Judicial candidate seeks to expand court’s docket

By David Yates | Sep 18, 2012

If elected, Republican Rick Williams, a Golden Triangle attorney pursuing a judgeship, will labor to expand the docket of the 136th District Court.

Williams announced his candidacy last December, seeking to supplant long-time incumbent Judge Milton Shuffield, a Democrat, for the Jefferson County 136th District Court.

During a Sept. 11 interview, Williams told the Southeast Texas Record his primary motivation for running is to expand the 136th docket, saying Judge Shuffield only disposed of 800 cases last year, the majority of them civil.

“The first thing I’ll do is bring in family law cases,” Williams said. “That’s where the biggest backlog is.”

However, Judge Shuffield, whose court specializes in civil litigation, pointed out to the Record that family law cases, matters like name changes and adoptions, are resolved “exponentially” faster than civil cases, which require mandated discovery periods.

In 2006, Governor Rick Perry appointed Williams, who has extensive experience in family law, to the 279th District Court, one of two family law courts in Jefferson County, after the death of Judge Tom Mulvaney. While on the bench, Williams said he managed to dispose of more than 2,700 cases in one year

Conversely, in the last 16 years, Judge Shuffield has only managed to dispose of 11,000 cases, Williams said.

“You can do the math. I would be embarrassed,” he said. “I don’t have anything negative to say about Judge Shuffield other than he’s not doing the job. We can do better.”

In response, Judge Shuffield said comparing civil and family law matters is like comparing apples and oranges, and that crowding your docket with both cases will ultimately diminish the service litigants receive.

“If you need knee surgery, you don’t go to a family doctor,” Shuffield said. “You’re going to a specialized surgeon.”

To help shed the docket of cases, Williams said he would have “no problem whatsoever dismissing a frivolous lawsuit,” so long as the evidence provided at summary judgment shows the case to be frivolous.

He added that allowing frivolous cases to continue unimpeded would waste the court’s time and taxpayer money.

Since 1994, the Law Offices of Rick Williams practice areas include business law, development consulting and family law.

Williams lives in Nederland and has been married to his wife Amy for 37 years. They have two children.

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