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Ellis County could land new district court

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JOEY DAUBEN

The Ellis County Press

WAXAHACHIE – Ellis County could see a new district court as early as next year, according to a resolution sent to the state Legislature Monday that county commissioners approved.

Aside from Gene Knize’s 40th District Court and Al Scoggins’ 378th District Court, Ellis County will most likely have the court approved by the new legislative session slated to begin next year, county officials said.

A growing backlog of cases and late-night court sessions brought the matter before commissioners Monday.

"We voted [Monday] to request the Legislature to consider the creation of a new district court," said Precinct 3 Commissioner Heath Sims, R-Waxahachie. 

"As you know the new [government] facility has the ability to hold more courtrooms and with a district court the state pays the cost of the judge and we pay for the operation…this is less costly to the local taxpayer than a county court at law."

Ellis County expects to see a line item of $100,000 to $150,000 for the new court to pay for clerks, staff and other court-related expenses, county officials said.

Judges are paid for by the State of Texas’ general operating budget, but health insurance and other clerk salaries are paid for by local taxpayers.

"As you know our courts are backed up and there are many opinions and reasons but if a new court helps get prisoners out of our custody or settles a civil case faster then that helps everyone," said Sims, who faces a November general election opponent for the first time since being elected in 2004. 

"Whether we like it or not there is crime and with growth comes more crime and the quicker we can move them through the more savings are found. 

"I also know that the two county courts at law are still working late hours and that is costing taxpayer’s money."

Appeals from the statutory district courts are sent to Waco, home of the Tenth Court of Appeals. An appeal from Waco would find its way to the state Supreme Court.

District courts hear felony trials and cases and sometimes hear civil lawsuits, but due to concurrent jurisdiction with court at laws, plaintiffs can file multi-million dollar lawsuits in one of the two county courts.


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