San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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December 29th, 2008
Barton seeks justice of the peace applicants

From Commissioner Jeff Barton

Pct. 2 Commissioner Jeff Barton is soliciting applications for the position of Justice of the Peace for Precinct 5 in Hays County.

Whoever is selected will replace Judge Lamont Ramage. Judge Ramage is retiring before the end of his term. His regular term will expire in 2010. The appointee will serve through then and may choose to run for election to a full term or not.

JP Precinct 5 voters in 2010 will elect someone to serve a full four-year term.

Commissioner Barton will select an applicant or applicants to recommend to the full Commissioners Court, composed of five members. The Commissioners Court will select the replacement for Judge Ramage by majority vote.

The law sets few specific criteria for a justice of the peace, except that he or she should reside in the precinct. Precinct 5 includes the incorporated towns of Buda, Hays, and Niederwald, as well as most of the subdivisions around them.  Citizens living in voting precincts 224, 226, 228, 230, and 234 are eligible.

Here is how the Texas Association of Counties describes the role of a justice of the peace:

The justice of the peace is the legal jurisdiction closest to the average citizen.

Section 19 of Article 5 of the Texas Constitution provides that: justice of the peace courts have original jurisdiction in criminal matters of misdemeanor cases punishable by fine only and such other jurisdiction as may be provided by law. Original jurisdiction is the authority to accept a case at its inception, try it and pass judgment based upon the laws and facts. This is distinguished from appellate jurisdiction, which is jurisdiction to review a court’s action. The justice of the peace performs the functions of a magistrate and conducts inquests.

A justice of the peace may issue warrants for search and arrest, conduct preliminary hearings, administers oaths, perform marriages and serve as a coroner in counties where there is no provision for a medical examiner. The justice court also functions as a small claims court in civil matters in which exclusive jurisdiction is not in district or county court and the amount in controversy does not exceed $10,000. They can also deal with matters concerning foreclosure of mortgages and enforcement of liens on personal property.

In Texas, JPs are not required to be attorneys at law. Historically, few Hays County JPs have been.

Persons interested in consideration for the position should fill out the questionnaire on Commissioner Barton’s website (www.comm2.co.hays.tx.us), or contact his office for a copy. It is due by 2 p.m., January 9th.

Commissioner Barton said he will vet applications with a citizen committee he is putting together specially to review potential JP candidates. He hopes to have a recommendation for the Commissioners Court – including back-up – before the end of January.

Applications may be submitted by email, or in person to Commissioner Barton’s executive assistant: Kara kara.bishop@co.hays.tx.us.  Applicants will be contacted by the commissioner’s office, and may be asked to submit additional information and/or to participate in face-to-face interviews. The commissioner’s office is located at 111 N. Front St., Kyle.

The pay for justice of the peace is $53,809 per year, plus an auto allowance. The judge also oversees a small staff of clerks.

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2 thoughts on “Barton seeks justice of the peace applicants

  1. “Commissioner Barton will select an applicant or applicants to recommend…”

    Yes he will.

    ” The Commissioners Court will select the replacement for Judge Ramage by majority vote.”

    No they won’t. The court will vote on who Barton selects.

    Big difference.

  2. There you go again Dr. Rove.

    You take Commissioner Barton out of context. Or rather what the journalist says about him.

    The actual statement is: “Commissioner Barton will select an applicant or applicants to recommend to the full Commissioners Court, composed of five members. The Commissioners Court will select the replacement for Judge Ramage by majority vote.”

    perhaps you didn’t catch the “applicant or applicants.” That last word is PLURAL.

    Yet you still imply that Comm. Barton will make the decision. When in fact he is putting together a citizens committee to look at all the applicants and make recommendations to him to take to Commissioners Court. Ooooh. Commissioner Barton is a bad, bad man. He actually solicits the advice of the people he represents. Bad, bad Commissioner Barton.

    But if you have become so jaded about politics in Hays County, maybe you should get involved in, say, Blanco County?

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