Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace J.W. Hand is facing three challengers in his bid for re-election.
Hand is squaring off against attorneys Albert Filidoro Jr. and Harris Hughey, and self-employed, entertainment booking manager Scott Smith in the March 4 Republic primary election.
Justices of the peace serve four-year terms and are paid about $74,000 annually. The office holds small claims court, hears Class C misdemeanor cases, conducts magisterial duties and performs weddings.
“The whole idea is it’s supposed to be a people’s court where you can go and get justice, and to conduct that is very satisfying,” Hand said of the position.
Hand, 77, of Flower Mound, a former U.S. Department of Justice criminal investigator and former intelligence unit supervisor for the Drug Enforcement Administration, said he has made truancy a focus of his courtroom. He said he has worked with area school officials to go about things a different way, asking offenders to write essays about such things as how their purchase of marijuana funded the drug cartel and might have led to someone getting killed.
“I have a lot more experience by far,” Hand said. “Sure, I have wrinkles and I’ve had birthdays, but that gives a lot of time for experience.”
His opponents, however, are looking to shake things up.
Filidoro, 61, an attorney, mediator and associate law professor from Flower Mound, has drawn the most financial support for the race, wants to start holding truancy cases at the schools, have an education advisory board and start an interactive program for students who fail to attend class.
“I’ve talked to a lot of superintendents and staff, and right now truancy is just given a slap on the wrist,” he said. “I’m hoping that we can hold the students, and now their parents, more accountable.”
Smith, 59, a former mayor, councilman and town magistrate in Trophy Club, also views truancy as a large issue he would face in office, and also suggested holding court in schools. In addition, he wants to deal with other teen issues with the help of schools, such as underage drinking and smoking.
“I would like to establish a teen court in our precinct that would be at the office of the JP, or in one of the high schools,” he said. “When the kids are judged by other kids, that makes more of an impression. They make sure they do the right community service and the parents get involved.”
Smith said that as town magistrate, he worked with police signing warrants and setting bail, and developed skills and abilities needed for a justice of the peace.
For Hughey, 54, an attorney and city prosecutor from Northlake, the biggest issue is the efficiency of the court. In his experience as an attorney working with the office, he said the budget and docket at the court were inefficient.
“As far as the staff and docket, it’s just an inefficient court,” he said. “We need to move those dockets forward in a timely fashion and manage the staff efficiently.”
Both Hughey and Filidoro emphasized their careers in law to help them lead the courts, while Smith has experience serving as Mayor of Trophy Club and sitting on the town council.
JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @JennaFDuncan.
PRECINCT 4 JUSTICE OF THE PEACE
Hometown: Flower Mound
Occupation: Precinct 4justice of the peace for seven years
Prior political history: Attended six Republican state conventions, and attended the Senatorial and precinct conventions before those; introduced resolutions for consideration for the party’s platform
Background: Justice of the peace past seven years, handling cases ranging from complicated evictions to intense juvenile hearings; previously owned a security and investigation company; former regional sales manager for a law enforcement/intelligence equipment manufacturer; twice appointed to Texas Crime and Narcotics Advisory Commission;former intelligence unit supervisor for Drug Enforcement Administration and former criminal investigator for the U.S. Department of Justice; was a Flower Mound police reservist; member, Board of Consultants, Baptist General Convention of Texas; volunteer for Southwest Transplant Alliance.
Top priorities for this office: Continue to pursue excellence; to positively impact southwest Denton County; work to get better facilities so that residents do not have togo through court clerk’s office to get into the courtroom.
Albert Filidoro Jr.
Hometown: Flower Mound
Occupation: Associate law professor, attorney and mediator
Prior political history: Flower Mound Town Council, served as mayor pro tem and councilmember, Place 2, 2007-2012 ; ran for Flower Mound Town Council in 1995;ran for county auditor in 1982.
Background: Filidoro Law Firm, 2001-present; University of Phoenix, 2001-present; worked for Verizon/GTA,1987-2007, and Ohio State Lottery Commission, 1982-1987; member, usher and orchestra member (percussion), Trietsch Memorial United Methodist Church;member and graduate of Leadership Flower Mound; member, Flower Mound Chamber of Commerce; member, Flower Mound Rotary Club; member, past president and vice president, Summit Club; member, Flower Mound Area Republican Club; director,Flower Mound Bar Association; member, Denton County Bar Association; mediator,Denton County Alternate Dispute Resolution Program; local board member, U.S. Selective Service Commission
Top priorities for this office: Bring changes to the office; make decisions according to the law;use skills to manage the office efficiently; treat both sides of a case fairly and with respect; enlist school administrators to help address truancy through an education advisory committee
Harris Ray Hughey
Occupation: Attorney and city prosecutor for 17 years with the Law Offices of Harris R. Hughey
Prior political history: I’ve never run for political office before, but I am a city prosecutor and have served on the Corral City Economic Development Committee for the past two years.
Background: Attorney, Law Offices of Harris R. Hughey; city prosecutor; has served on the Corral City Economic Development Committee for the past two years; teaches in a children’s ministry with his wife at Argyle United Methodist Church; member of Flower Mound Area Republicans Club, Tarrant County Criminal Defense Lawyers Association and the Municipal Justice Bar Association.
Top priorities for this office: Treat every single person who comes into the courtroom with courtesy and respect; set tone in courtroom with proper judicial temper amentand demeanor; reduce the number of appeals; manage staff, docket and budget efficiently
Hometown: Trophy Club
Occupation: Small business owner, operator and manager in entertainment for more than 20 years
Prior political history: Served more than 30 years as mayor and councilman in Trophy Club;former town magistrate
Background: Former mayor and councilman in Trophy Club; former town magistrate; served as Republican precinct chairman; member, Economic Board; community volunteer; youth sports coach.
Top priorities for this office: Make the court accessible for working citizens; manage the budget in a fiscally responsible manner; create a proactive, involved relationship with the youth in our precinct to deal with truancy and other juvenile issues;expand office hours to be open at least one night per week; establish a Precinct 4 Teen Court.