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Willacy Co. Plans to Hire More Clerks to Lessen JPs’ Workload

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RAYMONDVILLE – Willacy County officials are looking to hire more clerks as they restructure its Justice of the Peace positions.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS learned commissioners approved to reduce the number of JP positions from five to three.

Willacy County Judge Aurelio Guerra said the move is to fill in the gaps left by job cuts almost two years ago.

“We feel that at this point and time, for us to be able to do this would probably be the best time to do it,” he said.

The Justice of the Peace offices started closing on Fridays due to staff shortages in 2015.  

Guerra said they couldn’t keep their doors open without sufficient employees. In order to change this, he said they decided to hire more clerks.

“I think the clerks or employees would be less burdened and ultimately I think the JPs themselves would be able to perform their obligations better,” he said.

Guerra said only three JPs were on duty since the beginning of this year.

“We do have a Justice of the Peace who has retired. We have another Justice of the Peace that’s been out on leave and we don’t know what the future holds for him,” he said.

The county judge said they plan to use the money to hire more clerks instead of hiring two more JPs.

Resident Diana Castillo said she worries about any negative impact the change may have.

“It concerns us but hopefully it’s not that bad… We’ll keep our eyes open and hopefully it will be better,” she said.

Guerra said the current Justice of the Peace judges are on board with the plan. If the change doesn’t work out of the county, he said they will go back to having five JPs.

The Justice of the Peace has multiples roles for a county. They deal with traffic fines, civil cases, landlord and tenant disputes. A JP can also rule the cause of death of a person who dies within the county. 

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