The Texas Justice Court Judges Association picked Justice of the Peace Precinct 5 James Cowart as its “Judge of the Year” at its annual conference.
Cowart has served 24 years on the bench at his justice court in Lindale.
“I was really surprised and honored,” he said. “I appreciate the association’s acknowledgement.”
The award is peer driven and voted among members around the state who are justices of the peace or justice clerks, Cowart said. He was involved in the selection process at one time, he said.
Candidates are nominated by fellow judges. A judge’s tenure and involvement in different organizations and within their community are considered in the process, he said.
JP’s have jurisdiction in misdemeanor cases, including traffic tickets and small claims civil cases.
Cowart said he has tried to be honest, fair and to listen. He said he’s heard every story during the past 2 1/2 decades on the bench.
“I may have heard a thousand cases, but it might be their first time in court and it’s the most important one to them,” he said. “Sometimes they just want to be heard, and I think they deserve to be heard.”