Al Scoggins enjoys his work as a justice on Waco’s 10th Court of Appeals, but frankly, he’s just tired of the three-hour round trip drive to the McLennan County Courthouse and back to his home in Ellis County.
Scoggins, 63, said he will notify the governor’s office Thursday that he intends to retire with four years remaining on his six-year term.
Scoggins plans to leave office in January and said he wants to give Gov. Greg Abbott time to appoint his successor by announcing his retirement in September.
Three people, including a state district judge, Scoggins’ staff attorney and a longtime Republican Party activist, said Wednesday they will seek the appointment. Also, two state district judges, including one who ran for 10th Court of Appeals chief justice, said they are considering it.
“I just got tired of driving back and forth to Waco,” Scoggins said. “I don’t even want to think about how many miles I have driven in the eight years I have been on the court.”
Ellis County officials provided Scoggins with an office at the Waxahachie courthouse so he did not have to make the 90-minute trek to Waco every workday. Still, he said, the miles took their toll on him.
Scoggins, who defeated Justice Felipe Reyna in the March 2010 Republican primary, is the first person from Ellis County to be elected to the court.
He was appointed Ellis County judge when he was 28, served 10 years as an Ellis County Court-at-Law judge and became a state district judge in Ellis County in 1995.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed the work here on the court of appeals,” Scoggins said. “It was a difficult decision. I was fortunate to work with fantastic people on the court and with an outstanding court staff.”
Justice Rex Davis said he is disappointed to see Scoggins retire.
“Over the years that I have served with Judge Scoggins, I have found that he has an excellent judicial temperament,” Davis said. “He is an extremely intelligent and fair-minded person, and I will miss him greatly.”
The 10th Court of Appeals is a three-judge panel and is one of 14 intermediate appellate courts in Texas. It hears both civil and criminal appeals from courts in an 18-county Central Texas region.
Several seeking appointment
Among those lining up for the gubernatorial appointment is Vicki Menard, judge of Waco’s 414th State District Court for the past 13 years. Former Gov. Rick Perry appointed Menard the first judge of the court when it was created in 2005.
Waco attorney and businesswoman Gina Parker also said she will seek the appointment to Scoggins’ position. Parker, who has been in private law practice since 1991, also owns a dental manufacturing business and has served as a state prosecutor in Bell and McLennan counties.
Parker ran unsuccessfully for state Republican Party chairwoman and has served as chairwoman of the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. She also served as national judicial reform chairwoman for the National Eagle Forum.
Also seeking the appointment is Rick Bradley, 36, Scoggins’ staff attorney. Bradley has worked for the Waco court for more than seven years and held a similar position with the 13th Court of Appeals in Edinburg for five years.
The two judges who said Wednesday they are considering seeking the appointment are 361st State District Judge Steve Smith, of Brazos County, who challenged Chief Justice Tom Gray in 2012, and 18th State District Judge John Neill, of Johnson County, who was appointed judge in 1998 by former Gov. George W. Bush.
Abbott’s appointment will have to run for election in 2020 and again in 2022, when Scoggins’ term expires.