Public Invited to Free Screening of "American Winter" (November 7, 2013)

DALLAS – The Dallas County Democratic Party invites the public to a free screening and panel of “American Winter”, the newest film from the Emmy award-winning Gantz Brothers (HBO’s "Taxicab Confessions") about the status and future of the American Middle Class, called "too compelling to ignore" and "powerful and timely." This summer, families from the film were invited to Washington, D.C., to share their experiences with foreclosure, food insecurity and job loss at a hearing on the future of the middle class with Senators Jeff Merkley and Elizabeth Warren.

Who:
Dallas County Democratic Party
Filmmaker Harry Gantz
UT Southwestern and Children's Medical Center Dallas' Dr. Glenn Flores

What:
Free screening and panel discussion of “American Winter”. Tickets are free, registration is required, https://americanwinter-dcdp.eventbrite.com

When
Monday, November 18, 2013, 7:00 – 9:30 p.m.; doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Where:
Dallas Angelika Film Center, 5321 East Mockingbird Lane, Dallas, Texas 75206

Note
Filmmaker Harry Gantz will join host Krys Boyd for KERA 90.1’s “Think”, Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Local Democrats Protect Homeowners (August 29, 2013)

Judge’s Courtroom Experiences Led to Law Championed by Sen. Royce West and Rep. Rafael Anchía

DALLAS – Starting next week, September 1, Texas homeowners in the stressful and sometimes confusing situation of home foreclosure will have new protections thanks to the teamwork of Judge Martin Hoffman of the Dallas County 68th Judicial District Court, State Senator Royce West and State Representative Rafael Anchía.

Previously, if mortgage companies improperly submitted forms, or homeowners did not understand documents provided, judges had limited discretion in deciding whether to grant foreclosure. More worrisome, mortgage companies only needed to send notices to district clerks, who then sent a notice to a homeowner, without proof that papers were served at a correct address. Judge Hoffman was concerned that these rules limited judges’ ability to decide these cases fairly and suggested legislation to restore hearings and the right to order mediation. House Bill 2978, adopted in the 83rd Legislature's regular session, remedies problems by allowing judges the discretion to hold hearings and order mediation in expedited foreclosures and allows mortgage companies to personally serve court papers so that people don't lose their homes without knowing they are in foreclosure.

Initial opposition to the changes for due process and adequate notice was dropped after successful negotiations concerning timeliness and cost. Months later, time ran out on the first versions of the bills, written by Judge Hoffman and carried by Rep. Anchía and Sen. West in their respective chambers. Senator West shepherded the substance of the bills into HB 2978.

"Senator West, through this effort, was able to pass the rules championed by Judge Hoffman into a new law that will surely prove vital to assisting those in need, the ability to try and save their homes when they find themselves the subject of an expedited foreclosure," said Ryan Lee, who worked as General Counsel for the Senate Jurisprudence Committee during the 83rd regular session.

"With the support of local judges, members of the legislature, and the cooperation of Texas’ banker and home associations we were able to pass legislation that clears up much of the uncertainty surrounding the use of mediation in expedited foreclosure proceedings," said Rep. Anchía. "HB 2978 clarifies when and how mediation can be used in expedited foreclosure proceedings, allowing homeowners an opportunity to avoid foreclosure and fulfill their obligations," he said.

Because of these reforms, the Texas Attorneys Mediators Coalition awarded Judge Hoffman "Trial Judge of the Year" for the State of Texas and proclaimed Senator West their "Legislator of the Year".

Judge Hoffman is proud of these new changes. "HB 2978 again gives homeowners a voice in the foreclosure process, while still allowing these foreclosures to be handled expeditiously and fairly to all parties," he said. 

Dallas County Joins Voter ID Lawsuit Against Texas (August 20, 2013) 

DALLAS – Today the Dallas County Commissioners Court voted to join the federal lawsuit filed by North Texas Congressman Marc Veasey and other elected officials and voters to stop the enforcement of Texas’ discriminatory photo Voter ID law. 

“This terrible law has been stuck down by the DOJ and then later denounced for ‘strict unforgiving burdens on the poorand racial minorities in Texas’ – nothing has changed,” said Taylor Holden, Dallas County Democratic Party Executive Director. “Perry and Abbott are not interested in electoral integrity, they simply want to restrict access to voting,” she said.

Last year, the Texas Secretary of State’s office did not find matching driver licenses or state-issued photo IDs for 2.4 million Texas voters, including 220,000 Dallas County voters. Dallas County has Department of Public Safety ID-issuing offices, but none in the southeastern quadrant of Dallas County, where many minority and poor voters live.

