Name: Gregory (Greg) E. Wilhelm

Current position: Presiding Judge, Ellis County Court at Law No. 1

Age:50

City of residence: Midlothian

Education:  I am a 1982 business graduate of Baylor University.  In 1995, I entered graduate school at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Va., and earned a law degree and a masters degree in public policy.

Professional credentials/certifications/ commendations (relative to office):  I am a member of the State Bar of Texas; College of the State Bar of Texas; the Ellis County Bar Association; the Texas CPS Judges Association; the Texas County Court at Law Judges Association; the Texas Bar’s Judicial Section, Litigation Section, Family Law Section, Business Law Section, and Real Estate, Trust, and Probate Section; and a former member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association legal services plan.  

Prior experience (relative to office): I operated a successful Ellis County and Dallas County law practice for several years, in which I dedicated a substantial amount of time to providing legal services to businesses, families, children, and the elderly, as well as service on the boards of private business entities. 

As a private practitioner, I handled complex civil and commercial litigation matters successfully without the need for protracted litigation. I was able to effectively resolve many of my cases, which meant that my clients were able to forego the financial and emotional expense of a jury trial. 

Additionally, I managed complex probate, trust, and estate matters, including the creation and drafting of detailed, effective, and efficient estate plans which allowed parents and grandparents to protect and preserve their estates, not only for own their futures, but those of their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

Furthermore, I invested a large portion of my law practice in the representation of children and parents involved in child protective services cases. 

I gained unequalled experience in the representation of children who were victims of some of the most horrific acts of physical and sexual abuse and neglect.  Some of these children were returned to their families, while others were given new lives through the blessing of adoption – both of which were the most rewarding aspects of my private practice. 

I was also specially appointed by the court to confer with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office regarding a child pornography ring, of which a portion extended into Ellis County.

Family: I have been married to Monica Wilhelm since 1990; and, we have two amazing children, Eliana and Jared.

Hobbies/Interests: Time with family; reading; writing; american and Texas history; statesmanship; fishing and hunting; shooting sports; auto mechanics; restoration of antique and classic automobiles.

Campaign Web site:

http://www.gregwilhelm.com

QUESTION 1: In your own words, why are you running for Ellis County Court at Law No. 1 Judge?

ANSWER:  I am running for another term as Judge of the Ellis County Court at Law No. 1 because I have a deep and genuine commitment to public service. 

I am dedicated to serving my community.  This commitment is founded not only in the conservative, Christian values of my upbringing, but is fostered by my desire to apply the law and the Constitution from the standpoint of Original Intent and the perspective of the Founding Fathers.

I also have a passion for the protection of children who are the subject of abuse and neglect.  I promote preservation of the family, as well as care of the elderly and the infirmed.  Ellis County Court at Law No. 1 deals with all of these issues.  I believe the future of Ellis County, as well as our State and our Nation, depends upon each of us facing and fighting those factors and forces which undermine the integrity of the family. 

For too many years, courts and local governments have taken the position that quick hearings and quick resolution of child-related cases is best for everyone.  The problem with this philosophy is that it is a short-sighted view of a long-term problem which may close a case and save dollars today, but only postpones a growing problem and costs to tomorrow and future fiscal years.

Ellis County is blessed to have elected leaders who have been dedicated to providing proactive and significant support to the Courts and those organizations advocating for the best interests of children.  Instead of seeking short-term and short-sighted gains, our citizens and commissioners have remained steadfast in steering away from national trends of cutting funds supporting the long-term protection of children.  Such foresight clearly fosters true “Homeland Security” for these most defenseless of citizens.

Additionally, I have a track record of commitment to the citizens and business owners of Ellis County.  Few counties in the state exist where litigants – if they so desire – can obtain prompt court settings and timely resolution of cases, such as in Ellis County.  As Judge of the County Court at Law No. 1, I have supported and promoted this practice, which serves the best interests of all parties, attorneys, and taxpayers.

Furthermore, though rapid resolution of a civil or probate matter is desired, prompt resolutions for the sake of numbers is an unwise policy for any court.  The phrase is true which says that “bad facts make bad law”, and it is equally true that inadequate and weak Trial Court rulings  –  when punted to an appellate court for the sake of expediency – makes for bad legal precedent and serves as an injustice to citizens seeking relief through the court system. 

Each matter that comes to me as a Judge receives the necessary time and attention that it needs in order to best resolve the case in a constitutional, impartial, and fair manner. I remain committed to the prompt resolution and disposition of cases, but will not do so solely for the purpose of convenience or for the attainment of high disposition numbers. 

QUESTION 2: What is your experience in the type of cases assigned to this court, specifically, probate, child protection, and civil suits?

ANSWER:  As stated above, I operated a successful Ellis County and Dallas County law practice for several years, in which I dedicated a substantial amount of time to providing legal services to businesses, families, children, and the elderly.  During this time, I handled complex civil and commercial litigation matters successfully without the need for protracted litigation. Many of my clients were able to forego the financial and emotional expense of a Jury Trial.  Additionally, I managed complex probate, trust, and estate matters, as well as drafted detailed, effective, and efficient estate plans.

Furthermore, I invested a large portion of my law practice in the representation of children and parents involved in child protective services cases. I gained unequalled experience in the representation of children who were victims of some of the most horrific acts of physical and sexual abuse and neglect, and was specially appointed by the court to confer with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office regarding a child pornography ring, of which a portion extended into Ellis County. 

