Name: Octavio A Dominguez
Office Sought: Judge, Criminal District Court No. 1
Education: BA Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University; JD, SMU Dedman School of Law
Current Occupation: Deputy Public Defender for El Paso County, Trial Unit Chief
Political Experience: None
In a concise sentence please explain to the voters your philosophy on taxation. (if the office you seek does not levy taxes, please indicate so here)
Under what conditions will you vote to increase taxes? (if the office you seek does not levy taxes, please indicate so here)
Have you ever been arrested? If so, please explain the circumstances and the outcome.
Have you ever been sued? If so, please explain the circumstances of the suit.
With a YES, or NO, do you support putting the voter-approved multiuse (sports arena) in the area commonly known as Duranguito?
Please explain your reasons to your answer to the question on Duranguito above?
Litigation surrounding Duranguito may arise that could possibly, however unlikely, be assigned to this court. The public’s faith in the rule of law depends on the public’s belief that judges are impartial — favoring neither side. Expressing a public opinion on a contentious issue would undermine that belief.
Do you support, or oppose immigration detention centers at the County Jail or within the County of El Paso? Please explain your answer.
Several years ago, I was involved in litigation against the El Paso Sheriff for his practice of honoring federal immigration detainers and incarcerating individuals without a warrant or a pending criminal case. My litigation partners and I successfully argued the issue in an El Paso county court and the Sheriff was found in contempt of court for failing to obey a court order to release an individual after his case had been resolved. The passage of SB 4, which obligated state public officials to honor such detainers, put an end to further efforts.
What is the number one goal you wish to accomplish during your next term of elected or reelected? Please limit your answer to one issue and explain how you plan to deliver the goal to the voters.
My main goal if elected would be to efficiently reduce the backlog of cases currently pending in this court. As recorded by the last El Paso County Judicial Transparency Report, this court is responsible for the highest number of unresolved felony cases in all of El Paso County–more than 700. The average number of pending criminal cases in other felony courts is just slightly more than 400. A significant reason for this backlog is because more than 40% of these cases are over 12 months old. I understand every case is unique and that some cases legitimately take a long time to resolve. However, the data shows that long delays are a norm for this court, indicating that this is a pervasive problem with Criminal Court Number 1 in particular. I plan to reduce this backlog by respecting the time of every litigant before the court. Every time a case has to be reset is a day a victim or defendant has to take time off work. If matters are ready to be argued, there is no reason why contested hearings and trials should not be conducted as expeditiously as possible.
In your opinion, what is the number one issue facing your constituency and how you plan to address it?
The lack of justice is due to the high number of unresolved cases in this court that are over 12 months old. I believe justice delayed is justice denied. Every day that a victim has to wait to receive justice from the court system, or every day that a defendant has to wait to have his or her day in court, is another day they each have to live with their lives unable to move forward. I believe I have the experience to properly address this court’s backlog. I have been honored to serve as a federal law clerk to two federal judges in the Western District of Texas. In that role, I advised each judge on complex matters of law in both criminal and civil law and drafted memorandum opinions of law as needed by each judge. For the past four years, I have been employed as a deputy public defender. In that time I have represented thousands of clients and tried dozens of cases to jury, including for murder. I am also a member of the 384th District Court SAFP Reentry Drug Court, a program that combines judicial monitoring with community supervision strategies that focus on reducing recidivism and serves as an alternative to incarceration. This experience has taught me that all too frequently criminal behavior is the result of untreated substance abuse issues and sometimes undiagnosed mental health issues. Collectively, these experiences will assure that I am ready to assume the bench on January 1, 2021.