Judge Junkin is by far the most qualified candidate in this race particularly when it comes to civil and family cases. The 453rd State Judicial District Court is, by statute, a general jurisdiction court—meaning it has jurisdiction over civil cases, family law cases, AND felony criminal cases. While the problem is not unique to Hays County, civil and family filings continue to increase, and the backlog of those cases continues to grow. For the last several years approximately two-thirds of the cases filed in Hays County were civil or family law cases—TWO-THIRDS—and in 2018 more than 85% of the cases carried over to 2019 were civil or family law cases!
Before Judge Junkin took the bench, the backlog of civil and family law cases had continued to grow each year, and justice was effectively being denied to thousands of civil litigants. Since he has taken the bench, he has been personally responsible for resolving well over 1,500 civil cases in just 18 months and has been instrumental in getting hundreds more cases lined up for other judges to do the same. Judge Junkin’s background makes him uniquely qualified to directly address the growing number of pending civil and family law cases at a time when Hays County needs it the most. In 2019, the Hays County district courts—for the first time since at least 2010—resolved more total cases than were filed.
But he is not ignoring the remaining one-third of cases filed in Hays County. Before Judge Junkin came on the bench at the end of 2018, the existing courts were already addressing the backlog of criminal cases. Since he has been on the bench, the District Courts have implemented additional dynamic new procedures aimed at speeding up the process of resolving criminal cases (see partial list below). As a direct result of his unique perspective, he has started new procedures to identify expectations more clearly for timely resolution of cases. As a result, criminal cases, particularly those waiting for trial, are now being addressed at an unprecedented rate.
Judge Junkin clearly intends to respect the Constitutional boundaries between the Judicial, Executive, and Legislative branches of the government—he will not legislate from the bench or allow policy, other than as reflected in the law, to drive his decisions. He will not make rulings for political gain. Judge Junkin is not a politician and, other than nonpartisan school board elections, has never run for office before. However, he does recognize that he cannot continue the progress he has made so far without your help. Judge Junkin knows what folks think of political promises, but he hopes you can see from the foregoing that he has already been significantly improving the justice system for all Hays County litigants and nobody will work harder than he does as your judge to keep improving the justice system in Hays County.
Judge Junkin has also been instrumental in your District Courts in Hays County taking significant steps toward improving the justice system for everyone. In addition to starting a new district court from scratch, he has since taking office, among other things:
- Instituted morning AND afternoon dockets
- Created dockets for Monday through Friday of non-jury weeks;
- Created an 8:30 walk-in uncontested docket (pre-COVID)
- Resolved more civil and family cases than any other district judge serving Hays County
- Joined with the other four District Judges and the District Attorney’s office to divide the criminal cases between courts, randomly allocating 20% of the criminal cases to each Court, allowing for assignment of prosecutors to each court for more efficient handling of cases;
- Attended the Texas Indigent Defense Commission’s Indigent Defense Workshop to get up-to-date information on indigent defense issues;
- Helped Hays County get grants for giving criminal defendants access to an immigration attorney who can advise nonresident defendants on the immigration consequences of their pleas, if any, in compliance with United States Supreme Court rulings (Padilla v. Kentucky);
- Helped get grants for an indigent defense coordinator for Hays County and helped write the position description to monitor the indigent defense program in Hays County and help ensure compliance with the Fair Defense Act;
- Helped create a magistrate’s office and write the position description for the magistrate position, that gives the district courts more efficient access to bond eligibility information, bond reviews, initial mental health evaluations, etc.
- Implemented a scheduling order system that, among other things:
- identifies hearing dates early in the case;
- drastically reduces or eliminates resets that do not advance the case toward resolution; and
- allows for one notice of all hearings, eliminating the need to send a notice for each hearing, which is more efficient and saves Hays County money;
- Implemented the use of the Texas eFile system to electronically sign, eFile, and eServe orders, notices, etc. (saves mailing expenses);
- Did not cancel regular dockets after April 12 in light of the COVID-19 pandemic but instead took the lead as the “test” district court in Hays County for implementing procedures for holding regular civil and criminal dockets by videoconference;
- Impaneled the first grand jury in Hays County using hybrid in-person and videoconference procedures in compliance with the Court’s COVID-19 Operating Plan;
- On a daily basis transferred each court’s docket information to the public access displays (which effectively had not functioned since the building was built);
- Served as the district court’s liaison on the Hays County Bail Bond Board;
- Became the first district judge in Hays County to regularly sign warrants remotely;
- In 2019, after getting the court up and running, seated more than 15 juries (to put that in context, there were approximately 31 juries seated in all of 2018 between the four district judges serving Hays County and approximately 57 in 2019 between the now five judges;
- Conducted the first felony criminal bench trial in Hays County during the COVID pandemic using a hybrid in-person/video-conference format;
- Conducted multiple civil bench trials during the COVID pandemic using a hybrid in-person/video-conference format; and
- Empaneled two grand juries during the COVID pandemic to assist in keeping cases moving forward by using a hybrid in-person/video-conference format.
Fair, Balanced, Innovative, and Hardworking. Let’s Keep Judge Junkin!!
Judge Junkin and his family thank you for your support!!