Tyler attorney Jason Ellis, who announced officially on Thursday that he is running for Smith County Court at Law judge, has several ideas about streamlining the docket in that court.
"I want to deny continuances and hold jail calls more frequently," the 31-year-old said.
Ellis has three opponents who are vying for the seat, which will be vacated when Judge Thomas Dunn retires on December 31, 2014. Dunn has held that post since 1996.
Ellis will run as a Republican in the March primary against Tyler attorneys Jim Huggler and Brent Ratekin. Attorney and mediator Mike Patterson, also of Tyler, is running for the same seat.
Ellis said it costs about $70 per day to keep a Smith County inmate in jail, and even more to send the prisoners outside of the county. "The Smith County taxpayer has to pay for that," he said, adding that the longer the prisoner sits in jail, the more it costs. Instead of loading up the prisoners for jail call and taking them to the courtroom where the judge sits, Ellis said it would make more sense to hold court inside of the Smith County jail, where there is a courtroom. "It's easier to move one of me than all of them," he said.
Ellis also believes in a judge being on call and staying late if necessary to be able to sign warrants and set bonds, especially in domestic violence cases or to process emergency orders in family law cases. "My wife Andrea is a family physician, and she is often on call," he said. He said he has the energy to get the job done.
Before a group of supporters in the Smith County Commissioner's courtroom, Ellis said a good judge "must be involved and in touch and must be above playing favorites."
He and his wife, Dr. Andrea Ellis, a family physician at Trinity Mother Frances, have been married for five years. Ellis attended law school at the Dedman School of Law at Southern Methodist University.