1700 Wilbarger Street Room 12
Vernon, TX 76384
Phone: (940) 553-2300
Fax: (940) 553-1766
The Texas Constitution vests broad judicial and administrative powers in the position of county judge, who presides over a five-member commissioners court, which has budgetary and administrative authority over county government operations.
The county judge handles such widely varying matters as hearings for beer and wine license applications, hearing on admittance to state hospitals for the mentally ill and mentally retarded, juvenile work permits and temporary guardianships for special purposes. The judge is also responsible for calling elections, posting election notices and for receiving and canvassing the election returns. The county judge may perform marriages.
A county judge in Texas may have judicial responsibility for certain criminal, civil and probate matters - responsibility for these functions vary from county to county. In those counties in which the judge has judicial responsibilities, the judge has appellate jurisdiction over matters arising from the justice courts. The county judge is also head of civil defense and disaster relief, county welfare and in counties under 225,000 population, the judge prepares the county budget along with the county auditor or county clerk.
An excerpt from the Texas State Historical Association:
The county judge, called "chief justice" by early constitutions, was appointed by the Congress of the Republic of Texas for four-year terms until the office was made elective in 1841. The term of office was shortened to two years in the constitutions of 1845 and 1861.qqv Under the Constitution of 1866 the name was changed to county judge, and the term was again four years. The office was abolished by the Constitution of 1869 but was reestablished with an elective two-year term by the Constitution of 1876. A constitutional amendment passed in 1954 increased the term of office to four years. The main duties of the county judge are to serve as presiding officer of the county commissioners' court, judge of the county court, and budgeting officer of the county; he also has numerous duties pertaining to elections. In counties having fewer than 3,000 students the county judge serves as ex officio county school superintendent.