The Texas district judges for Parker County, unable to resolve a dispute over employee office space among themselves, took their disagreement to county commissioners court Monday morning.
Graham Quisenberry, who presides over the 415th District Court, asked commissioners and Parker County Judge Mark Riley to decide on whether the new court reporter for 43rd District Judge Craig Towson should be forced to yield her currently occupied office to the court reporter for Quisenberry’s court.
“The commissioners court is authorized under the state constitution to allot space to each department,” County Attorney John Forrest told commissioners.
“She [the longtime court reporter for the 43rd District Court] retired recently and so that office I think, technically, became open,” Quisenberry said. “It is a little larger office. It also has a window in it.”
His own court reporter wants the office, Quisenberry said.
Towson and Quisenberry talked about the issue but failed to reach an agreement before the new county employee started work so the new court reporter moved into the coveted office space around June 1.
Quisenberry argued that the court reporter with the longest tenure should have the better office as a matter of common sense.
“It seems to me there should be some other way of determining this other than us sitting here and saying yes or no on an issue that we may or may not have all the information on that is needed,” Precinct 3 County Commissioner Larry Walden said, before asking both judges whether there was any middle ground.
Both judges indicated there was not.
“Well, I know the state says that we have the authority but it seems ridiculous that we are choosing a room for somebody to be in,” Precinct 1 County Commissioner George Conley said.
Precinct 4 County Commissioner Steve Dugan expressed concern that, because the district judges took their dispute to commissioners court, commissioners would be forced to weigh in on other disagreements over office space for other county departments.
“It’s up to the commissioners court, the way I see the law,” Quisenberry said about his decision to bring this to commissioners.
The district courts building, which houses the two courts, the district clerk’s office and the district attorney’s office, is too small, Quisenberry told commissioners.
“But it is what we have and so that’s what we’re living with,” Quisenberry said.
Commissioners and the county judge unanimously voted that both court reporters remain in the offices they are currently in.
The judges’s dispute led off the commissioners court meeting but commissioners faced more pressing court space issues Tuesday.
County Court at Law 2 Judge Lynn Marie Johnson also sat in the packed courtroom, telling the commissioners later during the meeting that she may be forced to cancel court this week due to a potential public safety risk with the sagging ceiling in her own courtroom.