A county judge serves as both presiding officer of the commissioner’s court with voting rights and as a judge of the county court. He is often thought of as an executive official in county government, offering advice and guidance on county issues when required. A county judge’s duties entail a rich mixture of both administrative and judicial duties.
A county judge deals with a wide variety of matters ranging from liquor license applications to granting asylum admittance for the mentally challenged to small-scale property estate proceedings. He is also responsible for instigating elections and for serving notice of the election. A county judge can also issue delayed birth certificates and can administer government grants and contracts for a given county.
In counties where a judge holds judicial powers, he can conduct appellate hearings dealing with unresolved matters from the justice courts. The county judge also serves as the head of civil defense matters and disaster relief operations. County judges carry sole jurisdiction in probate cases involving mental health issues and parental custody. A county judge can sometimes be responsible for cases involving chemically dependent drug addicts, as indicated on the Liberty County website. A county judge can also conduct marriages and can take on the responsibilities of a coroner when required.
The duties of a county judge vary widely depending on the county in which he sits. This is because judicial control and responsibility often overlap with the jurisdiction of statutory county courts. In some counties in the United States, elements of county court control have been delegated to district courts. In major cities, the role of a county judge is mainly administrative as they wield little judicial power. In counties with a population below 225,000, a county judge helps draw up the county budget with the assistance of a county auditor or clerk as stated on the Texas Association of Counties website.
County judges typically hold jurisdiction in civil matters when the amount under dispute falls within the region of $500 to $5,000, as observed on the Dallam County website. County judges also have some power when dealing with issues of probate and class C misdemeanors. They also have sole jurisdiction in misdemeanors categorized as class A or B when the fine inflicted on the appellant is no higher than $3,000. A county judge also performs duties in juvenile proceedings and is permitted to sit on the county juvenile board.