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Sunday, February 26, 2012

"Ask the Judge" Column in La Prensa celebrates one year

Ask the Judge: Sunday Column makes it 52 weeks running
By Judge Steve Walker

For a year now, “Ask the Judge” has been on the editorial page of the Sunday edition of La Prensa. Kudos to Publisher Tino Duran & Editor Nina Duran for allowing me the opportunity to educate the citizens of Bexar County on the workings, the do’s and the don’ts when coming to Pct. 2 Justice of the Peace Court or any other JP Court in Bexar County.

If you have been following the column over time, you have a good perspective of what happens day in and day out, week after week in Justice of the Peace Court. With six JPs in Bexar County covering the Eastside, Westside, Southside and the Northside of town, we all do the same dockets, but perhaps on different days and different times of the day. Pct. 2 covers 184 individual precincts and administers justice for over 300-thousand citizens that reside in the JP2 boundaries.

Week after week the column has addressed everything from the traffic docket to the truancy docket and disorderly student docket to the eviction docket and on to the small claims docket. Each docket has its unique twist on the law, but all are adjudicated under the rule of law.

Hopefully all judges follow the law and exhibit fairness and the ability to mete out justice as required. When judges do not do their sworn duty, they are sometimes reprimanded, sanctioned or worse case scenario, taken off the bench. As far as I am aware that has not happened in Bexar County, but once.

Of the six Justices of the Peace in Bexar County, only two of us are not attorneys. In an earlier column I pointed out that according to the Texas Constitution of 1836, being a lawyer is not a prerequisite for serving as a Texas Justice of the Peace. On the other hand, it is expected that JPs exhibit “common sense,” when deciding a case as well as following the law.

Justices of the Peace are mandated to attend a 40-hour training session at the beginning of their terms and 20 additional hours a year to keep current with the ever changing and updating of laws passes by the legislature.

Like any other profession, due diligence is required in the “People’s Court.” As time goes on, many of the topics covered by “Ask the Judge” may be revisited and addressed as laws are tweaked, rescinded or changed. They may also be revisited periodically as interested new readers are added who may have missed the previous columns.

As I shared last week in this column, I have heard my share of strange responses and stories in my court over the past three years. I will share some of those stories as well.

Lastly, as always, if you are due in court, be sure to show up to court on time. It is in everyone’s best interest.

Justice of the Peace, Pct. 2 Steve Walker is a Vietnam Veteran and a former Journalist.

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