Despite claims to the contrary, Voter ID comes at a high cost. Voters must take time off work, travel and pay for the legal documents that are prerequisites to obtaining the state’s “free” photo Voter ID. Birth certificates can cost between $8 and $25. Marriage licenses, required for married women whose birth certificates include a maiden name, can cost between $8 and $20. To compare, in today’s dollars, the notorious poll tax would be $10.64.   

We are proud of the Commissioners Court for their courageous action in support of sacred voting rights, which are as important as public health and public works.

Media roundup:

Dallas Morning News: "Dallas County taxpayers will fund both sides of voter ID fight"

Burnt Orange Report: "Dallas County Joins Marc Veasey in Fight Against Voter ID Law"

Good Old Boy Republicans Are the Real Dinosaurs (August 12, 2013)

DALLAS – Today’s Dallas Morning News says white male Democrats in the Texas Legislature are becoming "nearly extinct". For years, Republican gerrymandering packed Democrats into minority districts for their own political advantage and it comes as no surprise that Republican policies are unappealing to women and minorities, who have no qualms electing people representative of the makeup of Texas.

Dallas County Republican Party Chair Wade Emmert took a swipe at our national party and talked about extremes.

“If Emmert thinks that allowing women and people of color into positions of leadership is a move sharply to the left, it's only because his party jumped into a ditch on the right side of the road,” said Taylor Holden, Dallas County Democratic Party Executive Director.

Republicans in Texas have a strong good old boy mentality, while we welcome the participation of every color, gender and orientation. 

Taylor Holden Joins Team as Executive Director (July 30, 2013)

DALLAS – Taylor Holden, a Texas Hill Country native, is coming back to Dallas to join the Dallas County Democratic Party as executive director. She will lead our small professional staff and hundreds of volunteers.

"We are pleased to have Taylor return to Dallas and do for the county party what she did for President Obama's campaign," said Darlene Ewing, Dallas County Democratic Party Chair. "She is knowledgeable, hard-working and passionate, which will enhance what we have accomplished in Dallas and continue to help us grow," Ewing said.

Holden has years of volunteer and professional campaign experience. Most recently in 2012, she worked for President Obama’s reelection campaign in the role of North Texas Regional Field Director, focusing her work primarily in Dallas County.

Her work on various campaigns, including those led by the Democratic National Committee and Battleground Texas, left her with a firm belief in the power of grassroots organizing and the importance of coalition building within and across communities. Holden will join us in mid-December, but is taking on several exciting new party projects in the meantime, traveling to Dallas frequently. 

Ms. Holden made the following statement about her return: 

"Dallas County became my home last year during my work for the President's reelection, and I can't wait to come back. There is incredible progressive work taking place in Dallas, and I am excited and honored to be a part of it. Together, we're going to engage our supporters and expand our base through voter registration and education, and run grassroots programs that tap into new communities that make Dallas County great. We're going to keep our county blue and we're going to have a great time doing it." 

John R. Ames Chosen President of Tax Collector Association (July 17, 2013)

DALLAS - Dallas County Tax Assessor/Collector John R. Ames attended the 79th annual conference of the Tax Assessor-Collector Association (TACA) of Texas where he was unanimously elected by fellow County Tax Assessors to serve as the President-Elect for this statewide organization. He will assume the role of President at the next annual conference in June 2014 that will be held in Fort Worth.

Dallas County has never before been represented on the TACA board and the Dallas County Tax Assessor has never before served as the president of this statewide association. Mr. Ames represents the largest county on the board and will bring a large county perspective when discussions are held that will influence operations, efficiencies and improvements in the Tax Office operations statewide.

Congratulations to Mr. Ames. 

Judge Wilmoth and Representative Anchía Worked to Give New Protections to Guardians (June 17, 2013)

DALLAS – Probate courts in Texas will soon be able to keep confidential the whereabouts of people who need to create a guardianship but who are also protected by domestic violence protective orders. Judge Chris Wilmoth of Dallas County Probate Court 2 drafted the provision that State Representatives Rafael Anchía and Elliott Naishtat sponsored in the Texas House. The proposal was incorporated into H.B. 2080. The bill passed the House and Senate and was signed by the governor at the end of the 2013 regular session.

