Who’s running for this seat?

Melissa Baeza, 38, is an attorney.

Monica Lupita Perez, 33, is an attorney.

Candidate Questionnaires

El Paso Matters sent questionnaires to every candidate in a contested primary race to help you decide who you want to represent you. Candidates were asked to limit their responses to 100 words. Responses have been lightly edited for grammar and to fit the word count.

Why are you running for this office?

Melissa Baeza: I grew up watching my grandmas and parents work hard and serve this community. They inspired me to serve, and I have done so in different ways. I am stepping up to serve in a way that has more of an impact in our community at large. With the retirement of Judge Javier Alvarez, I hope to continue his legacy of fairness, efficiency, and thoughtful analysis.

Monica Lupita Perez: I was encouraged to run by my colleagues who are members of the American Board of Trial Advocates and proven civil trial lawyers in our community. County Court at Law #3 is a civil trial court, and I have the right qualifications for this court.

How many cases have you tried to verdict, and what types of cases?

Melissa Baeza: I have tried seven cases as lead trial counsel; these cases included construction cases involving claims for tortious interference with contract and civil conspiracy, breach of contract cases between businesses and between individuals, and probate litigation (will contest). One of my faster trials was four days and my longest was two full weeks.

Monica Lupita Perez: I have tried over 20 civil cases to a jury verdict, which include cases involving personal injury and commercial litigation.

Why are you the best candidate in this race?

Melissa Baeza: I have the work ethic and character expected of our community leaders. I am conscientious and self-motivated, and I am always prepared. I also have the experience to handle all of the cases on the Court’s docket. My experience has been unique because of the fact that I represent plaintiffs and defendants in state and federal court. My clients have initiated lawsuits and have had to defend against them. I have represented individuals and businesses. My experience has also been unique because I have handled a wide variety of civil cases from small cases to large, multi-party litigation.

Monica Lupita Perez: I have the proven qualifications. I am the only candidate who is Board Certified in labor and employment by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and part of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), the most famous member being Enrique Moreno. ABOTA is the most prestigious, invite-only organization of civil trial lawyers where members must meet the necessary jury trial requirements and litigation experience while having a reputation of practicing with professionalism, civility, and integrity. My community service is also unparalleled as I have been elected to lead various professional and non-profit organizations, to include being Past President of Big Brothers Big Sisters of El Paso and Past President of the Mexican American Bar Association.

If elected, how do you intend to speed up your docket and dispose of your caseload?

Melissa Baeza: If elected, with the help of the party’s attorneys, I will set hearings to address the status of every case and set realistic timelines to get the oldest cases tried first. I will emulate Judge Alvarez and others in running efficient and timely jury and bench trials and will decide motions in a timely manner after careful consideration of the law. I plan to continue remote hearings, especially to address non-contested matters, like scheduling.

Monica Lupita Perez: My experience and qualifications allow me to understand where each case will leave off and the legal issues involved. If elected, I intend to begin preparing prior to being sworn in and look to my judicial mentors for their guidance and advice. I also intend to integrate some of the technological advances that resulted from the pandemic such as the ability to have remote hearings.

Would you place self-imposed term limits on your tenure if elected?

Melissa Baeza: The Judge of County Court at Law #3 serves the people of El Paso County. What matters is whether El Paso County residents have confidence in my ability to apply the law correctly and to be fair and efficient. If elected, I would continue to serve if the community has confidence in me.

Monica Lupita Perez: If elected, I intend to continue serving my community until it tells me otherwise or I feel that I am unable to effectuate the oath of the office.

Why are you running in the Democratic primary for this office?

Melissa Baeza: I am running in the Democratic Primary because I am a Democrat. As early as I can remember, I always thought about fairness, whether with my brother or my peers. I believe in the principles of the Democratic Party.

Monica Lupita Perez: I have been a life-long Democrat, and believe in the Democratic Party’s values. Personally, I have marched in the Women’s March and March for Reproductive Freedom with my daughters, and during law school I volunteered with the Coalición de Derechos Humanos.

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