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Hays County seeks more courts to deal with backlog of cases

Hays County Commissioners approved a resolution Feb. 21 supporting and requesting the creation of an additional district court and county court-at-law.

With the support of commissioners and county officials, the request is moving to the 85th Texas legislature for possible approval.

Precinct 3 Commissioner Will Conley worked with Senator Donna Campbell and Representative Jason Isaac on getting the proposal on the state legislature’s agenda.

As Hays County continues to grow, officials agree there’s a need for additional courts.

County district judges and court-at-law judges unanimously supported the proposal, as did the Hays County Bar Association, District Attorney Wes Mau and the San Marcos Police Officers’ Association.

County officials, including judges, the DA, clerks and law enforcement, have worked to manage civil and criminal proceedings as efficiently as possible. However, the county and its volume of court proceedings continue to grow, Conley said.

“Every square foot is changing and growing,” Conley said. “Demands on our services continue to grow with it.”

The county’s growth has translated into backlogs in the criminal justice system and the existing courts, said Daniel Arredondo, representative for the San Marcos Police Officers’ Association.

Felony and misdemeanor cases are not going to trial in a timely fashion and are often reset numerous times, Arredondo said.

“This slow process does not serve the victims who are awaiting justice, the offender who wants his day in court, or the community efficiently … In addition, law enforcement officers are called repeatedly for trials that do not ever seem to get past the docket.” Daniel Arredondo, representative for the San Marcos Police Officers’ Association

The creation of additional district and county courts in Hays County would serve to alleviate much of this inefficiency, Arredondo said.

While the legislature’s approval is not guaranteed, Conley said the county has a strong case for the creation of the two courts.

With the growth of Hays County and the volume of cases in the court system, the argument of why these courts need to be created is obvious, Conley said.

Conley said because the state provides more funding for district courts than for county court-at-law, the legislature might be more likely to approve the county court.

Currently, Hays County includes the 22nd, 207th, 274th, 428th Judicial District Courts and County Court at Law No. 1 and No. 2.

According to commissioners’ resolution, the newest courts were created in 1987 and 2005.

Hays County Court-at-Law No. 2 was created during the 70th legislature session and the 428th Judicial District Court was created during the 79th legislature session.

By proposing the creation of two additional courts, county officials are trying to plan ahead to ensure a justice system that’s accessible to citizens, and addresses many different needs and growing demand for services, Conley said.

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