ALL RISE, the Honorable Judge...is in a Red Hat!
Uncontested sums up election race this year for the County Court at Law Judge. The Honorable Bill Harris has gone uncontested in the GOP Primary and will be uncontested in the November General Election for the seat he currently holds.
Actually, with the Honorable Eric Clifford out of the 6th District Court while recovering from his accident, Bill Harris is filling two seats in the Court House!
We had a chance to sit down with the Incumbent Judge in between his busy day in the 4th & 2nd floor court rooms for a little “Under the Red Hat” inquiry.
Question 1: Tell us what you see as the description of your position and its responsibilities?
Bill: The County Court at Law Judge is a court whose jurisdiction is based off of state legislation from input given by Lamar County and it is a court of general jurisdiction. We share a lot of jurisdiction with the County Court Judge in guardianship, misdemeanors and probate cases. We also share with the District Court for civil and family cases. In 2013 I pushed for and got felony cases that can now be heard in my court. One of my campaign promises that I had in 2010 and since taking office that has happened is being able to hear Juvenile cases that I can now share with all the judges. I have taken on about 50 percent of the County Court Juvenile cases and helped to reduce their case load.
Question 2: Tell us in short about yourself – education, experience, family, faith?
Bill: I was born and raised in Wichita Falls. I graduated high school and attended Midwestern State University there as well. I studied abroad in Finland and England at Cambridge University and the University of London. I graduated from Midwestern State with a double major in History and Economics. I attended St Mary’s University in San Antonio where I received my Juris Doctor (J.D.).
Most of my career was spent as a prosecutor in Wichita Falls, Tyler and in Paris. I worked as the drug task force prosecutor and as the 1st Assistant District Attorney for Paris. I was a prosecutor in the US Attorney’s Office Eastern District of Texas. I worked for a few years at a private law firm doing business litigation, toxic tort litigation and criminal defense. My family and I moved back to Paris in 2007 where I was the 1st Assistant County Attorney. I ran for and was elected to the County Court at Law Judge seat in 2010.
I am married to an attorney also. My wife is the Assistant City Attorney, Municipal Court Prosecutor, and the Police Departments Legal Advisor. We have been married for 20 years and have two sons. My oldest is just starting as a freshman at Texas A&M College Station, will be in the Cadet Corps and is studying biomedical engineering. Our youngest son will be a sophomore at Paris High School and is an avid soccer player. We attend Covenant Christian Church.
Question 3: What is your party affiliation and why?
Bill: I am a lifelong Republican and as a general rule I agree with the foundation of the party, but I consider myself to be a Reagan Republican.
Question 4: How do you fell about straight party ticket voting and why?
Bill: I have passed party lines in the past and will do so in the future. I will do that in local races because I know the candidates. I take time to understand the candidates and their philosophies. I gravitate towards republican but will always vote for the person. In major metropolitan areas where you don’t know your candidates, I can see why straight party voting comes in. I hope people take time to learn about the candidates before voting.
Question 5: Do you own any businesses or do any other work outside of this position?
Bill: No, wait, does raising miniature donkeys and selling about one a year count or is that just an expensive hobby?
Question 6: What has not been accomplished that will be the 1st thing on your agenda if re-elected?
Bill: Drug Court! We are very close to getting a drug court in Lamar County. Hopefully it will be approved by the end of the year. All of the judges will be able to hear those cases.
Question 7: Have any organizations or groups endorsed you?
Bill: The Republican Party.
Question 8: Why should people vote for you if they vote straight party democrat?
Bill: I think voters should vote for a person that is qualified, experienced and I feel that I have demonstrated that I can do it. I have kept my campaign promise of increasing the courts workload, helping out the other Judges’ dockets, increasing the jurisdiction of the court and by saving the county money in the process. I cut my budget in a financially prudent manner.
Question 10: Anything else you would like to add or say in your own words?
Bill: I am deeply humbled and gratified to serve in this position. I appreciate all the support that my family and I have received in Lamar County. It truly has been wonderful and I am looking forward to 4 more years of it!
Written by “Under the Red Hat.” The Red Hat is un-biased, un-affiliated and represents all of us here in our community. If you have an idea, a comment, or want to more about people in our area that are making an impact on our lives through their profession, life, or cause, then just let us know who you would like to see “Under the Red Hat!”firstname.lastname@example.org