BY DAYNA WORCHEL, firstname.lastname@example.org
Tyler defense attorney Jim Huggler believes that being a judge is one of the highest levels of service that an attorney can undertake.
The 44-year-old former Smith County prosecutor who has been a private practice criminal defense attorney for 10 years said his experience in both criminal and in appellate law makes him the most qualified of his three opponents for the soon-to-be-vacant Smith County Court at Law Judge position. Judge Thomas Dunn is retiring from that post on Dec. 31, 2014 after holding the position since 1996.
“I have spent my career making tough decisions, both as a prosecutor and as a defense attorney, and I have handled some of the toughest defense cases in the county,” he said. “I had to defend my client and I did that fairly well,” he said. A judge must look at tough cases on a daily basis and make tough decisions on a daily basis, Huggler said.
There are ways to run the County Court at Law more efficiently with the other players such as the District Attorney’s Office and the County Clerk’s office, Huggler said.
“A County Court at Law needs a judge with experience in trying cases and having hearings as efficiently as possible given the case load — there are thousands of cases now pending in the County Court at Law,” he said.
“I have always believed in service — I was active as a volunteer in the District Attorney’s office from 1997 to 2003, and when I left I became more involved in the Chamber of Commerce, the Smith County Bar Association and Leadership Tyler,” he said.
Huggler is dually board certified in both criminal and appellate law — an accomplishment which only one percent of Texas attorneys have earned, he said. His experience in appellate law has allowed him to review the work of other attorneys and judges.
“I know what kinds of errors can be reversed and what can cause a case to be reversed,” he said.
He will run as a Republican in the March primary against Tyler attorneys Jason Ellis and Brent Ratekin. Attorney and mediator Mike Patterson, also of Tyler, is running for the same seat.
Huggler and his wife Valerie have been married for 22 years and have two daughters, ages 14 and 7. He is an active member of Christ Episcopal Church where he has led youth missions and served on the vestry.