(Wahlberg is a candidate for the 167th District Court in Travis County. We welcome all candidates across Texas to post diaries introducing themselves to our readers. - promoted by Katherine Haenschen)
Thirty five years of practicing law in Austin has shown me the need for judges who care enough to consider all court participants as individual human beings and to vigorously protect our constitutional system. I am running to replace my long-time friend, Judge Mike Lynch, who is retiring from the 167th District Court, one of our criminal felony courts.
We need a judge who is well qualified, who will be independent, and who shares our community values.
My family moved to Austin in 1959 when my father became Bishop of the Lutheran church for Texas and Louisiana. My mother not only raised four children but was a published author. For many years our family served as a foster-family for children awaiting adoption, and my parents still live in the Allandale neighborhood where I graduated from McCallum High School. I am proud of my parents and the values they instilled in me, but the important issue is how those values have shaped my life: for my entire career I have chosen to protect people and to preserve our constitutional rights.
Immediately after graduating from UT Law School, I opened an office with several classmates. Early in my career I handled a variety of civil and criminal cases but soon concentrated on criminal defense. I have worked hard to achieve a high level of competence in criminal law and have been a board certified specialist in criminal law for 23 years. I still work diligently to provide my clients strong and effective representation, and I have handled thousands of criminal cases, including hundreds as a court-appointed lawyer. I have successfully tried criminal jury trials in state and federal courts. I am also proud to give back to my profession: I was a founding member of the Austin Criminal Defense Lawyers Association and speak regularly at continuing education seminars. I have been honored by Texas Monthly as a "Texas Super Lawyer."
Real justice requires a level playing field. That means a judge must be independent. Historically, our criminal district judges have come from the district attorney's office. It's understandable that a career devoted to prosecution and the relationships developed over many years of working with police and prosecutors will be reflected in someone's outlook and judgement. You only need look to the actions of Ken Anderson and John Bradley in Williamson County, however, to find an example of the dangers of the judge and prosecution being closely allied. There is a clear choice in this race: I am a career defense lawyer; both of my opponents are career prosecutors. We need someone on the bench who will be fair, who values our constitutional rights, and who will not be influenced by his relationships with police and prosecutors.
As an Austinite for more than 50 years, I value the qualities that make our city unique and have long been a member of environmental and civil rights organizations, such as the Sierra Club and the ACLU.
Please visit my website for more information. Meanwhile, I hope BOR will serve as a forum for me to communicate with Austin activists. Thirty five years of practicing law has taught me the importance of listening, so I look forward to hearing from you and discussing your concerns about our criminal justice system. I ask for your support in the coming months and for your vote in the primary election in April.