Judge Rex Emerson of the 198th District Court says a group of nine county judges around his Hill Country jurisdiction agree the area needs two more district courts.
“Our citizens are having a hard time moving their cases through the justice system,” explains Emerson. “Our real concern is people having access to the justice system in a timely manner.”
The region currently has two district courts: The 198th covers Edwards, Kimble, Kerr, McCulloch, Mason and Menard counties, while 216th District Judge Keith Williams’ court covers Bandera, Gillespie, Kendall and Kerr counties.
At an April 16 meeting, county judges from all nine counties agreed that the two courts need help, says Emerson. “I think what’s happening is in the 216th, because of the rapid growth of the counties, Judge Williams’ dockets are out of control. They’re working 10, 12 hours a day, five days a week,” he says.
Emerson’s district has a different problem: He says he’s on the road by 6:30 a.m. every workday to make the rounds to his six counties. He normally drives between 1,500 and 2,000 miles each week. It’s getting harder to set timely trial dates in both jurisdictions, Emerson says.
The county judges think if the Texas Legislature created two more district courts for the region, it would “increase the court access,” he says.
Emerson notes there’s another meeting to discuss the idea on May 7. Emerson says Kerr County Judge Pat Tinsley organized the April 16 meeting. Williams did not return a telephone call seeking comment. Tinsley could not be reached before presstime.
-- Angela Morris