Judge Steven Kirkland Harris County 215th Civil District Court totally engaged in “Job of Learning”

When people think about a judge they often think of a stern, black-robed figure who does a lot more talking and reprimanding than he does listening (think Judge Chamberlain Haller played by the late Fred Gwynne in My Cousin Vinny). That’s why Harris County jurors find it refreshing to perform their civic duty in the 215th Civil District Court, presided over by Judge Steven Kirkland.

During a July 2011 event launching Judge Kirkland’s re-election campaign he described his position as Judge of the 215th as a “job of learning.”  What Judge Kirkland was referring to was the Judge’s continuing role as a student of the law who looks to the attorneys in his courtroom to educate him regarding the specific laws in play in a given case.

Those who have had little exposure to civil lawsuits may imagine a judge to be all knowing, and think it’s the judge’s job to know the law and tell the lawyers what the law is.  Well of course a judge can’t possibly know each and every law and statute in the State of Texas or have instant recall of every appellate opinion or Texas Supreme Court case interpreting the law.  The reality is a judge has to rely on the lawyers involved in a case to research the applicable law and then educate the judge on that law.  Or put another way, part of a Judge’s job is to listen and learn.

Simply put, Steven Kirkland gets that. Judge Kirkland serves the citizens of Harris County efficiently and effectively by expecting the lawyers appearing before him to be prepared, know the law and discuss it with him, all in the interest of keeping the particular case moving along.  This keeps the trial docket moving in the 215th District Court, which is good for all.

Prior to taking the bench of the 215th District Court in 2008, Judge Kirkland served as a Judge in the Houston Municipal Court system for 8-years and has presided over 800 plus jury trials in his career, a huge number.  In Judge Kirkland’s view, anyone called for civil jury service in Harris County (whether they end up serving on a jury or not) should leave the experience having learned something about the civil justice system.  If you are called for jury service and find yourself in the 215th, Judge Kirkland will make sure you understand who’s who, what’s going on and why.

Judge Steven Kirkland will run for re-election as the incumbent judge of the 215th Civil District Court in November 2012.

Fortunately for Harris County, Judge Steven Kirkland is more of a listener than Fred Gwynne's Judge Chamberlain Haller!