Why Am I Running?
I’m James S. Horwitz, and I’m running for the Judge, Harris County Probate #4, because I think Houston deserves better. Here, on this website, I answer a few questions in order to explain my philosophy and why I'm best qualified to represent you.
What is a Probate Court?
As a result of the efforts of our Texas Legislature, 10 of the 15 largest counties (specifically including Harris County) have Probate Courts. These Probate Courts handle matters of:
What are the responsibilities of the Judge in Probate Court?
In contested matters involving probate with a Will, a Probate Court examines the genuineness of a Will and/or whether the Will was made under duress or that the Will is not the last Will written by the deceased person. It is the job of the Probate Court to decide which Will is authentic. Once that determination is made, the Probate Court appoints an Executor to fulfill the terms of the Will. In many cases, an Executor is named in the Will and the court appoints that person. The Executor then executes the Will according to the deceased person's wishes as stated in his/her Will. When age, diseases, and injuries impact our abilities to be self sufficient, the establishment of a guardianship can occur. A guardianship is a relationship established by a Probate Court between the person who needs help – called a ward – and the person or entity named by the court to help the ward. This person or entity is known as a guardian.
In Texas, a person does not have a guardian until an application to appoint one is filed with the court, a hearing is held and a judge then appoints a guardian. When the court appointment is made, the person the guardian cares for becomes the ward. There are different types of guardianships available in Texas. They are: They are:
In addition to individuals, entities and guardianship programs can be appointed guardians. Guardians have legal responsibilities and are required to perform certain tasks and make reports to the Court while providing assistance to their wards.
The Probate Court should look at the individuals and programs willing to be guardians and base the appointment of guardians on several factors including: a preference to appointing a qualifying family member as guardian rather than guardianship programs or court appointed attorneys.
The Probate Court also should establish how much freedom a ward may have to make his/her own decisions. The Probate Court should decide limitations on a guardian's authority.
Why does it matter who the Judge is?
The Judge must be very familiar with the law and able to rule on legal matters including the admissibility of evidence and the procedures required to conduct trials and hearings. Uncontested matters Will be heard by a judge. Contested matters will be heard by a trier of fact, either the judge alone or by a jury.
If a matter is solely before a judge, the judge is the ultimate decision maker as to the credibility of the evidence presented. In that case no one else has more power than the judge as to the believability of the facts presented. In those instances, the judge is the Supreme Court of the facts and the law of the case since the judge must decide whether testimony is credible. As a judge, that person is an officer and representative of the government. He or she cannot allow personal or religious views to cloud one's judgment. He or she must uphold the law and apply them to all citizens equally.
What makes you different and better qualified to be the Judge?
There are no short cuts to experience and wisdom. I have practiced law for thirty seven (37) years, more than twice as long as my opponent. When I began my legal practice, my opponent hadn't even begun first grade. Experience counts. For thirty-seven years, I have represented thousands of clients in estate planning and probate court as well as at all levels of the civil, criminal, family, and juvenile courts in Harris County, Texas, including also a multitude of other jurisdictions in Texas. Wisdom counts. My sound judgment has been gleaned from nearly four decades of work providing assistance to individuals and their families through my dedication to quality, my understanding of the foibles of people, and my understanding of the law.
My experience and wisdom is the result of many decades of working with the grieving, the divorced, the criminal, and the incompetent - all of which provides me with a unique perspective to understand and address the needs of those that come before me as a judge in probate court.
News + Views
Why I'm running: see the press release >>
More News & Views >>
"Democrats should vote for Newman and Horwitz in the upcoming primary contests."
"Harris County Deserves Better"
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