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CANDIDATE QUESTIONS

The Ellis County Press

February 18, 2010

 

Judge Greg Wilhelm

ELLIS COUNTY COURT AT LAW NO. 1

 

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1.   Why do you want this seat and if already elected, why would you want to continue serving?

 

I am running for another term as Judge of the Ellis County Court at Law No. 1 because I have a deep and genuine commitment to public service.  I am dedicated to serving my community.  This commitment is founded not only in the conservative, Christian values of my upbringing, but is fostered by my desire to apply the law and the Constitution from the standpoint of Original Intent and the perspective of the Founding Fathers.

 

I also have a passion for the protection of children who are the subject of abuse and neglect.  I promote preservation of the family, as well as, care of the elderly and the infirmed.  The Ellis County Court at Law No. 1 deals with all of these issues – and more.  I believe that the future of Ellis County, as well as, that of our State and our Nation, depends upon each of us facing, and fighting, those factors and forces which undermine the integrity of the family. 

 

For too many years, courts and local governments have taken the position that quick hearings and quick resolution of child-related cases is best for everyone.  The problem with this philosophy is that it is a short-sited view of a long-term problem, which may close a case and save dollars today, but  postpones, for tomorrow, a growing and festering problem which if left unresolved, more times than not, translates to future costs and additional taxpayer burdens

 

Ellis County is blessed to have elected leaders who have been dedicated to providing pro-active and significant support to the courts and those organizations advocating for the best interests of children.  Instead of seeking short-term and shortsighted gains, our citizens and Commissioners have remained steadfast in steering away from national trends of cutting funds supporting the long-term protection of children.  Such foresight clearly fosters true “Homeland Security” for these most defenseless of citizens.

 

Additionally, I have a track record of commitment to the citizens and business owners of Ellis County.  Few counties in the state exist where litigants – if they so desire – can obtain prompt court settings and timely resolution of cases, such as in Ellis County.  As the presiding judge of the County Court at Law No. 1, I have supported and promoted this practice, which I believe serves the best interests of all parties, attorneys, and, most importantly, the taxpayers.

 

Furthermore, despite our desire for the rapid resolution of a civil or probate matter, prompt resolutions for the sake of numbers is an unwise policy for any court.  The often coined phrase “bad facts makes bad law” is true, and it is equally true that inadequate and weak Trial Court rulings – when punted to an appellate court for the sake of expediency or presumed cost savings – makes for bad legal precedent and serves as an injustice to citizens  who seek relief through the court system. 

 

Each matter that comes to me as judge receives the necessary time and attention that it needs and deserves in order to best resolve the case in a constitutional, impartial, fair, and just manner.  I remain committed to the prompt resolution and disposition of cases, but will not do so solely for the purpose of convenience or for the attainment of high disposition numbers.  I have a duty to remain loyal to the Constitution and to ensure that the rights guaranteed under our Constitution are afforded to each citizen of this County.

 

My commitment to Ellis County is genuine and it remains steadfast.

 

2.   What are your three platform issues?

 

Proven Judicial Experience & Proven Conservative Judicial Philosophy: I am the only candidate in the race for the County Court at Law No. 1 who has the judicial experience and judicial training in the areas of law that are heard by this Court and I am loyal to the Rule of Law, to our State and U.S. Constitutions, through which all matters must be examined.

 

Proven Devotion:  Focused on the welfare of your family, local businesses, and our community.

 

Proven Protection of the Defenseless:  Looking out for the abused and neglected children, the indigent, and elderly citizens of Ellis County.

 

3.      If you could change one thing about the court system, today, what would it be? 

 

Many of my judicial colleagues, like myself, aspire to finding a balance between improved efficiency in operating court dockets without sacrificing the personal rights of the parties who come before the bench seeking justice.  It is a difficult task but one that, on an ongoing basis, I continue to seek ways to improve.

 

As the presiding judge of the County Court at Law No. 1, my recent efforts at efficient management of the court and the County’s resources, supported by the legal tenor of the cases filed – during the six (6) month period from September 1, 2009 to February 1, 2010 (as compared to the same time period in 2008 – 2009) – have resulted in a savings of approximately $60,000.00 to Ellis County taxpayers. 

 


4.   Tell the readers a little bit about yourself.

 

I was reared in Western Texas and graduated high school in East Texas.  My Father worked most of his life in law enforcement, and then as a state prison guard.  My Mother was primarily a homemaker, working at other jobs while my sister and I were in school.  In 1982, I graduated with a business degree from Baylor University, and worked in the private business sector for a number of years.  In 1995, I entered graduate school at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and earned a Law Degree and a Masters Degree in Public Policy.

 

I operated a successful Ellis County and Dallas County law practice for several years, in which I dedicated a substantial amount of time to providing legal services to businesses, families, children, and the elderly.  I also served on the boards of private business entities. As a private practitioner, I handled complex civil and commercial litigation matters successfully without the need for protracted litigation.  I was able to effectively resolve many of my clients’ cases, which meant that my clients were able to forego the financial and emotional expense of a Jury Trial. 

