in Family law cases?
CW: I believe that mediation should be mandatory in Family Law cases unless, the lawyers for the litigants have good cause to believe and do believe that mediation would not be successful. I do not believe that the Court should require mediation when counsel for the parties file a joint objection to mediation.
T: What are your thoughts on the partisan election of Judges?
CW: The partisan election of Judges is an inefficient and undesirable process for the creation of a Judiciary. However, I have not heard a method proposed which is more suitable for the creation of a Judiciary.
T: What are the three most important issues to you, and what is at least one thing you have done to address each of them?
CW: The three most important issues to me include maintaining an open court that provides equal access to justice for all who come before the Court, protection of the best interests of the children whose lives are impacted by the Court and ending the partisan favoritism that has characterized many of the Courts in recent years. I promise to maintain a Court without bias or prejudice to an individual’s gender, race or sexual orientation. I will promote the best interests of children whose lives are affected by the Court. There will be an end to the favoritism in appointments made to a favored few. Appointments should be made based on merit, need and experience suitable to assist the Court and/or provide for the benefit of individuals for whom appointments are made.