Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article misidentified Missi Walden as the first female Precinct 2 justice of the peace in Ector County. Odessa American archives show Grace Hendricks previously served as a Precinct 2 justice of the peace.
Judges, attorneys and Ector County residents filled in the aisles of the 161st District Court Tuesday morning as Missi Walden was sworn in as Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace.
Walden was sworn in at the Ector County Courthouse at 11 a.m. Tuesday, weeks after she was elected to the position, besting Matthew Stringer in the May runoff overwhelmingly with 1,181 votes to Stringer’s 403 votes.
Walden was sworn in, with her son and daughter by her side, by District Judge John Smith, whom she served for the last seven years as his court coordinator.
“Missi is a wonderful person,” Smith said. “She knows this business here in the courthouse backwards and forwards. She will dive into that JP job and it will be hers very quickly.”
After officially being sworn in, Judge Stacy Trotter, whom Walden also worked for as court coordinator before Smith, welcomed her to the judiciary and presented her with her judge’s robe and a red jabot, neckwear worn by judges.
“We do know that those guys downstairs need a little woman’s touch,” Trotter said.
Walden will be taking over a seat that has been vacant for about six months, when former Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Christopher Clark vacated the office to become the judge for County Court at Law No. 2.
Justices of the peace handle class C misdemeanor cases, like traffic tickets, and small claim civil cases with a jurisdictional limit of $10,000, such as landlord and tenant disputes. They also set bonds, sign arrest warrants and certain search warrants and protective orders and provide marriage licenses.
Walden will have some work in front of her, as the backlog created by the vacant seat leaves around 45 to 50 civil cases she needs to handle and around five to 10 criminal cases, and she will began that work when she starts in her new position this morning.