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August 25th, 2009
Letter: Warner family wants Zelhart or Pape


On behalf of the Warner family, we would like to express our sincere thanks to the Hays County community for supporting our father as your County Court at Law Judge for 27 years and for the 3 years that he represented Hays County as the Legal Aide Attorney. Judge Warner was proud of the work he did for the community and the Hays County Juvenile Justice System.

Our family was overwhelmed by the way the community embraced us during his illness and his final days. The pageantry of his memorial would have humbled him greatly. A special “Thank You” is extended to our father’s office staff, the law enforcement and legal community, his BBQ Cook-off Committees, his many special caregivers and friends, for your love and support. Words will never express our gratitude for what you did for our father and our family during his lifetime, during his illness and after his death.

Our father was passionate about serving Hays County and the Juvenile Court System. He began preparing for his retirement by encouraging the person he felt was most qualified to fill his position with the same dedication, passion, and sense of fairness that he possessed. He endorsed Tacie Zelhart and encouraged Mrs. Zelhart to run for his bench. As you know, our father always put people before politics, so does Mrs. Zelhart. Judge Warner felt strongly that Mrs. Zelhart possesses the same qualities that he did as an energetic, talented attorney. Mrs. Zelhart is tough as nails and has the background and the sense of fairness to continue his life’s work. The Warner family is proud to endorse Tacie Zelhart to fill the vacancy left by our father’s untimely passing.

When we notified Mrs. Zelhart of our intentions to release this statement to the community, she responded with the statement below that was included in her letter of interest she submitted to the Commissioner’s Court and asked that it be included in any press release:

“It is no secret that many months ago Judge Warner, upon his decision to retire, asked me to run for his bench. After many conversations with Judge Warner, my legal peers, citizens and leaders of this county and other judges across the State, I decided to run for County Court at Law Judge. It was not a decision I took lightly. I am very humbled and honored by Judge Warner’s endorsement of my legal experience and my qualifications. I am willing, qualified and would be proud to serve my community as Judge. That being said, if Mr. James “Jim” Pape has expressed interest in this position, I defer consideration of my application to Jim Pape. If appointed, Mr. Pape’s role should not be limited to just a temporary “caretaker” position, we should all encourage Jim Pape to continue his good work and serve the citizens of Hays County as long as he desires.

Jim Pape is a legal legend, he is known throughout our great State as one of the most effective attorneys in Texas. Mr. Pape is humble, honest and trustworthy— Jim Pape is a true statesman. He is trusted and steady. Mr. Pape has the perfect judicial temperament. Our Commissioners and County Judge are in a unique position to appoint one of the finest gentlemen in Texas to serve the citizens of Hays County. If given the opportunity, I strongly encourage them to appoint Jim Pape as Judge of County Court at Law Number One. Nonetheless, I greatly appreciate the Commissioner’s thoughtful consideration of my application. I look forward to the future, I will continue to work tirelessly to advance the cause of justice in our community and to always remember it is a privilege to serve the citizens of Hays County.”

We understand that the commissioners may not want to appoint someone who previously announced their intention to campaign for the position of judge; therefore, we join Mrs. Zelhart and many other Hays County citizens in their support of Mr. Jim Pape to finish our father’s term as County Court at Law Judge. Judge Warner highly respected, both personally and professionally, his colleague Jim Pape, a long-time resident of Hays County and trusted attorney.

Again, thank you all. Our father was blessed to be embraced by such an incredible community, colleagues, friends and family. Your outpouring of love and support for him will never be forgotten by our family.

Michelle “Missie” Warner Haislip
Dr. Howard S. Warner, III
Jacqueline “Jacquie” Warner

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8 thoughts on “Letter: Warner family wants Zelhart or Pape

  1. Since when do Judges get to choose their successors and worse yet, when did the families of judges become the people who get to decide who sits on our judicial benches?

    Is this still a democracy or should we just leave these matters to be decided by others?

  2. If one takes the time to read over the published resumes of the various candidates for this appointment, it is quite clear who the best-qualified candidate is.

  3. Mr. /Ms. “django”,

    I didn’t realize that a family stating the desires of their highly-respected, dead loved one was somehow jumping over and past the rules of democracy.

    Has anyone demanded the successor be either of these people?? No. The only thing this press release is demanding is that the endorsement of a nearly 30-year veteran to this office, who WOULD know who is BEST CAPABLE of filling his shoes, be heard. Wouldn’t you say his opinion is worth being heard?? Wouldn’t you say that he’d be the best judge (no pun intended) of this??…much like another local judge stipulated in a recent article as she was quoted standing in front of the commissioners…you see, it’s not JUST his family who feels that Judge Warner would know a little something about who best qualifies, but MANY people feel that way. If you’ve been at the job for nearly half your lifetime, you’ve certainly EARNED the right to have some input. And yes, PLENTY of others in this county, heck, this STATE, would agree.

