NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Nacogdoches County commissioners voted by a narrow margin to pass a resolution for a second county court-at-law. However, it wasn't enough to take the measure to the next step.
For months, county court prosecutor Paige Pattillo has promoted the idea of a second county court-at-law. She didn't stop Tuesday, citing an opinion from a state expert on court administration.
"You are drowning in cases," Patillo said. "There is no question, your numbers definitely support having a second county court at law."
Following a motion by Commissioner Jerry Stone, a vote was taken.
"All in favor of the motion, raise your right hand," said Nacogdoches County Judge Mike Perry. "All opposed same side."
The motion carried, but only by a 3-2 vote. Patillo knows legislative committees demand more before considering the request.
"They want counties to be consistent and unanimous for it to go through the legislature, so with anything else, a passing vote here would be 3-2," Patillo said. "That won't work for the legislature."
The positives weren't argued. The reduced jail population, the increased collections, and reduced indigent defense costs add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings.
"I ask you to do this on behalf of victims and of behalf of citizens getting $424,000 each year for our community," Patillo said.
However, the idea of placing the court temporarily in the court annex and the initial $7,000 startup cost brought the blocking nay votes from Perry and Commissioner Jerry Don Williamson.
"We don't have the facility for it right now. We don't have the money for it," Williamson said. It's great and we need to do it in the future, but right now I just can't see that we need it."
"It's great to have three votes. I'll tell you I will try again in two years, but I am disappointed," Patillo said. I am disappointed for the victims in our community that have to wait a year or a year and a half for their case to go in front of a judge or a jury. That's way too long, and it's not just."
Wednesday is jury selection in county court-at-law. Out of 51 cases, the majority are up to 811 days old, and only three juries can be picked.
A new jail will be a priority issue for Nacogdoches County commissioners in 2017. If it comes to a reality, there are proposals to provide space for a second county court-at-law in that facility.