Change is needed in Travis County Court 4. An Endorsement of Margaret Kercher for Judge

Malhotra is backed by the police union and other law enforcement organizations.
On July 14th, Margaret Kercher and Dimple Malhotra are squaring off for a seat as judge in Travis County Court #4, which exclusively handles domestic violence misdemeanors. Those who know me are aware that I mostly avoid politics. However, since I have met and dealt with both candidates personally, I wanted to weigh in on this very close race.

Delay has always been the name of the game in Court 4. Even before Judge Malhotra took over, prosecutors in court 4 often secure punishments not with convictions, but with pretrial delays. The saying goes: “You can beat the rap but you can’t beat the ride.” In Travis County no court exemplifies this more than in court 4.

Since Judge Malhotra took over, the problem has become exponentially worse. More defendants are being held in jail while they wait for trial (a trial that is no where in sight thanks to COVID-19.) More burdensome conditions are being placed on those not in custody. In short, more pressure is being put on defendants who have not yet been convicted of anything. In turn, this has emboldened prosecutors to abuse this system to exact punishments pre-conviction. It is not justice, in any American sense of that word.

To give a brief run-down of how pretrial conditions are supposed to work: Defendants are supposed to be free on bond unless they are either A) A flight risk, or B) A danger to the community. Pretrial detention or conditions are not intended as punishment, or as a way to pressure defendants into a plea. That is not how Judge Malhotra sees it. For her, it is a way to exact pressure on defendants. She is a former ADA, and she has not taken off that hat. A judge’s job is to be impartial, not to advocate for one side or another. Judge Malhotra does not understand this concept.

Also, to make it seem like she is running through the docket more quickly, Malhotra transferred certain misdemeanors that don’t strictly involve family violence to other courts. This creates the appearance with misleading statistics that she is handling her docket in a timely manner.

If you have read to this point, it should come as no surprise that Judge Malhotra is backed by the Austin Police Union and was funded by other law enforcement-related PACs. Until last week, she proudly displayed these endorsements on her website. Today, these endorsements are not displayed. Instead, she has replaced it with the following quote:

“*Please note: I have signed the pledge, therefore my campaign is returning the donation made by the Austin Police Association and I have removed the law enforcement PAC endorsements from my site.”

But a leopard does not change its spots. Not overnight. This is a convenient move because she knows keeping the endorsement would lose her votes. At the end of the day, Malhotra is nothing more than an extension of law enforcement.

Margaret Kercher is an impassioned and talented defense attorney. She has the skills and experience necessary to excel as a judge. Perhaps more importantly, she has the temperament to be fair and impartial to defendants, victims, and prosecutors.

In March, these candidates were separated by very few votes. This is truly a race where your vote matters. The runoff is happening July 14. Please get out and vote Margaret Kercher for Court 4. Visit Margaret’s website

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