    The politics surrounding this appointment are sickening. There ARE players involved who are trying to fill this position with impure motivations. If you argue with that, you’re completely ignorant of what’s gone on behind the scenes.

    Something everyone should consider is not JUST how long a person’s resume goes on and on (usually with a bunch of filler and activities that have absolutely nothing to do with the job at hand), BUT what kind of CHARACTER does this person have??? Has this person been able to maintain TRUE lasting friendships both inside and outside the political realm of their job?? What type of reputation does the candidate have…and how many people ACTUALLY feel they are TRUSTWORTHY?? …for instance, when this person attends a social gathering, how many people stay late with this person, or even spend more time with them AFTER the gathering (and NOT to talk politics!)in which all local politicians come to schmooze?? Consider that it is those who have friends AFTER the fact that are the ones who have earned the trust and friendship of others.

    Too often judgeships are looked at through the lens of the longest resume, but truth be told, it’s the person’s character make-up that determines whether or not they will be a GOOD, FAIR, CARING judge…and not someone who becomes power-hungry, and/or whose main concern is their fat pay check (again, if anyone thinks money isn’t a big part of this, know how ignorant you really are).

    I would encourage every person in this county to consider not just the resumes, but the reputations behind them…and take heed when a group of people sincerely doubt the trustworthiness of an individual. (Along those lines, consider the lyrics to one of Pat Green’s songs, “You don’t have to guess what I’m against, if you know what I’m for”) There just might be something there…something that we don’t want ANYWHERE near the bench.

  4. The opinions our former Judge’s children (two of whom live in Tennessee, the other attending school out-of-state) are an odd addition to a front and center news story about how to best determine who should succeed their loved one in the political office he once held in Hays County, Texas.

    I offer my sincere condolences for the loss of their father, but these people might have been wiser not be offering up their recommendations in a news outlet concerning who should be our next Judge.

    Wouldn’t this be more appropriate as a public comment in Commissioners Court or a letter written to our County Judge and Commissioners?

    For those of us who may not have been personal friends with Judge Warner or his family, perhaps others like myself would appreciate a bit more objective information being used to find a qualified candidate to sit on this bench.

  5. I have to apologize to those reading these comments. I mocked “django” but putting “dtango” as my name when I should have simply made it known who I am, just as the person before should have.

    Mr. /Ms. django, if you want to make comments like those you published above, please have the courage to tell us all who you are…especially if you are going to publicly belittle, and offend a grieving family.

    Thank you.

  6. In response to your last posting:

    I don’t care for politics, neither do my siblings who, as you made clear, are not even residents of our state.

    For this reason we can be objective.

    We don’t care who supports who, and what political mumbo-jumbo is occuring in the county. We do care to make our father’s wishes known, and to do all we can to ensure the integrity of the bench he has spent nearly 3 decades building up. We’ve done our research just as you have, AND we’ve had personal interaction with all of these candidates.

    If you don’t feel that making a press release is appropriate, and we should only be corresponding with the commissioners, then you, again, don’t understand the politics which have occured surrounding my father’s position, or you’re choosing to publicly act ill-informed. It has been nearly a month since the political pot started boiling…do you really think we haven’t been doing something during this time, and then out of nowhere decided to make a press release???

    My siblings and I care very deeply about this county. Both Missie and Howie attended high school and/or college here at different times, and both have made MANY trips back here over the years to see our father, AND the life-long friends they’ve maintained, some of whom are current leaders in our community. Hays County Texas is a very important part of who they are and to assume otherwise is offensive…likewise, regarding where I attend school. I have been a registered voter in this county since I was 18 years old, and my father has kept me well-informed regarding what has gone on behind the scenes whether my physical address has been here or 1000 miles away. I grew up with all of our county officials, I DO care, and I DO know the issues surrounding their positions. I would dare to say that knowing not just the resumes, but also these individuals personally, might give us more insight than the general public.

    Thank you for your condolences.

    Jacquie Warner

  7. Mr./Mrs. django,

    Your comments dissappoint me greatly. Our family issued a thank you and tried to speak for our father who can no longer speak for himself. Shame on you for making it something it was not meant to be.
    Good luck to all those candidates who try to fill our father’s bench. I certainly hope the candidates have more character than you. The position of County Court at Law Judge has been upheld for 27 years with dignity and respect. The people of Hays County obviously know how to choose a leader and I am sure they will look hard into the qualities of the next Judge. We were simply saying thank you and trying to voice an opinion that was highly respected and now silenced.
    Thanks to each of you who cared and respected our father your kindness and love will never be forgotten.
    Missie Warner Haislip

  8. No one has mocked or belittled your family.

    I just feel that your family’s opinions are playing too great a role in our local public debate.

    These are my personal feelings, do not reflect those held by any candidate for this position and are in no way meant to hurt you.

    I am concerned as a citizen of this county that our Commissioners Court chooses the most qualified person. That is my only purpose in writing this.

    I apologize for any unintended harm my words or sentiments may have caused.

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