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Overview of the court at law office

The Austin County Court at Law was founded on January 1, 1986, as part of a provision by the Legislature to create county courts at law as a statutory county court for larger counties. Each of the 254 counties in Texas has a single constitutional county court, as provided by the Texas Constitution, and Austin County in the city of Bellville is one of the larger counties in that State. The county court at law was established for larger counties in terms of population like Austin County, in order for the single county court and its heading county judge who also serves as the administrative head, to be relieved of most or all of its judicial functions. The county court at law is then headed by the county court at law judge, and has concurrent jurisdiction (i.e. same authority as another court level in trying the same type of case) with the district court and the constitutional county court, over respective cases.


As provided by Section 25.0101 of the Texas Government Code, the Austin County Court at Law and has jurisdiction over:


• Family Law cases

Some case subcategories that can be tackled in the Texas Family Law include child protection, adoption, divorce, custody/conservatorship, visitation/possession of access, and child support to name a few. Because the Austin County Court at Law has concurrent jurisdiction with its district court (155th Judicial District Court of Texas) when it comes to Family Law cases, all such cases are filed with the District Clerk.


• All others cases

Cases other than under the Family Law are all filed with the County Clerk. Some of these cases include:

Civil cases exceeding $500.00 but not exceeding $200,000.00

Eminent Domain cases

Juvenile Justice Code cases

Chemical Dependency and Mental Health cases

Criminal cases for Misdemeanor

Code cases for Probate

Municipal Courts and Appeals from the Justice Courts of Austin County

Appeals from a driver’s license Administrative Hearings suspending

Appeals of rulings from the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) for their Workers’ Compensation Division


The Austin County Court at Law has concurrent jurisdiction with the district court (155th Judicial District Court of Texas), over below cases:

• Family Law cases and proceedings

• Civil cases where the amount in controversy does not exceed $100,000, excluding interest and attorney’s fees

• Appealing the rules from the Workers’ Compensation Division of the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI)


While it also has concurrent jurisdiction with the constitutional county court (Austin County Courthouse) over all other matters that the said constitutional county court normally has jurisdiction.


The Austin County Court at Law has terms beginning on the first Mondays of December, September, June, and March of each year. Below are the current dockets:


Ancillary dates: 9:00 AM Criminal, 9:00 AM Civil

Criminal and civil pre-trial dates: 9:00 AM

Criminal trial dates: 9:00 AM

Civil trial dates: 9:00 AM

About the court at law judge

The court at law judge must be well-informed about the laws of the state where the court is established. He/she should also be a licensed lawyer by the state where he/she has also actively practiced law for at least four years, and have resided and actively practiced law in the involved county, prior to election or appointment. Upon his/her election or appointment as county court at law judge, he/she may not be involved in the private practice of law. Moreover, the mandated annual salary of a county court at law judge is at least 75% of the annual salary of the county district judge, .


The duties of the Austin County Court at Law Judge is greatly similar to judicial functions of the county judge, as well as its concurrent jurisdictions with the district court as mentioned.


The current Austin County Court at Law Judge is Hon. Daniel W. Leedy. He studied law in George Mason University School of Law, B.A., and obtained his Juris Doctor degree from South Texas College of Law. Aside from Texas state, his attorney’s license is also recognized in District of Columbia state.

Credit card/ breach of contract cases in a county court at law

A civil case regarding credit card or breach of contract cases may be filed by a complainant (a credit card collection agency or any contract co-signatory) in a constitutional county court (Austin County Courthouse) or a statutory county court (in this case, the Austin County Court at Law) if the amount in controversy is greater than $500 but less than $100,000. With this, the notified defendant will need to sign and file a response form, courtesy of the County Clerk, within 20 days. Otherwise, the case judgment may be deemed in favor of the complainant with default judgment against the defendant, and may order for garnishment of the latter depending on the complexity of the case. This judgment which final and enforceable.


With a timely filed response, this may either for disputing or admitting the claim of the complainant. Admittance to the claim may no longer proceed with a trial, as a summary judgment may be requested by the complainant against the defendant. Upon judgment, the court may grant the amount claimed by the creditor to be collected from the defendant, with careful review that such amount is correctly justified.


In case of a dispute, the defendant shall attend a special appearance. Processes of discovery for both sides may occur in order to gather information, such as taking depositions. There will be pre-trial proceedings in presenting exhibits based on the discovery process. A summary judgment may occur if one of the parties admit to lack defense, and a trial may no longer be necessary, hence there would be negotiations on who owes and how much is settled between both parties. But if both parties would continue with the proceedings, a trial will be set for case presentation and arguments, deliberation, and court judgment. Unless it is proven that the case should be written off as a bad debt where the defendant has no means to pay, the court will provide the orders for collection if the defendant should owe either the claimed amount of the complainant or the disputed amount by the defendant.

Because the State of Texas does not allow for wage garnishment as a process in collecting debt, a lien may be issued on the real and personal property of the defendant to ensure proper collection of payment. The debtor and creditor may also work together for an agreed payment plan.

Any case smaller than $500 is filed as Small Claims case in lower courts, particularly the justice courts.

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