Kazen, Hardaway our picks for probate courts

September 27, 2018 GMT

Bexar County’s two probate courts are a mess and in dire need of change.

These courts handle wills, establish guardianships for adults and minors who are incapacitated and need someone to handle their affairs, and have jurisdiction over involuntary mental health commitments.

Over the past several years, one judge — Tom Rickhoff — stopped hearing mental health matters to “reduce angst and conflict” in his life, forcing the county to hire an appointed judge to help with the caseload while he took extended vacations and kept his workday short.

In the other court, the first-term judge — Kelly Cross — mishandled the dismissal of the longtime associate judge handling the court’s mental health cases and replaced him with someone with little experience in those matters.


Cross’ judicial demeanor has come under the scrutiny of the Commission on Judicial Conduct. Earlier this year, the commission issued her a public admonition for referring to a ward of the court as “maggot man.”

It’s time for judges who possess the judicial temperament and work ethic necessary for the efficient and professional operation of these courts to fill these seats.

Straight-party voting in this election will not bring the kinds of changes needed in these and other courts.

In Bexar County Probate Court No. 1, we recommend Democrat Oscar Kazen, who spent 10 years as the court’s associate judge in charge of the mental health docket. In that capacity, he earned the respect of the lawyers and medical professionals who dealt with the court on a regular basis.

Prior to his appointment as an associate court judge, Kazen was a county court-at-law judge handling criminal matters.

Kazen was fired from his associate judge’s job by his current political opponent, Cross. The circumstances surrounding that dismissal have made for much-heated debate between the two, but please note that five months before she fired him, he received the highest marks on his job evaluation.

For Bexar County Probate Court No. 2, we recommend Republican Julie Hardaway, an attorney employed by Broadway Bank in the trust department for the past nine years.

A former staff attorney in this court, Hardaway brings 22 years of legal experience to the job. She is familiar with the operations of a probate court and has management experience, a plus in the job.

The bench was left open by Rickhoff, who did not seek re-election to the probate court and is running for Bexar County judge on Commissioners Court, an administrative and nonjudicial post.

In the county probate courts, we recommend Kazen and Hardaway.