Since taking the bench in 2007 as the Judge of County Court at Law No. 1, I have presided over civil, probate, and family law case. Some of these cases include highly-contested civil and estate lawsuits, will contests, cases of child and elder abuse, disputed guardianships, land condemnation cases, civil Justice Court appeals, debt-collection disputes, divorces, adoptions, mental commitments, and juvenile matters. Additionally, I have the experience of having successfully managed multiple, high-profile, complicated legal cases, two of which were considered the most contested Jury Trials held in the history of this Court. 

Additionally, as Judge, I am a member of the Ellis County Juvenile Board, have sat on a Child Death Review Panel, and oversee the Ellis County Indigent Guardianship Program – all of which enhance my judicial experience and ability to successfully manage the Court.

QUESTION 3: What changes, if any, do you think should be made (in the administration of cases) in the County Court at Law No. 1?

ANSWER:  I believe that I have an ethical and administrative obligation to embrace a long-term vision and commitment to the wise financial management of our County’s resources. For example, in connection with CPS-related cases, I have examined, and continue to examine, alternatives that can be considered and implemented, such as, the feasibility of a Public Defender’s Office and/or the option of retaining fixed-fee contract attorneys to represent a majority of parents and children in CPS cases, as well as the implementation of strict discovery control plans, all to minimize and better administer the costs and contentiousness inherent in such cases.

As Judge, I have already put into practice several changes in the administration of cases. For instance, the enactment of a number of significant case and financial management improvements, including but not limited to, expansion of the Child Protective Services (CPS) Case Caucus Program; referral to private mediation of a growing number of civil lawsuits; mandated case conferences; expedited Child Protection hearings; preservation of the Early Intervention CPS Case Management System; wide expansion of the appointment of volunteer guardians in child and elder cases; and the judicious dismissal of inactive cases – all of which lessens taxpayer burden by maximizing Court time and County resources.

Moreover, in light of growing budget restrictions, I am proposing the establishment of a monthly session of “night court”, in which citizens unable to afford the benefit of legal representation, can have their claims considered by the Court in a timely and convenient forum.

QUESTION 4: Do you believe that our courts in Ellis County should continue to specialize, such as continuing assignments of all child protective services cases to this County Court at Law or should all cases be allocated among all the courts in Ellis County having jurisdiction?

ANSWER:  In special circumstances, other courts in Ellis County possessing concurrent jurisdiction for CPS currently hear such cases, but to allocate all such cases among all of the Courts would not be in the best interests of children or families.  In the same respect, it would not be wise to allocate capital murder cases equally among the Courts, as such cases demand and deserve Judges who possess specialized training, knowledge, and experience in this arena.

Evidence of such is the existence of specialized Child Protective Service (CPS) cluster courts, wisely created by the State Legislature to focus exclusively on cases of child abuse and neglect. Such specialization is furthered by the State’s funding, and the Texas Supreme Court’s promotion, of the extensive training of judges who hear these matters.  The ultimate goal is to have all such cases handled by highly-trained judges who become skilled and experienced in the inherent complexities of child abuse and neglect, so as to provide continuity in the disposition of CPS cases and expedite true permanency for children.

QUESTION 5: What do you believe makes you the best qualified for the position?

ANSWER:  My judicial experience makes me very qualified to continue in my current position as the Judge of County Court at Law No. 1 and has prepared me to successfully manage and address the most complex of legal matters brought before this Court. 

I am loyal to the Rule of Law and to our State and U.S. Constitutions, through which all matters must be examined.  As a judge, I must decide cases fairly and impartially, relying on the facts, the evidence, and the law, and am committed to continuing to do so to the best of my ability. 

My experience and training in civil, business, and probate cases equips me to understand and interpret the complex legal issues contained within these areas of the law, and my ability to apply the law to the facts and the evidence provides for the just resolution of such matters. 

Moreover, with the State of Texas being the legal parent to more than 30,000 children, due to allegations of abuse and neglect, and with courts being ultimately responsible for oversight of these children – where they will live, with whom they will have contact, and whether they become legally free for adoption – my extensive experience, training, and expertise in the areas of child abuse and neglect qualifies me best for this position.

From 2001 – 2007, Texas led the nation with 1,509 child abuse deaths, of which 228 occurred in 2007.  As Judge of the Ellis County Court at Law No. 1, and as an attorney who served on the most tragic instances of abuse and neglect, I intimately understand the deadliness of child abuse.  As a private practice attorney, this awareness led me to help form CASA of Ellis County, Inc. (Court Appointed Special Advocates), and serve as its founding President, so as to ensure volunteer guardians were trained to speak for abused and neglected children

I am blessed have been married to my wife, Monica, for close to 20 years, and am a proud Father to 7-year-old, Jared, and 9-year-old, Eliana.  I am both a husband and Father who possesses tested experience as an attorney and businessman, and proven judicial experience, all supported by over 160 hours of judicial training.  These attributes make me the best qualified individual to continue serving as judge of this Court.

QUESTION 6: Do you believe the Constitution is to be interpreted in a manner consistent with what the framers intended.

ANSWER: Yes. The Declaration of Independence serves as a covenant declaring the inherent rights of our citizens, and the United States Constitution serves as the foundation and ultimate arbiter for the preservation and protection of such rights.  A house built upon “living and breathing” sand will ultimately crumble, but one constructed upon a firm foundation will stand the tests of time.

Our United States Constitution, drafted with the wisdom and foresight of our Founding Fathers and affirmed by the integrity of amendments crafted in the light of “original intent”, provides our country with a foundation upon which justice and liberty shall prevail. 

As Judge, I am committed to upholding and preserving the Constitution and interpreting the laws of the United States and Texas in a manner consistent with what the framers intended.  The citizens of Ellis County deserve no less.