Incumbent J. Manuel Banales is asking voters for another term as Nueces County's 105th District Judge, citing his more than 20 years experience in the position.
Banales and his wife of 35 years, Peggy, are longtime residents of Corpus Christi. The couple have five children together, the youngest of whom is now 20 years old. Banales is a graduate of the University of Texas-El Paso, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science, and the University of Houston's College of Law.
Since 1982, Banales has been board certified in criminal law. He is also licensed before the Supreme Court of the United States, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and the United States District Courts for the Southern District of Texas.
Banales is the first judge from Nueces County to be confirmed by the Senate as the presiding Judge for the Fifth Administrative Judicial Region, which encompasses 11 counties.
"I have a good record of administering cases fairly and impartially, with justice in mind in all cases," Banales said. "I have done so in each and every case I've heard. With that being said, I've followed the rule of law regardless of who they (defendants) are."
Banales said he takes issue with his opponent's, Republican Angelica Hernandez, claims that Banales unfairly overturned a punishment handed down in the case of controversial attorney Mauricio Celis. Banales said he merely followed a previous recommendation made by the jury to allow for probation on Celis, who had been found guilty on 14 of 22 counts of falsely holding himself out as a lawyer last year.
"I did not agree (with the judge's ruling) and I said, 'I am not going to follow that recommendation,'" Banales said. "This was not a crime of violence. It's more a misrepresentation…but not a single count alleged a crime of violence. I'm not going to put the cost on the taxpayers by putting this man in jail."
Banales said he also does not agree with his opponent's attacks on the number of court reporters on his staff, of which there are two full-time, nor his office's annual purchase of law books, which are estimated to cost $5,000. Hernandez has claimed Banales could utilize an online version for a fraction of that cost.
"The cost of the law books is not extreme - it's within the budget that's allotted by the (Nueces County) Commissioners Court," he said.
"No single Commissioner Court has ever questioned me about the propriety of obtaining these books."
As for why he deserves another term in office, Banales said his experience should be the overriding factor for voters in choosing him over his opponent, as well as his ability to follow the law when deciding cases.
"The law governs every decision I make," he said. "The rule of law is the golden standard in how I decide any case."