Before the Honorable Cyndi Gore got appointed to her current post as Allen Municipal Court presiding judge in 2017, she worked in private practice and defended clients in juvenile cases. Before that, she worked the other side of the bench for prosecutors in Lubbock and Collin Counties.
With 27 years of legal experience under her belt, she also commits her time to advocacy for the city’s Teen Court, an educational program wherein juvenile defendants can be credited for community service hours by engaging in mock trials and understanding the intricacies of the legal profession.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
How did you get into the field of juvenile law?
When I was a prosecutor back in the mid-90s, my last assignment was in the juvenile division, then when I went into private practice. Over the 17 years that I did private practice, it just evolved to where juvenile was kind of my passion. I became certified in both criminal and juvenile law.
What subtle differences between criminal and juvenile law have you noticed?
Well, the juvenile system is designed to basically allow kids to have a second chance. The most juvenile cases, even if they’re formally adjudicated, they have the opportunity to go back and seal those records so that it doesn’t affect them with their abilities to be productive as adults.
The juvenile system is also designed to be rehabilitative as opposed to just strictly punitive. There’s a punitive aspect to it, obviously. Consequences are an important part of teaching kids not to engage in the same conduct, but it’s designed to rehabilitate and figure out what went wrong and led to that so we can fix it, get them on the right track and hopefully keep them out of the adult system.
What are some of your proudest professional achievements?
Being chosen to sit as the Allen Municipal Judge has been a major achievement. I believe there were like, 124 applicants whenever Judge Hopper retired.
Another major achievement would be how we have grown the Teen Court program.
Obviously because of COVID, we’re not doing in-person Teen Court trials right now just for the safety and health of everyone, but we’re hoping that maybe come spring, we can return to having Teen Court jury trials where kids can volunteer to sit as jurors.
What does a normal day for you look like?
Typically, the first thing I’m doing is looking to see if we have any defendants in the jail that I need to arraign. If we do, then I contact the jail staff and try to find a good time to do that [virtually].
Then Mondays through Thursdays, we have all of our dockets, [which] start anywhere from 9-10:30 a.m. Mondays, I try not to start them until 10:30 a.m. so we have some time to clear out some fires from the weekend.
Are you a native Texan? (Where from?)
No I’m not.
I grew up in Southwest Kansas in a town called Hugoton. My dad is a farmer there. He’s since retired. All of my family still lives in that area.
I went to Texas Tech when I graduated high school and got my undergraduate [there], worked for about a year and a half and then ended up going back to Texas Tech for law school.
After that, [I] went to the DA’s office in Lubbock, worked for a little over a year then went to the Collin County DA’s office until November 1999. I had my first child in May of that year but decided it was time to leave the structured DA’s office to open up my own practice just so I could have more flexibility.
[I did that] until January 2017 whenever I took the full-time bench here in Allen.
What are some of your favorite local restaurants?
Gosh, there’s so many. [laughs]
Here in Allen, one of my favorites is Elke’s. That’s a regular lunch spot. We love Dimassi’s to get our Mediterranean fix.
What are some of your go-to comfort movies and TV shows?
Well, of course, Schitt’s Creek.
My husband’s a police officer, and for some reason, we’re kind of drawn to some of the crime shows like Bosch.
We watch a lot of Young Sheldon and Stranger Things… anything that’s 80s[-themed]. We just finished watching Red Oaks, which was set in the 80s.
What do you want your legacy to be?
That I was kind.
I just remembered back [to the “greatest achievement” question]: Probably the greatest accomplishment that I’ve achieved is creating specialty dockets for both adults and juveniles in the municipal court, and the specialty dockets address specifically defendants with substance abuse issues or mental health issues. It’s designed to follow the drug court model.
We’re monitoring if they’re engaged in their substance abuse treatment or mental heath treatment, and they get service hour credits for all of those things that they do. If they’re attending private counseling, they’ll get an hour credit towards their fees for each session they attend. If they see their psychiatrist and renew their meds, they get credit for that.