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Profile: Justice April Farris, 1st Court of Appeals, Place 4

Updated: Oct 24, 2022

(FORT BEND COUNTY) – Justice April Farris was appointed as Justice of Texas’ 1st Court of Appeals, Place 4 in January of 2021 by Governor Greg Abbott and is now running to retain her seat and serve her first full six-year term.

Farris

She faces Democrat Mike Engelhart on the Nov. 8 ballot.


“We are one of the most important courts no one has ever heard of,” said Farris.

Her appellate court has jurisdiction over criminal, civil and family cases in a large region of Texas, including Fort Bend County, with the exception of death penalty cases.


“Our decision ends up being the final word for the parties in 90 percent of those cases because the higher courts can pick and choose [which cases they hear] and only choose about ten percent,” she said. “There is no jury, there is not a trial, the only question is whether the court below got the law right.”


Farris says the role appellate judges serve affects not only the cases heard in the court but also sets precedent that can be used in future cases involving similar issues.


Farris also says voting for judges in local elections is important and can affect the lives of residents in many ways.


“Voting is absolutely crucial,” she said. “One of the problems we are seeing is crime in our counties and a lot of that is due to backlog in the criminal courts, cases not being tried timely,” she said. “I think that’s why it is really important to vote for people who have experience, because we want to keep the wheels of justice moving.”


Farris’s court the past year had a 100 percent clearance rate, she added.


“That can only happen if you have appellate experience, criminal law experience, if you know what you are doing,” she said. “The system breaks down when you are having to learn on the job. That’s why people really need to pay attention to those judicial races so we can make sure the court process keeps running smoothly.”


Farris, a Fort Bend County resident, has spent her entire career practicing appellate and criminal law. A graduate of Harvard Law School, she clerked for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and served as an Assistant Solicitor General for the State of Texas, where she handles appeals for various Texas agencies. Prior to joining the court, Farris was a partner at Yetter Coleman LLP, where she handled appellate litigation for energy, technology and government clients. She recently completed a three-year term for the Council of the Texas State Bar Appellate Section and currently co-chairs its CLE Committee.


“When you a coming up through law school most of what you are reading are appellate decisions, Supreme Court cases,” she said. “I loved law school, I thought it was fascinating, so I decided I wanted to appellate practice. I am the only candidate in the race that has actual done appeals, and I have done appeals my whole practice for over a decade.”


Ferris is endorsed by the Houston Police Officer’s Union.


“This election people are really focused on violent crime and making sure our criminal justice system works,” she said.




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