Before Judge Wilmoth's initiative, Texas law required an applicant to disclose the address of a proposed ward and proposed guardian, and made no exceptions for the victims of domestic violence. The proposed ward's address is needed so that a sheriff's deputy or constable can serve process on the proposed ward. The proposed guardian's address is used in connection with a background check and supervision of the guardianship. Understandably, people protected by domestic violence protective orders would prefer not to tell their abusers where they could be found.

"There was an important gap in the law complicating efforts to protect people. It was an obvious change that was needed," said Judge Wilmoth. "The city of Dallas and Dallas County have made a major push in the area of domestic violence, and I am very honored to have worked with Representative Anchía to add to that effort."

Borrowing from procedures already in place in family court, the new legislation allows an applicant to omit the addresses of persons who are being protected by a family violence protective order. Those addresses will be maintained by the court in a nonpublic file. Working with the applicant, the courts will enter orders to govern issuance and service of citation and service of pleadings in the course of the guardianship proceedings.

Under the new law, applicants are required to attach a copy of the domestic violence protective order to qualify for the confidential treatment of home addresses. The law also prohibits those restrained by a domestic violence protective order from serving as guardians.

Judge Canas and Probation Staff Examine Best Practices in Detroit Domestic Violence Courts (June 13, 2013)

DALLAS – Dallas County Criminal Court 10's Judge Rob Canas and his probation staff traveled to Detroit this week to examine the Detroit domestic violence court's practice of reviewing offenders in small groups instead of as individuals. Dallas County Criminal Court 10 is one of the county's two dedicated domestic violence courts.

"Currently in Dallas County we monitor individuals rather than groups," said Judge Canas. "The Detroit courts review individuals in groups, which allows more high-risk offenders to be monitored." Judge Canas added that the method used in Detroit has been shown to reduce recidivism rates. His court will continue to investigate and consider the change if it will enhance offender accountability and the safety of victims and their children.

Judge Canas' court has been named as one of only three "Mentor Courts" in the United States by the U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women. This status signifies that Judge Canas' court is used as an example for best practices by other domestic violence courts around the country. Judge Canas was instrumental in restoring $400,000 in funding for Dallas County from the U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women, which had been lost under his predecessor.

Judge Canas recently joined the faculty of the National Judicial Institute on Domestic Violence. In this capacity, Judge Canas will be training other judges all over the country on domestic violence legal issues. This year, Mosaic Family Services named Judge Canas the 2013 Champion of Human Rights. He is the recipient of multiple awards from domestic violence organizations.

Perry Veto of Bipartisan "Lilly Ledbetter" Texas Fair Pay Act (June 14, 2013)

Statement from DCDP Chair Darlene Ewing

Just ten days ago the Texas Republican Party announced they'd spend millions of dollars on outreach to youth and minority voters -- half of those newly targeted voters will be women. Telling Texas women that they are not entitled to fair pay is a hypocritical way to start that outreach. Governor Perry's veto is another assault in the Republican Party's war against women.

Media Advisory: Seventh Annual Jefferson Jackson Dinner (April 17, 2013)

Dallas Democrats to Honor County Elected Officials

DALLAS – Democrats will gather next Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m., to honor Dallas County elected officials at the Seventh Annual Jefferson Jackson Dinner, benefiting the Dallas County Democratic Party, which is working on yet another county sweep Who: Paul Begala, Keynote Speaker, political commentator and contributor to CNN, The Huffington Post and The Daily Beast and chief strategist for the 1992 Clinton-Gore campaign. Darlene Ewing, Dallas County Democratic Party Chair

What: Seventh Annual Jefferson Jackson Dinner. Individual tickets available via the Dallas County Democratic Party website, www.dallasdemocrats.org

When: Wednesday, April 24, 2013 6:30 p.m., dinner

Where: Hyatt Regency Dallas, Marquis Ballroom 300 Reunion Boulevard, Dallas 75207

Judge Callahan to be Honored with the 2013 Louise Raggio Women's Legal Advocate Award (April 12, 2013)

DALLAS  – Judge Tena Callahan of the 302nd Family District Court will receive the 2013 Louise Raggio Women's Legal Advocate Award on May 14th at the 13th Annual Women's Advocacy Awards, organized by Legal Aid of Northwest Texas.

Only three awards are presented each year.  In addition to Judge Callahan's award, Legal Aid will present Business Leader and Non-Profit Leader Awards at the ceremony.  Judge Callahan is currently in her second term presiding over one of Dallas County's seven dedicated family courts.  Learn more atwww.judgecallahan.com.

"I am honored to be recognized by a group that, for decades, has been doing important work in the community," said Judge Callahan.  "I continue to strive to be the best Judge I can be, because I care about families, husbands, wives and especially the children who are often caught in the middle of domestic conflicts."

Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas provides free legal aid to low-income women seeking safety, security, and lives free of domestic violence and abuse.  The organization's services have benefited more than 1 million client families in the past 60 years, including many domestic violence victims.  Learn more at www.lanwt.org.

Firearms Tax-free Holiday Comes at High Cost (March 4, 2013)

DALLAS – North Texas Republican lawmaker Jeff Leach’s proposal for a tax-free holiday for firearms ignores reality.

“Who knew the State of Texas’ bank account was bursting at the seams?” asked Dallas County Democratic Party Chair Darlene Ewing. “Republican leadership can’t find the money to pay for our public schools, Medicaid expansion and the Women’s Health Program – all necessities, but here’s a guy who finds money for more guns,” she said.

A number of gun related bills have been filed in this session, including guns on university campuses that do not want them, turning principals, teachers and other educators into first responders called “armed marshals”, and now this anti-tax, pro-weapon day on Texas Independence Day.

“News reports mentioning our neighboring state of Louisiana’s tax-free weapon holiday put the cost to their state at $600,000,” said Marsha McCartney, president of the North Texas chapter of the Brady Campaign. “Texas has nearly quintuple Louisiana’s population – that means five times as many, in case Rep. Leach isn’t aware.” 

Which Texans will ultimately pay for this program – students, seniors, and the sick? Texas can’t afford this irresponsible tax-free holiday.

Dallas County Democratic and Republican Parties Endorse Mayor Mike Rawlings’ Men Against Abuse Rally (February 26, 2013)

DALLAS – Leaders of Dallas County’s Democratic and Republican Parties wholeheartedly endorse next month’s Men Against Abuse Rally to end domestic violence in Dallas.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings is calling for 10,000 men to join him at City Hall Plaza at 10:00 a.m., Saturday, March 23, and pledge the following: to never commit an act of violence against women, hold abusive men accountable for their actions, to promote domestic violence awareness, educate young women in their lives to never accept violence in a relationship, and teach young men that violence is never an acceptable way to express anger or displeasure.

Dallas County’s Democratic Party Chair Darlene Ewing and Republican Party Chair Wade Emmert are troubled by the startling statistics of domestic violence in Dallas, with 13,000 incidents last year, including 26 murders, more than double the year before, and four already this year.

“Despite our political differences, we can all agree that crossing party lines and speaking out about this epidemic is the right thing to do,” Mr. Emmert said.

“I represent domestic violence survivors in my private law practice and I’m excited about this effort because I want these crimes to be a rarity,” Ms. Ewing said.

Mr. Emmert and Ms. Ewing are encouraging their precinct chairs and grassroots club members to attend the rally and take Mayor Rawlings’ pledges against domestic violence.

Democrats to Take Oath of Office on New Year's Day (December 21, 2012)

DALLAS – Democratic Dallas County Elected Officials will take the oath of office in a celebration open to the public on Tuesday, January 1, 2013, at the Dallas Hyatt. Democrats will celebrate the four-peat of a Democratic sweep in countywide offices and look happily toward another year of innovation and efficiency at a lower cost to the county's taxpayers.

Individual tickets are available for a $45 donation via the Dallas County Democratic Party website and the ticket donation deadline is Thursday, December 28.

"Our congressional, state and local elected officials do more for less," said Darlene Ewing, Dallas County Democratic Party Chair. "I'm proud of newly elected officials Phyllis-Lyster Brown, Dominque Collins and Teresa Daniel -- the district, criminal and county commissioner's courts will be better for the elections of these capable, intelligent women," she said.

Hundreds are expected to attend the swearing-in ceremony. The South Oak Cliff High School ROTC will serve as Color Guard and Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts music cluster students will perform.

Judge Chris Wilmoth Featured in Dallas Bar Association's Headnotes (December 13, 2012)
DALLAS - Democratic Judge Chris Wilmoth of Dallas County Probate Court 2 is featured in this month's edition of the Dallas Bar Association's Headnotes publication. Judge Wilmoth was first elected in November 2010 and is seeking his second term. An excerpt of the Headnotes article is below:

A Houston native, Judge Chris Wilmoth, Judge of Dallas County Probate Court No. 2, first moved to Dallas 25 years ago when he enrolled at Southern Methodist University for college. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa and entering the work force, he returned to SMU’s Dedman School of Law and again graduated with high honors.

