A former longtime county court-at-law judge will fill a new general associate judge position the county created last month.
County commissioners Tuesday approved a recommendation from the area’s district judges to name David Hodges to the position with a $118,500 salary, which is ¾ the salary of a full-time district judge.
Judge Matt Johnson of Waco’s 54th State District Court said Hodges has expertise in establishing and operating specialty courts such as the veterans court and mental health court the county has proposed. Hodges will be a valuable resource in forming the new courts and in filling in when scheduling conflicts arise, Johnson said.
“Judge Hodges will also serve as a consistent backup to Judge (Gary) Coley and Judge (Vikram “Vik”) Deivanayagam. Such consistency is important for a veterans court, mental health court or DWI court,” Johnson said. “Additionally, he will be on standby for all district courts and both county courts at law if a judge is in trial and cannot conduct a plea docket or a civil docket.”
Hodges, who graduated from Baylor University Law School in 1973, was a prosecutor for three years in the McLennan County district attorney’s office and worked in private practice for six years before he was elected as a county court-at-law judge in 1982. He served in that position for 20 years.
He then moved to Austin to work for the Texas Center for the Judiciary before he started work as a visiting judge, Hodges said.
Hodges said he has already been sitting in quite a bit as a visiting judge for local judges and for judges in surrounding counties. The new role will allow him to be available at a moment’s notice in McLennan County, he said.
While serving as a visiting judge for about a year in Georgetown, Hodges had the opportunity to oversee a veterans court, he said. While Coley has agreed to handle the local veterans court cases, Hodges said he can assist when Coley gets busy with other obligations. Hodges said he will also help the county create a mental health treatment court.
His role will also be to help reduce delays in plea hearings often caused by trials that run longer than expected, Hodges said.