When respected defense attorney and former ADA Steve Brand speaks, people listen. Below is a letter he sent regarding the Travis County Court 4 race, reprinted with permission. Get out and vote.

I believe who to vote for is something very personal and hopefully is a decision in each individual election contest which is educated, reasoned and grappled with. I have not donated a cent to any of the candidates in the races this year because I don’t believe in doing so because I will be appearing before the Judges and asking for deals from the prosecutors (that is just my own ethic of what to do—I realize the system is set up so that it seemingly forces some to contribute—this is not a comment on that but more to show my lack of bias in what I am about to write).

Under Judge Denton I was always troubled from a justice perspective that defense attorneys and those accused were forced to navigate the 3rd floor through SafePlace or its equivalent volunteers with clipboards asking people if they were victims, etc., I said a little but not enough.

When it came time to have protective order hearings and victim advocate counselors who were not attorneys were permitted to sit in the jury box during the hearings, I spoke up quite a bit but not enough.

Now, we have a situation where the sitting CC4 Judge is actively priding herself as an advocate in the field of domestic violence and I can no longer stay silent. It is extremely difficult for me to voice my opinion about a sitting Judge, not because of the person, but because of the respect as a lawyer that I hold for the actual bench, However, it has become clear that the CC4 bench is now just a political hotspot of the times pandered to in order to drag votes out of victim advocates. That is not what the judiciary is about. That is not what fairness is about and most importantly, that is not what justice is about.

It was brought to my attention this weekend that Judge Malhotra’s campaign sent out the following literature:
Why is this wrong, why does it scare me and why should it scare you?

“Margaret Chen Kercher defied a Judge to discredit a survivor of sexual assault.”

Judge Malhotra KNOWS that this case involved a sexual assault case where the accused was found Not Guilty by a Jury but is still fine labeling the complaining witness as a “survivor.”

What that means for us is that all women in her court who make allegations of domestic violence will automatically be “survivors” because even the deliberation of six individuals from the community after hearing all the evidence will not change her mind as to that issue.

If that indeed is the case, do you have an option for a bench trial now in CC4? No.

Based on other comments she has made about her knowledge of domestic violence, can you have a legitimate Daubert challenge to a family violence expert in CC4? No

Lastly, please see this Tweet from her Twitter feed from June 28:

Judge Dimple Malhotra @JudgeDimple Jun 28 I’m running for the Domestic Violence Court because working to end domestic violence has been my focus for 20 yrs. I run, not because I want a career in politics, but because this court can be the difference between life and death for someone.

This is an advocate on the bench. Her cause is a noble one—ending domestic violence—and I hope she has a career’s worth of success—it is just not the job for which she is applying. That job requires absolute silence on ANY issue involving advocacy on either side.

It is near impossible to inform a client he will receive a fair trial in a family violence case where the Judge has Tweeted that working to end domestic violence has been her focus for 20 years.

Now I know tomorrow is a run-off and Judge Malhotra only has one opponent. This is not a piece to advocate for her opponent. It is to advocate for what is right for the judiciary, fairness and Justice. I urge all of you to share this language as much as you can before tomorrow for fear that we will suffer years more in a Court under the guise of justice but with an outspoken political agenda. Whether you vote, “none of the above” tomorrow or for the other candidate is of no importance to me. But DO something. SAY something—because as a member of the ACDLA, our clients DESERVE better.

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