Judge Wilmoth secured a coveted clerkship with the Honorable Jorge A. Solis, an experience that has proven instrumental in his professional trajectory. He joined Baker Botts as a litigator in 2003 and handled a variety of complex litigation and major bankruptcy matters. Those bankruptcy matters afforded him extensive estate-related experience.

He also performed more than 600 hours of pro bono work on top of his busy docket of cases and extensive community involvement during his tenure there. His former colleagues spoke highly of both his work and his corporate citizenship.

Integrity and intellect were the two traits that immediately came to the mind of Tim Durst, a litigation partner at Baker Botts, who mentored Judge Wilmoth during the latter’s seven years in private practice. “I have great confidence that he will call the balls and strikes as he sees them with impartiality,” Mr. Durst said, “and he has the intellectual horsepower to be able to understand even the most complicated legal wrinkle that could come before him.”

Read the full article online here.

Judge Martin Hoffman is a Credit to the Judicial Profession (December 10, 2012)

Hoffman called “the gold standard” for mentoring and community service
DALLAS – Civil District Court Judge Martin Hoffman is serving his second term since taking the oath of office on January 1, 2007. Colleagues and former mentees call Hoffman an ambassador for our justice system, "the gold standard for mentorship and community service". His dedication is recognized locally and statewide.

Hoffman's innovative work in the 68th District Court is saving homes and saving lives. His "4M Foreclosure Fairness Program" is the result of determining that homes could be saved and mortgage companies paid, while giving homeowners a voice during the foreclosure process for home equity loans. The name comes from the following "M" words -- monitoring, in which both parties are given an opportunity to speak with the judge, mentoring of homeowners from HUD-approved credit counselors, mediation with specially trained mediators and modification of existing loans. Left without other options, a recent program graduate praised Hoffman saying, “I am not homeless today because of your forward leadership.”

Elsewhere in the courthouse, Judge Hoffman serves as Presiding Judge of the George Allen Courthouse Central Jury Room. The courthouse’s other twenty-two judges bestowed the honor, and upon taking the post in 2009, Hoffman, with Judge Marty Lowy, implemented new jury services software, modernizing registration and new juror training.

All this work is done more efficiently and at a lesser cost to Dallas County taxpayers. Under Judge Hoffman's leadership, the 68th District Court has increased the number of hearings on the docket, cutting wait time for parties by half, and lowered pending case loads and costs per disposition.

Outside the courthouse, 10,000 members of the Dallas Bar Association have twice elected Hoffman to the Dallas Bar Board of Directors. Hoffman is a recognized leader in the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers and the Texas Young Lawyers Association, among others. He is the recipient of the Texas Young Lawyers Association's 2012 Outstanding Mentor of Texas Award, honored for his unparalleled role in the Dallas legal profession, mentoring judicial interns and educating Dallas Independent School District high school students about the legal system. Judge Hoffman historically and consistently accepts many interns, offering day-to-day legal expertise, advocacy for legal education and works to integrate his interns into the Dallas legal community.

"Judge Hoffman says yes to innovation and hard work," said Darlene Ewing, Dallas County Democratic Party Chair. "His heart is in the right place -- insuring passion and drive in the next generation of Dallas legal leaders and he's in the right place, serving Dallas County's 68th District Court," she said.

Hoffman will run for reelection in November 2014.

Trailblazer Valdez Has Made the Dallas County Sheriff's Department a Model for the Nation (October 25, 2012) Sheriff Lupe Valdez deserves another term

DALLAS – Sheriff Lupe Valdez has made Dallas County safer and her department more accountable to county families and taxpayers.“As Sheriff, I’ve worked day and night to increase efficiency at the Sheriff’s Department and county jail while saving taxpayers money,” said Valdez. “My team and I have accomplished both of these objectives while decreasing the crime rate in our community.” “If re-elected, I will continue to build on our record of success,” she said.

After inheriting a department in disarray and an unsafe, overpopulated county jail in violation of standards of justice, Valdez reformed her department, partnered with the Dallas County District Attorney and County Probation Department to increase enforcement of warrants, removing dangerous individuals from Dallas neighborhoods and has brought the jail into compliance with all state and federal laws.

“Thanks to Lupe, we are a safer county,” said Darlene Ewing, Dallas County Democratic Party Chair. “Gone are the days of jail overcrowding. That’s real tax dollar savings and means that space is available for truly dangerous criminals. She deserves another term,” Ewing said.

Sheriff Valdez is the second female elected sheriff in the State of Texas. Sheriff Valdez has worked in law enforcement for more than 30 years at both the federal and state levels.