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Probate judge says he’s got a handle on the county’s caseload

Wednesday, December 14, 2016 by Caleb Pritchard

Even as its civil and criminal judges push for the creation of new courts in their systems, one small corner of Travis County’s judiciary is saying things are fine just the way they are, for now at least. On Tuesday, Probate Judge Guy Herman told the Commissioners Court that he doesn’t see the need for a second probate court until 2021 at the earliest and 2025 at the latest. Herman explained that, unlike the criminal and civil courts, the county’s explosive population growth has created no discernible upward trend in the cases he handles. Whereas his colleagues in the Heman Marion Sweatt Courthouse and the Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center want to ask the 85th Texas Legislature to create new judgeships to relieve mounting pressure on them, Herman told the Commissioners Court that the probate court can wait for a subsequent legislative session. In any case, he said, the county should certainly wait until it has the physical capacity to house any new courts before it seeks to create them. At the moment, county planners are hoping to secure the historic U.S. Courthouse on W. Eighth Street as a new home for Herman’s court, but that decision remains in the federal government’s hands. In the meantime, to keep up with his current caseload, he said he could use some additional staff, including a new part-time court reporter, a planner and a probate auditor. The Commissioners Court will likely take action on the requests from each of the court systems in early January.

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