 

Additionally, I managed complex probate, trust, and estate matters, including the creation and drafting of detailed, effective, and efficient estate plans which allowed parents and grandparents to protect and preserve their estates, not only for their own futures, but also for those of their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

 

Furthermore, I invested a large portion of my law practice in the representation of children and parents involved in child protective services cases.  I gained unequalled experience in the representation of children who were victims of some of the most horrific acts of physical, and sexual, abuse and neglect.  I was also specially appointed by the court to confer with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office regarding a child pornography ring, of which a portion extended into Ellis County. 

 

Some of the child victims of abuse were reunified with their families, while others were given new lives through the blessing of adoption – both of which were the most rewarding aspects of my private practice. 

 

I have been married to Monica Wilhelm since 1990; and, we have two amazing children, Eliana and Jared. 

 

I am a member of the State Bar of Texas; College of the State Bar of Texas; the Ellis County Bar Association; the County Court at Law Judges Association; the Texas CPS Judges Association; the Texas Bar’s Judicial Section, Litigation Section, Family Law Section, Real Estate Trust and Probate Section and Business Law Section; and a former member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association legal services plan.

 

My personal interests/hobbies include: time with family; reading; writing; American & Texas History; Statesmanship; fishing & hunting; shooting sports; auto mechanics; and, the restoration of antique and classic automobiles.

 

 

5.   What are your greatest accomplishments you have accomplished while in office?  Are there things you would still like to be seen done?  If so, what are they and how are you going to work to see these happening?

 

My greatest accomplishments, to date, have been in connection with overseeing cases in which families – once torn apart by the nightmare and trauma of child abuse and neglect – have been reunified (parent and child) or reunited, in a larger sense, where children are given permanency with extended family members who are stable and protective, but where the parent continues to have positive contact and access to their child.  I believe it is important to break vicious cycles of abuse and neglect, whenever, wherever, or however possible, so that today’s CPS children do not become tomorrow’s juvenile delinquents, CPS parents, or convicted felons and a financial burden to society.

 

For the future, I believe I have an ethical and administrative obligation to continue to embrace a long-term vision and commitment to the wise financial management of our County’s resources.  For example, in connection with CPS-related cases, I have examined, and continue to examine, alternatives that can be considered and implemented, such as, the feasibility of a Public Defender’s Office and/or the option of retaining fixed-fee contract attorneys to represent a majority of parents and children in CPS cases.        Additionally, as a private practitioner I learned that it was often the best practice to try to resolve my clients’ cases without the need for protracted and costly litigation.  As the presiding judge of the County Court at Law No. 1, I have already implemented several changes in the administration of cases and am committed to seeking more avenues for improving operation of the Court. 

 

Additionally, I have enacted a number of significant case and financial management improvements, which include, but are not limited to, expansion of the Child Protective Services (CPS) Case Caucus Program; referral to private mediation of a growing number of civil lawsuits; expedited Child Protection hearings; preservation of the Early Intervention CPS Case Management System; and expansion of the appointment of volunteer guardians in child and elder cases. 

 

It is my goal and commitment to remain a good steward of the position to which I have been elected and to continue to implement additional case and financial management improvements. 

 

 


6.   Any additional comments?

 

Ellis County has been my home for a majority of the past two decades.  I am a proud resident and public servant of this community.  My dedication to serving was founded not only in the conservative, Christian values of my upbringing, but was fostered by my desire to learn and apply the law, the Constitution, and public policy from the standpoint of Original Intent and the perspective of the Founding Fathers.  I desire to have the support of the voters and a continued opportunity to continue to serve them as judge of the County Court at Law No. 1.  

 

Regarding the issue of court appointed attorney fees, the tax dollars spent on attorneys who represent children and parents (in CPS cases) are invested in a manner which committed to protecting the constitutional rights of the respondent parents, while preserving the legal rights and promoting the best interests of the child or children.

 

As stated above, as judge of County Court at Law No. 1, my recent efforts at efficient management of the court and the County’s resources (supported by the legal tenor of the cases filed) – during the six (6) month period from September 1, 2009 to February 1, 2010, as compared to the same time period in 2008-2009 – have resulted in approximately $60,000.00 in savings to Ellis County taxpayers.

 

All things remaining the same, if the savings reported above are projected forward on an equal basis from September 1, 2009, through the end of the next elected term (encompassing a total of five (5) years and four (4) months), the taxpayers of Ellis County will realized a savings of $640,000.00!

 

Because I possess an ethical and administrative obligation to embrace a long-term vision and commitment to the wise financial management of County resources, it is my belief that my record demonstrates that, to date, I have met that obligation (and will continue to do so), without sacrificing or jeopardizing the constitutionally protected rights of each citizen that comes before me seeking justice.  

 

If one of the goals is to have a judge who can cut or save taxpayer dollars – while continuing to serve children and parents on a level equal to, or better, than has existed thus far – which can then be returned to the taxpayers or made available to the Commissioner for use in other needed area, I would ask the voters of Ellis County to make the wise choice, and return me to office as their judge of the County Court at Law No.1.   

 

For more information about me, and my campaign, please visit www.GregWilhelm.com.


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