Touting years of criminal trial and appellate experience and an understanding of courtroom procedure, Smith County Court At Law judge candidate Jim Huggler said he is the best choice for the job.
“I have a track record of making good decisions. I’m old enough to make the tough decisions and have the experience, but young enough to try new things,” he said.
Huggler, 44, who has lived in Tyler since 1997, when he began as a misdemeanor prosecutor under then Smith County District Attorney Jack Skeen, has been married to his wife, Valerie, for 22 years, and the couple has two children.
Huggler served as the Smith County Bar president, is board certified in criminal law and criminal appellate law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Also, he has served on the Leadership Tyler Board, the Teen Court Board and various other civic boards and clubs.
“I handle all types of criminal charges, from misdemeanors to complex felonies and post-conviction matters. I also represent juveniles who are accused of engaging in delinquent or criminal conduct,” he said.
Huggler said served on the East Texas Violent Crimes Task Force and worked cases such as the Deanna Laney murder case while with the district attorney’s office. Since beginning his practice, he said he has served as defense counsel for the Mineola swingers case and the Byron Truvia case, in which Truvia, then a juvenile, fatally stabbed a John Tyler High School teacher.
The Hugglers are members of the Christ Episcopal Church, where he teaches Sunday school to teens.
Huggler said the county court at law has a lot of tools to administer justice, and, if elected, he would use every tool available to move cases through the court and ease some of the backlog built up over the past few years.
He said, for example, if you always use a hammer, then you see every person that comes before the bench as a nail.
Huggler said thousands of people pass through the court, and each person has his or her own reason why they are in court.
“Justice is not cookie cutter. This is an important court and touches literally thousands of people each year. We need a judge who cares about the community and the entire legal system,” he said.
Huggler believes serving as judge is the highest honor that a person in the legal profession can hold and a judge usually reflect the views of the community, but should follow the letter of the law.
“As a judge, you call the balls and strikes on rules of evidence and make the decisions,” he said.