Q&A with Callaway
“You are not a lawyer, why should I vote for you for Justice of the Peace?”
This is an actual question from someone that I know well. It is an important question that I am prepared to answer. My opponent is a lawyer with years of legal training, whereas I have worked in the financial services industry for 20 years. Many citizens are surprised that you do not need to be a lawyer and that most of the JP’s in Denton County history have not been lawyers, including our current JP, the honorable J.W. Hand.
When you are a judge in a Justice of the Peace court, your job is uphold the law that applies to JP court. This includes case related to traffic tickets, truancy and evictions. If a case is outside the scope of that court, it must be referred to the appropriate ruling body. . Many people I’ve talked to have insisted that as a lawyer, you must unlearn everything that you know and focus exclusively on the law and the process of the JP system.
This is similar to the work that I did with workplace savings plans. Workplace savings plans are very complex and are governed by the rules of ERISA. The type of plan that many small and mid-sized companies used is called a prototype plan. My job was to know how our plan worked and what sections would apply to give you the features that you wanted. Most importantly, I needed to know the limits of the prototype plan. If you wanted something that was outside the scope of the prototype plan, I knew you needed to seek an ERISA lawyer.
The Justice of the Peace court system is designed in a similar fashion. Much like a prototype savings plan, it is a scaled down version of the full scope of law. It is the people’s court and the court of first entry. Being able to work within this scope and not get bogged down with outside concerns is paramount to keeping the court working as intended. While I respect the training and experience it takes to run a law practice for many years, those skills are not necessarily the ones that are needed in the JP court.
Imagine I had two potential candidates for a job, a world class brain surgeon and a paramedic. I then asked you which one is more qualified for the job? The first question you would want to know is, what is the job? If the job was battlefield medicine, which requires you to treat soldiers quickly and to perform triage, the more qualified person would be the paramedic and not the brain surgeon. Yes, the brain surgeon would be an excellent resource when it came to brain trauma, but the skills that they learned through years of training and experience would have to be put on the back burner in order to get through all the patients and different working conditions that they find themselves in.
So my experience and knowledge makes me qualified, yet the most important aspect of being a judge is about how you treat people. Anyone can learn the JP law; they have a school for that. Treat people with respect and dignity is critical for this office and cannot be taught.. My history with people who disagree with me, how I work to understand both sides of an argument, my temperament and approach to difficult questions: these qualities make me the clear choice to be your Justice of the Peace in precinct four. I will be a Justice of the Peace that is fair, informed, and will follow the law.