VG 11.08: Criminal District Judge
Posted on October 20, 2008
Manuel “Manny” Barraza
Residence: Mission Valley
Education: University of Texas School of Law, Doctorate of Jurisprudence, University of Texas at El Paso, Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, Riverside High School
Relevant Experience: Associate Municipal Judge for four years, prosecutor for one year, more than 29 years experience practicing law.
What are the pros and cons of electing, rather than appointing, judges? Election of judges allows for public input. Usually, good judges are retained and judges who exercise poor judgment and exhibit poor demeanor are turned out.
What are the pros and cons of judicial elections being partisan? When a judge rules on a particular case, the judge does not consider political affiliation in determining the outcome.
According to the guilty plea of Travis Ketner in the public corruption case, there has been rigging of court assignments, which, of course, implicates the courts. Is there a way to reassure the public about the integrity of El Paso courts? I am not aware of any corruption on the part of our current judges. Cases are assigned by a computer on a random basis. I have no knowledge of any courts being implicated in the corruption scandal.
Discuss the pros and cons of incumbency. Usually, being an incumbent is advantageous. However, if the judge has performed poorly, then voters may hold it against him.
Describe the worst thing you’ve seen in a courtroom, and the best thing. The worst part of being in a courtroom is when the court does not treat those who appear before the court with courtesy, dignity and respect. The most thrilling moment is when you see justice done.
Disclose your legal disciplinary history, and explain why it does or does not matter. I have never had a grievance committee sustain a grievance against me in any jurisdiction.
Judge Don Minton
Occupation: District Court Judge
Education: Top 10% Graduate at West Point; Honors Graduate at UT Law School
Relevant Experience: I have been a Judge for more than five years. I have twice demonstrated that I can eliminate a backlog of cases. As of September 19, I had disposed of more felony cases than any other judge in the El Paso County Courthouse. I have more experience with drug cases than my opponent. I have handled more felony drug cases as a judge in the past year than my opponent has handled as an attorney in the past eight years.
What are the pros and cons of electing, rather than appointing, judges? Electing judges keeps the judiciary accountable. When a judge is lazy or unethical, the public can remove the judge from office. Appointing judges is fine mid-term, but all judges should withstand the scrutiny of the public by being forced to run for election every four years.
What are the pros and cons of judicial elections being partisan? Electing judges should be a non-partisan affair, like electing a city council or a school board. By forcing judges to run a partisan campaign by running as either a democrat or a republican, the public sometimes votes for the party instead of the person. That is why I say VOTE PURPLE FOR PEOPLE! Vote for the person, not the party.
From President down to dog catcher, you should vote for the individual in each race and not vote a straight ticket. In El Paso, when you vote a straight ticket, you get a crooked government. Gone are the days when the public is not smart enough to judge individual candidates. Party bosses who tell you to blindly vote for one party or the other insult your intelligence by taking from you the right to choose who you feel is best qualified to run for office.
According to the guilty plea of Travis Ketner in the public corruption case, there has been rigging of court assignments, which, of course, implicates the courts. Is there a way to reassure the public about the integrity of El Paso courts? Yes. The Council of Judges Order which instructs the District Clerk on how to assign cases must be made public by posting it outside the District Clerk’s office. The district clerk should then print a report of each case filed each day and post it next to that Order. By bringing hidden procedures to light, the public will be able to scrutinize every move of El Paso’s public officials. Sunlight is the best sanitizer.
Discuss the pros and cons of incumbency. With one party in power, corrupt incumbents were free to run their campaign from their chambers. For an honest judge such as myself, who refuses to campaign at the courthouse, the incumbent is at a disadvantage as the opponent is free to campaign at the courthouse.
Describe the worst thing you’ve seen in a courtroom, and the best thing. The worst thing I have seen is a lawyer who lied to me. Courts operate on integrity and individuals who cannot tell the truth cannot be officers of the court. The best thing I have seen in the courtroom is a defendant whose message to me was that my putting him in jail saved his life because it forced him to break his drug habit. Months earlier when I sentenced him, there had been many family members and other individuals crying in the courtroom, saying that incarceration would not do any good and would destroy the family. My instincts told me otherwise and I was very happy to be vindicated in the end.
Disclose your legal disciplinary history, and explain why it does or does not matter. I have never been sanctioned by the State Bar or the State Commission on Judicial Conduct. I have also never been sued. My opponent has been sued at least four times, including a case where he converted a check which had a forged signature.
Voter Guide 11.2008 Online Resources
Races included in the Voter Guide 11.2008
State Representative District 75; Charlie Garza, Chente Quintanilla
State Representative District 78; Dee Margo, Joe Moody
8th Court of Appeals, Judge Place 3; Kenn Carr, Guadalupe “Lupe” Rivera
448th District Court; Christopher Antcliff, Regina Arditti
County Criminal District Court #1; Manuel Barraza, Don Minton
County Sheriff; George Stoltz, Richard Wiles
Attached as a pdf is the Voter Guide brought to you by El Paso Media Group and the El Paso Chamber of Commerce. Download your own personal copy of the Voter Guide and read it on your computer or print it out and read through it during your lunch break.
For more information:
Fax: 915 546-2220
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