In June, the Texas Legislature passed a bill, which was signed into law by Governor Perry, creating the new 452nd Judicial District. At the same time, the creation of this newest district also reduces the size of the 198th (which Mason County is currently in) and the 216th.
Under the new alignment for the 452nd Judicial District, Mason will join Edwards, Kimble, Menard and McCulloch counties. A new District Judge and District Attorney will need to be appointed by the Governor in order to begin administration and staffing of the office, which will be located in one of the five member counties.
All five of the counties comprising the 452nd were previously in the 198th Judicial District which also included Kerr County. Kerr and Bandera will now compose the 198th, while Gillespie, Kendall and part of Kerr will be in the 216th.
For Mason County voters, and those in our other 452nd counties, the heavy weight of voters in Kerr County, as opposed to our less sparsely populated rural counties, will no longer give one community a greater influence in electing the individuals that represent the voters in the district.
County officials in the counties affected by the changes have all issued statements praising the realignment, noting that processing times should be reduced, as should corresponding jail backlogs and judicial caseloads throughout the region.
The focus will now shift to Governor Perry's office, as he must appoint the officials for the 452nd until the next election in 2014. There have been a number of individuals in almost all of the five counties expressing interest in filling those vacancies, and Family Court Judge Rob Hofmann, as well as Mason County Attorney Shain Chapman, have both indicated to the Governor's office that they are interested in the appointment as District Judge. As there is no timeframe for the Governor to make the announcement of his choice, it is still unclear when the 452nd can begin operations as a functioning district.
Mason's former district, the 198th, has already begun easing back their caseloads in Mason and the other counties so that the officials in the 198th don't begin operations on cases that they would then have to hand over to the new staff members once they are named. This could, presumably, result in a temporary increase in the wait time for court cases for individuals awaiting disposition in the counties of the 452nd; but, there is no way to predict how long that wait may last.