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Hays County Commissioners authorize Justice of the Peace 2 – Place 2

Explosive growth in Hays County led to the Hays County Commissioners Court approving a new Justice of the Peace – Place 2 (JP 2-2) position to alleviate the workload of existing JPs. Under the county government structure, JPs handle misdemeanor and juvenile cases, issue arrest warrants and certain search warrants, and conduct inquests, which are required when there is a death.

On August 1, the item was discussed in Commissioners Court and several JPs including Judge Beth Smith (Pct. 2), Judge Sandra Bryant (Pct. 5) and Judge John Burns (Pct. 4), spoke to the Commissioners Court.

Smith, who handles about a third of JP cases in the county, sometimes requests JPs from neighboring precincts to cover inquests if she is unavailable. Burns told commissioners he performs about seven inquests a year at Ascension Seton Hays on Smith’s behalf, sometimes because she is already on another inquest at the same time.

“I made it abundantly clear to Judge Bryant and Judge Smith that I’m happy to help,” Burns said. “Part of the challenge [is] Dripping Springs is an awful long way from Ascension Seton and if I get called, I take that call, but it’s going to take me at least an hour to get there, which means we’re going to tie up a hospital bed because that person, that deceased person, can’t be moved. We’re going to tie up law enforcement people because they have to stay on the scene. We’re going to tie up hospital staff because they have to stay on the scene during the time it takes me to transit all the way down there.”

Commissioners decided to create a subcommittee to research the issue and bring a recommendation back at a later meeting.

At the August 15 meeting, that subcommittee, consisting of Commissioners Michelle Cohen and Debbie Ingalsbe, as well as Bryant and Smith, presented its report. The recommendation was to approve adding a position to the JP2 office, which will be JP2-2.

The recommendation also included the addition of a justice clerk.

Commissioners Court unanimously approved adding both positions to the JP 2 Office at the August 22 meeting. The JP 2-2 position would be appointed this year and then become an elected position in the future. Cohen motioned to create the new position and start the recruiting process. The recruitment subcommittee includes Cohen, Ingalsbe and Hays County Human Resources Director Shari Miller.

Commissioner Walt Smith (Pct. 4) requested money be allocated in the FY 2023 budget for a new facility on the east side of Kyle.

To submit an application for the Justice of the Peace 2-2 position, visit our jobs website:

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Hays County