San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

FROM STAFF REPORTS

Two Hays County justices of the peace are among only a handful of their counterparts this year to receive the Texas Justice Court Judges Association’s highest level of recognition.

Pct. 2 Justice of the Peace Beth Smith and Pct. 5 Justice of the Peace Scott Cary were inducted into the association’s College of Justice Court Judges during an October banquet in Round Rock. The designation was granted to 19 judges of the state’s 822 justice courts.

To be eligible for induction into the college, justices of the peace must complete 30 hours of accredited education in addition to the 20 hours required annually under the Texas Local Government Code.

Smith, a former Mountain City mayor, has held her judicial office since 1994, winning re-election five times. She is also the city of Buda’s municipal judge and presides over Hays County Emergency Services District No. 5, which governs the Kyle Fire Department. Her court’s jurisdiction includes the Kyle and Uhland areas.

Cary, a retired Austin police sergeant, was appointed by the commissioners court in 2009 to fill the bench vacated by O. Lamont Ramage, who was forced to resign because of poor health. Cary, a Buda resident, won re-election without opposition in 2010 and 2014. His precinct includes the Buda and Niederwald areas.

Although they comprise the lowest rung of Texas’ judicial system, justices of the peace are nevertheless granted a wide range of powers and duties that include adjudicating traffic violations and other Class C misdemeanors; executing search and arrest warrants; settling civil disputes involving claims of $10,000 or less; and serving as coroner in counties without a medical examiner.

Justice courts can also perform marriages; order the seizure and euthanization of dangerous dogs and other animals; and hear appeals of concealed handgun license denials.

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