Earlier this month, Hays County Commissioners kicked off the process to hire a judge for the recently created third court-at-law earlier this month, with hopes to swear in a new judge by early October.
Commissioners Aug. 7 unanimously approved to begin the search for a judge for the new court-at-law.
A third court would help relieve the two existing courts of overwhelming caseloads, said David Glickler, Hays County Court-at-Law No. 2 Judge. The courts are general jurisdiction, which means judges hear criminal misdemeanors, civil lawsuits with amounts under $200,000 and probate cases such as wills, guardianship, mental health cases and the juvenile docket.
The third court is a long time coming, Glickler said. The Hays County caseload increased by 71 percent from 2014 to 2017.
“It’s past due when you consider the second court was awarded to Hays County in the late (1980s),” Glickler said. “We have been operating for 30 years with two courts, as we’ve grown from a 50,000 person population to 200,000.”
“We are challenged with extreme growth,” said Lon Shell, Precinct 3 commissioner.
With the Interstate 35 corridor in the middle of Hays County, people come here and get arrested from all over the world and become a burden to the justice system, Shell said. A third court is necessary for the growth the area has experienced.
“I’m not saying we’re not doing our best,” Shell said. “I think it’s just time for help.”
The state approved a third court-at-law for Hays County during the 85th legislature, and the county has set a goal to swear in a third judge by Oct. 6.
“We have done all we can to manage growth and increased caseload without needing a third judge, until now,” Glickler said. “It’s just time.”