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Travis Ernst appointed new Victoria County Court-at-Law No. 1 judge

By BY MELISSA CROWE - MCROWE@VICAD.COM
Feb. 26, 2013 at 6:01 p.m.
Updated Feb. 26, 2013 at 8:27 p.m.

Travis Ernst

if you go

WHAT: Oath of Office

WHEN: 10 a.m. Monday

WHERE: Victoria County Courthouse, 115 N. Bridge St.

Victoria County Commissioners voted 3-1 to appoint Travis Ernst the new County Court-at-Law No. 1 judge.

The vote came Tuesday after hours of deliberation in closed and open meetings.

A selection committee initially interviewed the 13 candidates and narrowed that field down to five finalists. Those five were interviewed by the court Monday.

Ernst, who has practiced law for almost 14 years, will take the Oath of Office 10 a.m. Monday during commissioners court for the unexpired term of Judge Laura Weiser.

"I'm excited and ready to get to work," he said moments after the announcement.

He said he wants to pick up where Weiser, who retires Thursday, leaves off.

While a visiting judge will handle the court's duties next week, Pozzi said Ernst can begin Monday if he wishes.

Ernst's wife, Jennifer, said they planned to celebrate Tuesday evening.

"This is something he has wanted and is truly passionate about," she said. "I've never seen him want something so much."

He ran against Judge Daniel Gilliam in the 2010 election for judge of County Court-at-Law No. 2.

Pozzi abstained from the vote Tuesday, while Commissioner Danny Garcia voted against the measure.

The appointment is through November 2014, when the position will be up for election.

Although Pozzi withheld his vote, he said, "I wholeheartedly support the recommendation of the commissioners."

He said his longstanding relationships and personal friendships with families of several candidates made the process difficult.

"I participated in the interviews," Pozzi said. "It's not as if I did not have input."

Pozzi said the high position, competitive salary and legal qualifications drew more applicants than he has seen for any county job or appointment.

At $139,000 annually, the salary is $1,000 less than a district judge, Pozzi said.

Pozzi thanked the five-member committee who made recommendations to the commissioners' court.

"They spent an inordinate amount of their time and their expertise," he said.

The top five candidates came down to Ernst, Joyce Heller, Constance Filley-Johnson, Lidia Serrata and Eddie Wilkinson.

"We had an outstanding ... group of candidates," Pozzi said. "Any of you, at least in my opinion, would make an excellent county court-at-law judge."

Here's a related editorial on the topic.

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