The Fixer-Uppers: Making Houston’s Judicial System Less Messy

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By Susan Bankston

I am fixing to save your sweet butt. Seriously.

I love Houston as much as the next long-bearded, skinny-jeans hipster, but our Harris County judicial system is a bigger mess than a bushel-basket of wire coat-hangers. It needs fixing from the top to the toes.

Now don’t you be sitting there looking at me all innocent like that. You know for a fact that you’re just one middle finger and one cop away from going to jail on a hot day with heavy traffic in Houston. So don’t be acting like you’ll never need the judicial system. You’re probably sitting there reading this right now in that coffee shop with a cup of latte and your perfectly creased pants, but everybody watching you knows you’ve only got one nerve left, and some ignorant sumbitch is fixing to jump all over it.

So, read this and then go vote. One day, you’ll be glad you did.

Government is like your digestive system. When it’s working properly, you hardly know it’s there. But we know for sure that the Harris County district attorney’s office is there, because they manage to make the front page of newspapers at least weekly—and not for anything good. Honey, that place is Incompetence à la Mode and Screw-up del Día. If locking up rape victims in the damn jail to force them to testify is your cup of tea, then that place is the Boston Harbor in 1773 all over again.

They have misplaced so much case evidence that I’m beginning to believe they could lose a bar of soap inside a washrag. The current DA is in so far over her head that she has to wear scuba gear to the office.

I know someone who can fix that. Democrat Kim Ogg can fix that. Most folks would rather ride a tornado with the harness off than try to clean up the mess in the DA’s office, but Kim’s got the gumption and the smarts to do it. Smarts—and I’m talking double-geared smart. I’m talking Rice University with a 50-pound math book smart. There ain’t no slack in her rope.

She’s a former prosecutor who is more interested in seeking justice for the accused and the victim alike than in filling up jails with low-level drug arrests. She sleeps with one eye open and the other on alert.

Kim Ogg is a native Houstonian who has managerial experience. She is board-certified in criminal law, and currently practicing law at her family’s law firm. Kim and her partner, Olivia Jordan, have one teenage son and a lifetime of being fair and just.

The way I figure it, when you walk into a courthouse, you ought to see some people who look like you and understand your life experiences. If you’re a gay man, especially cute, or a 30-year recovering alcoholic, I’ve found the guy for you.

Steven Kirkland is the son of a truck driver and the first in his family to graduate from college. That means he started from scratch and kept scratching. Today, Steven has 12 years of judicial experience in his back pocket, along with a thermos of fresh hot justice.

Steven is running for judge in the 334th Civil District Court. So if you’re in jail, you won’t get into Steven’s court, but if you need to sue some worthless sumbitch, ya might get to meet him in a courtroom where everybody gets a fair shake and the playing field is level.

Houston Bar Association polls have consistently given Steven high marks for efficiency, hard work, and impartiality. He’s so honest that you can play dice with him over the phone. His integrity has never been questioned.

There are two kinds of people: those willing to work, and those willing to watch other people work. Steven Kirkland is the first kind. Honey, he can stuff two pounds of work in a one-pound sack.

I also want you to meet my friend Fredericka Phillips. I have known her since ducks started going barefoot, and I know that woman has bodacious in her blood. She is a native southeast Texan, born in Beaumont.

Fredericka is running for the 61st District Court. She knows more about law than a rabbit knows about running. She served on the law review at South Texas College of Law and is a single mother of two girls.  She has been practicing law for 15 years.

Do we need her brand of honesty and trustworthiness in the 61st court? Would a 10-foot chicken lay a big egg?

Fredericka is the fairest woman west of any place east, and she works 365 days a month. She is even-tempered, but quick to smile. You need to vote for her.

There are a few more people worthy of your special attention in this election—Daryl Moore for the 333rd District Court, Kelli Johnson for the 178th Criminal District Court, Kyle Carter for the 125th Civil District Court, and Mike Engelhart for 151st District Court.

Early voting starts October 24. Vote early, because you know you—waiting until the last minute never works out.

For the most part, our local judicial system is such a mess that it looks like Willie Nelson held his last Fourth of July picnic there. Your vote can change that—in fact, it’s the only thing that will.

Susan Bankston lives in Richmond, Texas, where she writes about her hairdresser at The World’s Most Dangerous Beauty Salon, Inc., at


Susan Bankston

Susan Bankston lives in Richmond, Texas, where she writes about her hairdresser at The World’s Most Dangerous Beauty Salon, Inc., at
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