SINTON – The Justice of the Peace judges have had a rough time adjusting to their growing precincts over 2019.
With the exception of Justice of the Peace Pct. 2 Judge Daniel Garza, all other county JPs have asked for an additional employee to keep up with the growing number of arrests and jail offenders as Justice of the Peace Pct. 1 Judge Yolanda Guerrero added to herself to the list. She sent a letter asking for a part-time position for her office during commissioners court last Monday.
“Judge Guerrero is not here because she said this is the first vacation she’s had in 17 years,” San Patricio County Judge Krebs told commissioners.
In the letter, Guerrero stated that her office has already collected more than $48,000 so far this year and presented a list of mental inmates her court handles before she magistrates.
“I am hoping this will be sufficient information for you to approve the additional part time employee that is so desperately needed,” she wrote in the letter.
According to a list she provided, for the entire year of 2017, she handled 1,717 traffic and non-traffic cases. For the entire year of 2018, that number rose to 3,213. Yet, so far from January to September of 2019, she’s handled 3,328 cases.
While she doesn’t have previous records for the mental illness offenders that have come through her court for the past two years, the list shows that from January through August 2019, she’s dealt with 1,026 Mental Health and Mental Retardation (MHMR) inmates. That’s an average of 128 a month.
“Her numbers are increasing drastically over the years and I’ll tell you right now – and the Department of Public Safety (DPS) will tell you – there will be more officers in this county before long,” Judge Krebs said. “And those numbers are just going to get worse.
“That is a lot of her problem right there, she has to take care of all the MHMR inmates that come into the jail. And the two girls she has in her office, I went and sat in there with them and that’s their main issue.”
Krebs said that the court will have to look into the staffing issue for JPs during next year’s budget meetings because of the growing DPS presence in the county.
“We need to help these JPs out like we’re going to help Judge Guerrero while she’s out on vacation,” Krebs added.
Commissioner Pct. 4 Howard Gillespie said, “I have no problem making a motion we go ahead and approve the judge’s request for a part time position.”
The other commissioners agreed to adding a part-time position to the JPs staff and the request was unanimously approved.
Paul Gonzales is the editor at the News of San Patricio and can be reached at 361-364-1270 or at mathisnews@mySouTex.com.