Voters heading to the polls Tuesday
The Ellis County Press
ELLIS COUNTY – Early voting is underway across the county and the primaries are less than a week away to be held on March 2.
Job descriptions and salaries are listed for each position up for election this year.
Tune into our voters guide inside the paper and www.ellis countypress.com for the complete up to date election 2010 coverage.
Although they must be well informed in the law, there is no requirement for county judges to have a formal legal education or a license to practice law.
After election, however, a county judge is required to attain 30 hours of judicial education during their first year in office and 16 hours every year thereafter in order to remain up to date regarding new laws and procedures related to their judicial responsibilities.
As the commissioners court meets to fulfill its budgetary and administrative responsibilities, each commissioner, along with the county judge, participates in all the decisions and work of the court.
Passing a county budget is a major undertaking for the commissioners court.
During the budget process, commissioners approve the employment level of the county and consider the level of funding necessary for the other county offices to carry out their duties and responsibilities. In addition to approving the county budget, commissioners courts have other financial responsibilities.
The commissioners court sets the county’s property tax rate and has the authority to grant tax abatements for economic development and authorize contracts in the name of the county.
County treasurers must secure a bond before executing their official duties of office and within twenty days after the certification of election is received.
The amount of this bond is determined by the commissioners court and is payable to the county judge. In addition to these requirements, county treasurers are required to obtain 20 hours of continuing education annually.
Ten of these hours must be held on a campus of an institution of higher learning.
All funds belonging to the county received by any county official must be turned over to the county treasurer daily, although counties under 50,000 in population may relax this requirement up to thirty days.
Justice of the Peace
A newly elected or appointed justice of the peace must attend 80 hours of training during the first year administered by the Texas Justice Court Training Center and funded by a grant awarded from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
These 80 hours of education are separated into three seminars of two 20-hour schools and one 40-hour school.
After the first year in office, justices of the peace must attend a 20-hour school every year. The education covers all areas of the justice of the peace office.
After each legislative session, additional training is offered to keep the judges informed of any and all changes affecting their courts.
The justice court has jurisdiction over civil, small claims, and eviction suits up to $ 10,000 exclusive of interest. Because the justice court is not a court of record, any appeal to county court is trial de novo, or a new trial.
The justice of the peace also serves as magistrate and can issue warrants for arrest as well as search warrants after determining there is enough probable cause to do so. Another important function as magistrate is to review applications for emergency mental commitments and emergency protective orders.
Court at law Judge
The judge must be a licensed attorney practicing in Texas for at least four years. Judges are elected countywide for a four-year term. If they are appointed to fill a vacancy, they are appointed by the county commissioners court.
The judge can issue writs of injunction, mandamus, attachment, garnishment, sequestration, and habeas corpus in cases where the offense charged is within the jurisdiction of the court. The judge also can punish for contempt, and has all other powers and duties of the county judge.
Most of the current duties of the office stem from an 1846 law that required county clerks to record "all deeds, mortgages, conveyances, deeds of trust, bonds, covenants, defeasances, or other instruments of writing, of or concerning any lands, and tenements, or goods and chattels, or moveable property of any description."
This law also stated that all marriage contracts, powers of attorney and official bonds be recorded.
Today, the majority of the duties still pertain to the receipt, custody and issuance of a wide array of documents, instruments, certificates, licenses and other official papers in addition to the clerk’s duties to the county courts.
40th District Court
Paid from the State Comptroller’s Office
40th Judicial District Court presides over the following: Criminal cases involving felonies or official misconduct ,grand jury organization and supervision, civil cases in matters of controversy involving more than $100,000 or the title to land, juvenile cases involving determinate sentencing or certification for trial as an adult and other miscellaneous cases in which this court shares jurisdiction with other Ellis County courts.