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Dallas District Court Judge race explained

Incumbent Judge Mary Brown admits a mistake kept her name off the ballot. She, and two other candidates, are vying to have write-in campaigns put them on the bench.

DALLAS — The Dallas County ballot has a long list of judge, clerk, and justice of the peace positions where the incumbents are running unopposed. 

That’s where Mary Brown’s name could have been. But instead, the incumbent family court judge is asking voters to write in her name while opponents, seeing an opportunity, have mounted their own write-in campaigns as well.

“Well, the real fumble was to farm it out. That’s my first mistake,” said Brown, who has served as a judge in the 301st Judicial District since 2015. 

The “mistake” she referred to was hiring a consultant, a common procedure, to gather the signatures of the required 250 registered voters to place her name on the ballot. She said the signatures were submitted prior to the Dec 13, 2021 deadline but that 10 days later a large number of those signatures were discovered to be old or invalid. Although she is the incumbent she did not qualify to have her name on the ballot as a Democratic Party candidate since the deadline for submitting valid signatures had passed.

And, as she started an online and mailer campaign, to have voters write in her name on the ballot, so did fellow attorneys who have argued cases in her court before. 

Michelle McKinney is a family law attorney with more than 11 years of experience who said she would like to see issues handled more swiftly in divorce and child custody cases.

“And I think the experience I’ve had over the past 11 years has equipped me to be able to handle all issues,” McKinney told WFAA. “And when the disqualification came back,” she said of Brown’s name not being approved for the ballot, “I just felt like it was my time.”

Earl Jackson, a family law attorney with more than 30 years of experience, added an online campaign to have voters write in his name as well.

“I am running because of a particular father in one of my cases,” he said of a ruling in the 301st Judicial District Court that he chose not to identify more specifically. “She terminated my client. She made it impossible for my client’s father to see his little girl. And I’m running because I’ve been in front of this court many times. And it needs to come to an end for the people of Dallas, period.”

As for Judge Mary Brown, whose father was also a long-time Dallas County District Judge, she hopes a write-in campaign will be enough to keep her on the bench.

“I grew up in the courthouse, so, I love the courthouse. But I really like our team. I’m hopeful in my heart that everybody that knows me will vote for me and write down Mary Brown.”

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