JP says complaint unfoundedLange disputes homebuilder’s allegation of his inaccessibility

Disputing a complaint made last Thursday in Ector County Commissioners Court by a multi-family homes construction company owner, Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Terry Lange said Monday that he and his three clerks have been available throughout 2020 to file and adjudicate cases.
Lange said the only cases filed in his court during the past two years by Keith Antilley of Keith Antilley Homes were for evictions in January 2019 and on Dec. 14 with the recent case being set for a hearing Dec. 31.
“Precinct 1 is the largest precinct and my three full-time clerks and I have been here working from 8 to 5 all this year,” Lange said, noting that the county attorney’s and county judge’s offices have also been closed along with his and the Precincts 2, 3 and 4 offices of JPs Missi Walden, Sherwood Kupper and Eddy Spivey.
“Over the year, Precinct 1 will have over 8,000 criminal cases and over 600 civil suits filed with revenues from fines and court costs reaching $1 million,” he said.
All the JPs’ offices are in Room 208 at the county courthouse downtown.
Lange said he was on his annual deer-hunting trip near Garden City last week when the Odessa American tried to reach him.
Antilley had told the commissioners that he had been unable to get any business transacted in any of the four courts since the COVID-19 pandemic closed county offices last spring. “Their doors have been closed and their phones don’t answer,” Antilley said.
“They have not been to work. They’re just staying home and drawing their checks.” However, Kupper said that afternoon that he had contacted Antilley and the businessman had stated no complaint about his court. “I talked with Keith and he told me that he had not had a problem with Precinct 3,” Kupper said.
“So I have no comment other than to say Precinct 3 is not involved.”
Walden said she and her clerk had worked assiduously all year, holding hearings on Zoom, while Spivey didn’t respond to a request for comment.
County Judge Debi Hays said last week that she would tell Human Resources Director Donna James to contact the JPs about submitting a plan for reopening their offices after Jan. 1.
“The community has needs, so they need to be available for those needs,” Hays said.
Efforts to reach James Monday morning and afternoon were unsuccessful.
Lange said he, too, had been holding Zoom hearings and, for people who didn’t have computers, in-person proceedings in accordance with guidelines issued by the Texas Office of Court Administration and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Lange said forms to file various types of cases were on a desk outside his office.
Asked if he had been working at home, the JP said, “No, there would be nothing for me to do at home.
“I can’t speak for the other precincts, but I have people here to answer the phones. I want to compliment my staff for their tremendous work ethic because they have been at their desks, working hard, through this whole thing.”