Ellis County Court at Law #1
Jim Chapman’s responses to ECP questions.
1.Why do you want this seat and if elected, why would you want to continue to serving?
There are challenges that currently confront this court and I know I can provide the solutions. I have specific ideas for improvements and the legal experience, management skills and leadership characteristics to implement them. They include the streamlining of court processes, the rendering of prompt decisions and hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer savings by reducing court appointed attorney costs.
I am seeking election as judge of the Ellis County Court at Law #1 because I believe I can make a difference. I have always enjoyed public service as a volunteer in my after work hours and know that I will find public service in my professional life rewarding.
2.What are your three platform issues?
The challenges that face this court are threefold. First, this court spends the most of any court in Ellis County on court appointed attorneys at taxpayers’ expense, $650,000.00 last budget year alone. Second, the court processes currently in place allow for unnecessarily lengthy Child Protective Services hearings that can last for days, crowd out other types of cases and drive up taxpayer costs as the court appointed attorneys bill taxpayers by the hour. Third, judicial decisions have been delayed after trial, with citizens sometimes waiting months to learn the result of their trial.
I will solve the first problem, the excessive expense of court appointed attorneys for parents whose children have been removed from the home. I can do this by strictly following the law and only appointing attorneys for parents who are truly indigent and show up to contest the charges, thus reducing the number of attorneys appointed and the time spent by the attorneys in court (and thus their costs) to reasonable amounts. I will be a careful steward of your money and will not forget that every penny spent is your money. With these conservative measures I hope to save taxpayers over a half million dollars during my first four year term.
I will solve the second challenge by the prudent time limitations in CPS cases. This is commonly done in other courts in this and other counties. This will allow our children to still be fully protected, yet allow the child protective agencies and the CASA volunteers who serve the children to spend more time providing direct services to the children rather spend that time in protracted court hearings. Don’t mistake lengthy hearings as somehow making for better justice; it is the judge’s ability to grasp the pertinent facts, apply the law to those facts and the willingness to then make a prompt decision that result in high quality legal decisions. The quicker a judge can competently handle the case the better for the parties and the taxpaying public.
Finally, my years of experience have taught me that clients agonize over delays and want to be able to move on with their lives. I will solve the challenge of delayed judicial decisions by promptly rendering decisions on cases within days after they are heard when the facts are fresh in my mind; always remembering the principle that justice delayed is justice denied.
3.If you could change one thing about the court system today, what would it be?
I believe balance is incredibly important for our court system and it is an absolute prerequisite to being an effective judge. The mere mention of the court system conjures up the scales of justice in most of our minds; we implicitly expect balance from our courts. That is what I can provide for this court.
A judge must balance the equities within a particular case, but more broadly must also balance all of the types of cases that come before the court. This court handles a wide variety of cases including civil litigation, probate and CPS cases. A judge can’t afford to lavish attention on one type of case at the expense of another, each case that comes before the judge deserves to be treated as the most important case at that moment. If too much time is spent on one type of case the balance is lost and some cases are inevitably neglected. I will ensure that each case, and each type of case, receives the time, attention and dedication of this court.
4.Tell readers a little about yourself.
I am a fifth generation Ellis County native and a third generation Ellis County attorney. I grew up in Waxahachie and graduated from Waxahachie High School in 1984. I graduated from Southern Methodist University with an undergraduate degree in business and graduate degree in law. I am also a graduate of Yale University with an MBA degree.
Since 1991, I have represented clients from every background throughout Ellis County. I have extensive experience in the types of cases assigned to this court. In my 19 years of practice, I have helped thousands of clients successfully resolve their legal matters in core areas of my practice such as civil suits, business and probate matters. I also served as legal counsel for endangered children and their family members in child protection cases.
In my free time I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, running, hiking, traveling and reading. I have been extremely active within the community and enjoy initiating and completing projects that benefit our community.
5.What are your greatest accomplishments you have completed while in office? Are there things you would still like to see done? If so, what are they and how are you going to work to see these happening?
I have been very involved in leadership roles in public service organizations. I have chaired six different community non-profit groups. They include the Chamber of Commerce, serving as an Elder in my church and creating the corporation that designed and built the Waxahachie Civic Center and the 100 acre sports complex which benefit our entire county.
I will bring my leadership skills to this court to serve the public. I will ensure that this court is efficient, that taxpayer costs are substantially reduced and that judicial decisions are timely rendered. I would appreciate your vote.