Collin Commissioners to discuss reducing Justice of the Peace courts

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by STEVE STOLER

WFAA

Posted on October 18, 2013 at 4:59 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 18 at 6:45 PM

COLLIN COUNTY — Collin County commissioners will discuss a proposal Monday that would reduce the number of justices of the peace from five to four.

The county's justices of the peace already hear more than 50,000 cases between all five. Now, they've expressed concern that reducing the number of courts would increase the time many cases go to trial.

Justice of the Peace Paul Raleeh does much more than marry people. His court handles more than 10,000 cases a year. Cases range from traffic tickets, truancy, evictions and credit card lawsuits.

"The wheels of justice always move slow," Raleeh said. "This is just going to slow it down even more."

One of the Judges, Terry Douglas, is retiring. County leaders say that may be an opportunity to save a little money and streamline the JP court system.

"He has the lightest workload of all of our JPs," said Collin County Judge Keith Self. "This is an opportunity for us to redistribute the workload across four JPs."

But, Raleeh said with the county's population approaching one million, now is not the time to cut the number of courts. He said some civil cases involving lawyers can already take up to two years to come to trial.

"Now, you're starting to add another 5,000 or 6,000 cases to a court," said Raleeh. "You're looking at whether we can still provide the same amount of service in the same amount of time and I question that. I'm concerned."

Self said commissioners are always looking for ways to save tax dollars.

"Any cut at any level of government is considered catastrophic," said the county judge. "And we hear these horror stories time and time again and rarely do they play out."

If Collin County commissioners want to cut the number of justices of the peace they must act fast. The deadline for filing for the upcoming election is December 9. On Monday, they're expected to decide whether to move forward with the idea.

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