Texas has a complicated system of district courts. There are 456 district courts throughout the state; each court has a sole judge. However, court jurisdictions often overlap. Harris County, which includes the city of Houston, is home to 59 different district courts, each of which covers the geography of the entire county. Jefferson County, with Beaumont as its seat, has eight district courts. Attorneys and clients often go to great lengths to ensure particular cases are heard by particular judges.
District court judges are elected to four-year terms. First time candidate Dana Timaeus is the Republican candidate for the 136th District Court, a court long controlled by Democratic judges. “This is a major stepping out for me. This part of Texas is predominantly Democratic. It’s a close-knit county where a small group of Democratic officials have been in office and chosen their successors for a long time.”
Dana was born and raised in Beaumont, graduated from Lamar University and the University of Texas Law School. He worked for a variety of law firms before opening his own practice, which has evolved over time from maritime law to product liability work to medical malpractice to civil cases, mediation, and negotiation. ”I do a very wide variety of problem solving for clients.” In addition, Dana has done considerable legal work for Honduran, El Salvadoran, and Guatemalan refugees. “My point of view is always, how am I going to best serve my clients as they move forward? If I do that, any legal punishment will take care of itself.”
Dana sees running for judge as fundamentally different from running for other political office. “What I see, as a judicial candidate rather than a political candidate with an agenda, is a desire to participate in a rational forum. There are some truths that are based in fact and then there are the people who set up absolutes based on beliefs rather than objective truths.”
Dana considers himself the underdog in this race. He has nothing to lose, but believes that the citizens of Jefferson County are seeking a more objective truth.
How will we live tomorrow?
“I see us living with multifaceted contradictions yet I’m still an optimist. We are indulging personal preferences to society’s limits. That’s why you see so little commonality. Income disparity is growing. We’re building government deficits that will haunt our grandchildren and great-grandchildren. These will have to be faced: it’s only a question of when and who will accept the sacrifice to fix it.
“Politically we are pushing the extremes. People in the middle wonder if there is a middle, or if they have to jump to an extreme.
“There are a lot of people who are angry, and acting on their anger. People see me as a man with a strong value system who’s outside the prevailing political system. People engage me in questions well beyond the scope of judicial decisions as a way of getting to answers that will engage each other and reflect a decent society.”