Spring Judicial Education Session

March 27 - 29, 2019

Overton Hotel & Conference Center
2322 Mac Davis Ln.
Lubbock, TX 79401

Thank you for your interest in the Spring Judicial Education Session. Online registration has closed, but you may still register onsite. For more information contact Allyssa Lee​ or Adrienne Bethke at (800) 456-5974.

Sponsored By

The Texas Judicial Academy is a partnership between the Texas Association of Counties and the Texas Tech University School of Law.


The Spring Education Session of the Texas Judicial Academy will give you an excellent opportunity to fellowship with and learn from judges from across the state discussing a wide range of topics that impact your judicial duties. The County Judges Education Advisory Committee has designed a curriculum that will not only constitute an in-depth review of core topics, but will also address short topics of interest and introduce you to several new, cutting-edge programs being used successfully in other jurisdictions.


This program is partially funded by a Judicial and Court Personnel Training Fund Grant administered by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. In accordance with the grant guidelines, judges may be reimbursed for attendance to the Spring Judicial Education Session, the Spring Judicial Education Session or Texas College of Probate Judges, up to $750 total per fiscal year.

All travel reservations made through third party vendors (Hotels.com, Expedia.com, Booking.com, etc.) cannot be reimbursed. For more information on reimbursement, please call Michele Mund at (800) 456-5974.

Reimbursements must be submitted to TAC within 60 days of the event.  Any reimbursement received after 60 days will not be reimbursedReimbursement may be provided for county judges only.

Who Should Attend

County Judges


Early conference registration is $125 through March 11. After March 11, registration is $150.

Registration fees are voluntary and used for expenses that are unallowable or are insufficiently covered by the Judicial and Court Personnel Training Fund Grant. This includes speaker fees, materials, meals, and social activities. Fees collected are deposited to a fund held for county judges education within the general revenue funds for the Texas Association of Counties.

County Judges Education Advisory Committee

Hon. Becky A. Wilbanks, Chair, Cass County Judge
Hon. Don Allred, Oldham County Judge
Hon. Brett Bray, Blanco County Judge
Hon. Ronnie J. Gordon, Hartley County Judge
Hon. Woodrow “Woody” Gossom, Jr., Wichita County Judge
Hon. Justin Lewis, Hill County Judge
Hon. Francisco Ponce, Dimmit County Judge
Hon. Byron Ryder, Leon County Judge
Hon. Jimmy Sylvia, Chambers County Judge
Hon. Mark Allen, Jasper County Judge
Ms. Jamie Baker, Associate Law Librarian and Interim Director, Texas Tech University School of Law Library (ex-officio)
Ms. Alyson Drake, Assistant Director for Public Services, Director of the Excellence in Legal Research Program, and Assistant Law Librarian, Texas Tech University School of Law (ex-officio)

Overton Hotel & Conference Center
2322 Mac Davis Ln.
Lubbock, TX 79401
(806) 776-7000

For reservations, call (806) 776-7000 and request space in the Texas Association of Counties room block. Single rooms at the prevailing GSA rate of $94 are limited so please make your reservation as soon as possible. The deadline for these guaranteed room rates is March 11.

Thursday, March 28
5:30 p.m. Reception Honoring the Fellows of the Judicial Academy

*Agenda is subject to change.

Tuesday, March 26
1-5:10 p.m. Commissioners Court Administrative Training Program
2-5 p.m. Registration Desk Open
Wednesday, March 27
7 a.m.- 5 p.m. Registration, Foyer
8 a.m. Call to Order and Introductions
8:15-9:15 a.m. Judicial Discretion
As a judge, the ability to exercise discretion in the courtroom remains critical in the state of Texas. In this session, we will review the areas where a judge can exercise judicial discretion and offer tips for determining when this is appropriate. Speaker: Hon. Susan M. Redford, Executive Director, Texas Association of Counties
9:15 a.m. Break
9:30-10:30 a.m. Inquests
This session will examine Article 49 of the Code of Criminal Procedure regarding the role of justices of the peace and county judges when dealing with inquests.
Speaker: Hon. David Cobos, Justice of the Peace, Pct. 2, Midland County
10:30 a.m. Break
10:45-11:45 a.m. Protective Orders
This session will review the authority, jurisdiction, procedures and considerations mandated by Section 71 of the Texas Family Code for protective orders and family violence. We will also examine duties of law enforcement regarding family violence prevention, specifically as set forth in Texas CCP, Section 5.04 and the challenges presented to county judges. Speaker: Hon. Mary Cunningham, Judicial Program Manager, Texas Association of Counties
Noon Lunch & Learn: Impaired Driving and the Effects of Marijuana on Texas Roads and Lakes
Speaker: Ms. Kelsey Downing, Assistant County District Attorney, Aransas County
1:15-2:15 p.m. Judicial Emergency Preparedness
County judges spend hours working in the role of emergency manager for the county. In light of recent events, it is more important now than ever to make sure your court has a plan to continue operations in the wake of a disaster.
Speakers: Hon. Rowdy Rhoades, Moore County Judge
Ms. Brandi Ashby-Fisher, Field Response, Texas Department of Emergency Management

