Weatherford Democrat

February 26, 2014

Meet the March 4 primary election candidates: Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace


Weatherford Democrat

Name: Lynn Marie Johnson

Age: 54

Occupation: Justice of the Peace, Pct. 4, since 2011

Family: Married to Ed Huddleston for 22 years. Four daughters: Kendall (19, petroleum engineering major at UT-Austin), Kallyn (17), Cameron (14) and Cheney (12).

Educational background: Graduated in 1984 with a law degree from the University of Minnesota; B.A. from Concordia College with degrees in Communications, Business Administration and Psychology.

Professional affiliations or memberships: Texas Justice Court Judges Association,Texas State Bar Association, Parker County Bar Association, Tarrant County Bar Association, East Parker County Chamber of Commerce, Women’s Business Alliance of Parker County, Bush Legacy Republican Women of Weatherford, Parker County Republican Women, Parker County Republican Party.

Community involvement: Aledo Children’s AdvoCats (2001 to present, serving as president for two years and director for nine years); Shattered Dreams (2008 to present); Project Celebration (2012 co-chair, 2014, 2017 and president of Project Celebration Inc.); Parker County Teen Court (founding member and volunteer from 2006 to present); BearCat Park; Aledo PTO (1999 to present); Aledo athletics (2008 to present).



What will be your top three priorities if elected justice of the peace and what steps will you take to achieve those goals?

My priorities in 2010 were: (1) compliance with the law and judicial ethics; (2) fiscal responsibility; and (3) personal responsibility. These remain my priorities today.  

(1) Compliance with the law and judicial ethics. I do not legislate from the bench. I listen to the facts presented, elicit testimony from the parties when needed and rule according to the law. Judges are not elected to make the law; they are elected to follow the law.

(2) Fiscal responsibility. I manage my court like a business employing talented people, managing and training staff, staying under budget, complying with collection practices required by statute, maximizing efficiency and productivity, utilizing technology, providing good customer service, increasing hours open to the public, making legal information available to litigants, maintaining high morale, building relationships with the community and other county departments and adhering to community values.

(3) Personal responsibility. When I took office, I made teen court available to teenagers for their traffic or Class C misdemeanor offenses and promoted the program to other courts. Teen Court requires a teen to take responsibility for the offense, participate in teen court as a juror and perform community service hours in lieu of playing a fine. Once successfully completed, the case is dismissed.

Similarly, options are given to adults to keep offenses off their record if allowed by law. If re-elected, I will continue to focus on these priorities by deciding cases based on the law, by managing the court like a business and by focusing on personal responsibility.



How can court efficiency or other areas of court operations be improved and what are your plans to do so if elected?

When I took office, I focused on improving efficiencies, reducing backlogged cases, and handling delinquent fines from the 1990s to present.  

To increase efficiency, I organized the court calendar so that certain court activities happened on certain days: Mondays – jail magistration and show cause hearings; Tuesdays – civil trials; Wednesday – evictions and civil cases; Thursdays –- criminal pre-trials or trials; Fridays – emergency chambers. A copier was turned into a fax/filings or backlog. Technology was updated. Security was increased. Employees were cross-trained. New court documents were drafted.

To help pro-se litigants, I co-wrote local rules for Parker County Justice Courts and created content for the JP website. To reduce backlog, I set cases for pretrial and/or trial.  

To handle past due fines, additional man-hours were dedicated to verifying that fines were delinquent and a collection firm was hired at no cost to the county. These efficiencies and others resulted in a reduced tax burden to Parker County citizens. If re-elected, I will add content to the county JP website regarding traffic offenses, will evaluate the performance of the collection firm, and will consider implementing video magistration.

Presently, my office is being trained on new Odyssey software that will further increase our efficiency and will allow officers to electronically download their citations to the court rather than require each citation to be manually entered by court staff.



Why are you the best candidate for the position? 

I am the best candidate because of my consistent job performance for the last three years rather than events that occurred almost a half century ago. Since 2011, I have handled over 16,000 cases, magistrated over 1,000 defendants, issued over 2,150 arrest warrants and presided over 350 trials. Also, over the past three years, I saved the taxpayers approximately $540,000 due to improved efficiencies and compliance with the law.

My performance has earned me an endorsement from The Honorable Melvin Simons, who served as Justice of the Peace, Pct. 4, from 1999-2010.

Further, I am the most qualified because I am the only candidate with the experience and the education specific to the office of Justice of the Peace. I have been a licensed attorney since 1984, earning top ratings by my peers, and have 180 hours of JP training.

Also, I am the best candidate because, throughout my professional career, I deal with people calmly and courteously, I am willing to consider divergent points of view, and I treat people with dignity and respect.

Finally, I have a record of active community involvement and a demonstrated commitment to children. In my court, teenagers can avail themselves of the teen court program, based at JP4. In school attendance cases, I implemented a different approach which is more time consuming but has achieved a 96 percent success rate.



What training or experience has prepared you to do this job? In what areas do you expect to need additional training or education?

An effective justice of the peace requires competence in the law, good judicial demeanor and temperament, communication skills, management and administrative abilities, moral integrity, civic involvement and a sense of humor.  

As stated previously, I have 180 hours of Justice Court Training narrowly tailored to the duties and types of cases a JP handles: traffic offenses and Class C misdemeanors, criminal procedure, rules of (civil) practice in Justice Court, evictions, magistration, arrest and search warrants, bond conditions for DWI and family violence cases, tow hearings, personal property and animal seizures, mental health commitments, bond forfeitures, occupational licenses, administrative appeals, failure to attend school, OCA collection requirements, judicial ethics, and  numerous other specialty areas.

In addition, I have a law degree, 29 years of experience in handling simple and complex litigation of all types, business and organizational skills acquired from being an owner of an established law firm, and experience in operating a 300 cow/calf operation for 16 years.  

I also have extensive experience in volunteering for and leading local nonprofit groups without controversy.

If re-elected, I will continue to keep abreast of legislative changes and case law updates, will avail myself of relevant educational opportunities, and will continue to be actively involved in my community.