I am David Marcel Fleischer and the Judge of Harris County Criminal Court at Law No. 5. It is important to have a judiciary that reflects the ever-changing dynamic of the county. I am a Hispanic Jew whose family fled prosecution in 1939 and left Germany on one of the last boats, to the farthest place from Hitler and settled in Santiago, Chile. From there, in 1973, we fled from the harsh conditions of the communist government under Allende to Houston. I am the first in my family to have this type of education and have been licensed to practice law nearly 18 years. Prior to my election on the bench, I was a criminal defense lawyer who primarily practiced in Harris County.
We have made historic changes to the criminal justice system in Harris County. First, we settled a three-year lawsuit that the prior Judges continued to fight; even though Harris County’s bail practice was ruled unconstitutional. We then, instituted bail reform and helped reorganize the system so that the size of one’s wallet is not the determinate factor as to whether they will receive pretrial release. Second, we created a Harris County MAC (Managed Assigned Counsel) program that takes our power to appoint lawyers to represent indigent persons away and allows an independent third party to equitably appoint attorneys to those who are unable to hire one. Third, we created an open-hours court that allows persons who have missed court to come in to change their date so as to avoid an arrest warrant. Lastly, we made it easier for defendants to stay in contact with the Harris County Judicial System by providing text updates to ensure they do not miss their court dates. We, truly, have changed the system for the better in the three short years we have been on the bench. However, our work is not complete, and we have to continue to refine the programs we launched to ensure that no one falls through the cracks.