Athens Review, Athens, Texas

February 12, 2013

On the move

JP 1 office relocates to county courthouse

Rich Flowers
The Athens Review

ATHENS — There is once again a justice of the peace office at the Henderson County Courthouse. It just wears a different number.

Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Randy Daniel and his staff moved Friday to the basement of the historic building. Daniel’s court, which had been located at the Henderson County Jail, is now occupying the space formerly occupied by Precinct 6 JP Milton Adams. The office had been empty since the county downsized to five justices of the peace in 2012.

“The space was available and the sheriff needed space for new offices,” Daniel said. “He has investigators stacked on top of each other.”

Daniel thinks the courthouse spot is well suited for his needs and will be easy for the public to locate.

“I think it will work out well for us,” Daniel said. “It’s more centrally located and it’s bigger.”

Activity in the courthouse has decreased to a fraction of what was seen before the county judge, county clerk and other offices moved to the Courthouse Annex in 2010. Daniel said since opening for business Monday morning, he was seeing a steady stream of people in his office to pay traffic tickets and handle other business.  Daniel will still go to the Henderson County Justice Center to handle arraignments — just one of the functions of his office.

The Texas Constitution gives JP courts  original jurisdiction in Class C misdemeanor criminal cases, which are less serious, minor offenses. The courts also have jurisdiction over minor civil matters, they can issue search or arrest warrants and serve as the coroner in counties where there is no provision for a medical examiner.

Daniel has been settling in to the JP1 spot since he was named to replace Henry Ashford, who died last October of a heart attack. Daniel was chosen from among 16 applicants for the job, filling out the term which ends December 31, 2013. Since then, he’s been learning the position while on the job and has also attended classes designed for JPs.