Paige Pattillo, Assistant County Attorney for Nacogdoches County is leading the effort to obtain a second county court at law. (Source: KTRE Staff)
Pattillo is wanting 100 percent from the county commissioners so the request can be drafted for legislative approval by 2017. (Source: KTRE Staff)
Studies show that reductions in jail population from the addition of a county court at law would likely produce enough savings to offset the cost of court. (Source: KTRE Staff)
NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) -
A year-long study found the need for a second county court-at-law is justified in Nacogdoches County.
The need for a second county court-at-law for Nacogdoches County can be wrapped up in one sentence.
"There's no shortage of misdemeanor defendants in Nacogdoches County, unfortunately,” said Paige Pattillo, an assistant county attorney for Nacogdoches County.
Pattillo said she knows she needs evidence to support the argument.
First the caseloads. That's Nacogdoches County in the middle of the chart. Nacogdoches County, with one court, had 2,500 additional cases in 2015. Six other counties, including Angelina County, handle substantially fewer cases, but have two courts.
Pattillo called in an expert. David Slayton, the director of the office of court administration tries to keep all the courts in Texas organized.
"He said, 'I can't believe your court operates as well as it does,” Pattillo said. “You are drowning. Looking at your numbers, you are drowning in cases."
The life preserver could be the savings and revenue generated by a second court.
The court administration expert presented his findings.
A reduced jail population would result in a savings of over $182,000. An increase in collection of court costs and finds could account for $150,000. A second county-court-at-law, would also mean reduced indigent defense costs to the tune of more than $8,600.
Plus the state will pay for 60 percent of the judge's salary.
"What those numbers add up to is $424,150.00 of revenues and savings that we would get every year if the court is created,” Pattillo said.
That is more than enough to pay for the court itself, Pattillo and Slayton said.
Nothing would be built. The courthouse annex is the proposed site, where court has been held numerous times during courthouse renovations.
Pattillo also entered into evidence a petition asking “if they would support a second county court-at-law.”
Thirty-nine Nacogdoches attorneys and law enforcement signed it.
However, what proponents really need is 100 percent approval from the commissioners’ court, so the request can be forwarded for legislative approval in January.
The jury is still out.
Pattillo said an answer within the next couple of months would be beneficial.
Senator Robert Nichols and Representative Travis Clardy need time to draft the request before it's presented to the 2017 legislative session.
During the last legislative session, four counties requested additional county courts-at-law.