Mr. Tommy Brooks, Emergency Management Coordinator, Moore County
2:15 p.m. Break
2:30-3:30 p.m. Judicial Legislative Update
This session will provide a look into the legislation that has been presented during the 86th Legislative Session and the potential impacts these legislative efforts may have on county courts.
Speaker: Hon. Garry Merritt, General Counsel and Director of Legal and Legislative Services, Texas Association of Counties
3:30 p.m. Break
3:45-4:45 p.m. Pretrial Diversions
This session will outline the necessary steps and procedures to utilize a pre-trial diversion program as an alternative option to sentencing and pleas in special cases such as first offenders, mental health issues and other special circumstances.
Speaker: Hon. Becky Lange, County Attorney, Llano County
4:45 p.m. Recess
Thursday, March 28
7 a.m.-5 p.m. Registration, Foyer
8-9 a.m. Mental Health Issues in Juvenile Cases
The Texas juvenile justice system is experiencing lower numbers of cases filed, but the cases that are filed usually involve more severe charges and come with more complex issues including the mental health of the juveniles charged. This session will focus on the issues related to youth in the juvenile justice system including fitness to proceed determinations, lack of responsibility, treatment options at the local and state level, and an examination of successful programs which can influence our juvenile justice system.
Speaker: Hon. Brett Bray, Blanco County Judge
9 a.m. Break
9:15-10:15 a.m. Texas Juvenile Justice Department Regionalization Update
Participants will be provided an update on efforts related to Senate Bill 1630 as passed by the 84th Texas Legislature dealing with regionalization and the continued diversion of youth from the Texas Juvenile Justice Department. Also, a review of agency and division efforts will be reviewed related to the juvenile probation field.
Speakers: Ms. Ashley Kintzer, Regionalization Planner, Texas Juvenile Justice Department
Mr. Mark Williams, Regional Program Administrator, Texas Juvenile Justice Department
10:15 a.m. Break
10:30-11:30 a.m. Bail Bond Forfeitures
This presentation will cover the basics of bond forfeiture proceedings, including the different types of bail bonds, how bail bonds are forfeited, and the method in which a bond forfeiture proceeding is initiated through final disposition of the civil case.
Speaker: Mr. Andrew Wipke, Assistant District Attorney, Lubbock County District Attorney’s Office
11:30 a.m. Lunch on your Own
1-2 p.m. Successfully Managing Guardianship Cases
With recent scrutiny of the way courts are handling guardianship cases, this panel discussion will focus on programs that have implemented measures to better manage these important cases.
Speakers: Mr. Jeff Rinard, Certification Division Director, Office of Court Administration
Ms. Cryctal Spradley, Assistant Director of Court Administration, Lubbock County
2 p.m. Break
2:15-3:15 p.m. Sentencing Options, Terms of Probation, and Probation Recovations
This session will discuss the terms and conditions of probation including statutory guidelines, presentence evaluations, and conditions for specific misdemeanor offenses. We will also discuss sentencing options that use adult probation and the process of revoking probation.
Speaker: Hon. Deborah Earley, County Attorney, Blanco County
3:15 p.m. Break
3:30-4:30 p.m. Alternatives to Regular Probate
Not all estates need to be handled with a traditional independent or dependent administration. This session will discuss a wide range of probate alternatives with which you should be familiar, including (1) non-probate assets, (2) probating a will as a muniment of title, (3) the family allowance small estate, (4) the small (intestate) estate affidavit, (5) determination of heirship, and (6) emergency intervention proceedings.
Speaker: Prof. Gerry W. Beyer, Governor Preston E. Smith Regents Professor of Law, Texas Tech University School of Law
4:30-5:30 p.m. Moderated Discussion
5:30 p.m. Recess
5:30-7 p.m. Reception Honoring the Fellows of the Texas Judicial Academy
Friday, March 29
7 a.m.-noon Registration, Foyer
8-9 a.m. Social Media and Ethics for Judges
The explosion of social media has affected how county judges handle cases in the courtroom, interact with attorneys and litigants, and even campaign for office. This session will focus on how Internet access, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media have affected judges inside and outside the courtroom.
Speaker: Hon. M. Sue Kurita, Judge, El Paso County Court at Law No. 6
9 a.m. Break
9:15-10:15 a.m. DWI Case Law Update
This session will summarize recent significant caselaw related to impaired driving cases.
Speaker: Hon. Ryan Kellus Turner, General Counsel and Director of Education, Texas Municipal Courts Education Center
10:15 a.m. Break
10:30-11:30 a.m. Mental Health Evaluations and Compliance
This discussion will center around the use of evaluation tools, forms and procedures from arrest through trial. The objective is to order mental health evaluations in compliance with current law and procedures for JPs, jails and trials. Speaker: Hon. Mary Cunningham, Judicial Program Manager, Texas Association of Counties
11:30 a.m. Adjourn

*Agenda is subject to change.

The Spring Judicial Education Session provides 16 hours of judicial education credit for constitutional county judges. Application is pending with the State Bar of Texas to determine MCLE credit for attorneys.

All cancellation and refund requests must be received in writing (fax or email acceptable) on or before March 13 (less $10 administrative fee). Cancellations and refunds after March 13 will be subject to an administrative fee equal to one-half of the registration fee. No refund requests will be honored after April 12.
Please email Adrienne Bethke at adrienneb@county.org or send fax to (512) 477-1324 to cancel your conference registration.

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