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Bench Exchange Program and Virtual Hearings Module

Need Help with a Backlog or Want to Help Other Courts??

As we roll into the new normal and courts begin opening up more fully, some courts have a long line for their cases to be heard, while others have about the same level of cases as before the pandemic. Less busy courts can help their busier colleagues ensure that parties have access to justice courts by lending a helping hand.

Starting in May 2021, the Texas Justice Court Training Center will maintain a list of all justices of the peace who have taken the Virtual Hearings Module, so judges in need of assistance can reach out and ask a qualified colleague to participate in a bench exchange. The helper judge would then exchange benches with the backlogged court to hold some hearings for them remotely via Zoom.

Bench exchanges and logistics of holding the virtual hearings will be handled between the courts who choose to work together, and TJCTC will only be providing the training and list of trained judges.

Find more general information about bench exchanges, forms, and a link to the list of trained judges below.

Basic of Bench Exchanges

A justice of the peace may hold court for any other justice of the peace in any Texas county at the request of that justice. Government Code § 27.054(a).

Justices may exchange benches for a period not to exceed five days at a time if the justices consider it beneficial to do so. Government Code §27.054(b).

If so desired, the bench exchange agreement can be written so that it automatically renews every five days until one of the judges opts out of the agreement or the agreement may be specific to a case.

Read more about bench exchanges in the TJCTC Officeholding Deskbook. Bench Exchange forms can be found on the TJCTC Forms Page under Officeholding Forms.

Click the button below to take the Virtual Hearings Module. 

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  • What judges have completed the virtual hearings training? 

    Judge County
    Hon. Mark Russo Rockwall County, Pct. 3
    Hon. Marian Jackson Waller County, Pct. 3
    Hon. Evelyn McLean Williamson County, Pct. 3
    Hon. Janae Holland Wood County, Pct. 2, Place 2
    Hon. Johnie Chatman El Paso County, Pct. 5
    Hon. Kerry Crews Hunt County, Pct. 2
    Hon. John Burns Hays County, Pct. 4
    Hon. Rhitt Jackson Kaufman County, Pct. 3

    Would you like to get in contact with one of the judges above to ask about a bench exchange? Email Amber at a_m1814@txstate.edu. 

  • First, complete the Virtual Hearings training. 

    Then, fill out the self-paced module certification form

    The list will be updated weekly. 

  • To remove your name from the list above, email Jessica at jessforeman@txstate.edu and simply say, "Please remove me from the virtual hearing bench exchange list."