After Jefferson County’s 252nd Criminal District Court was vacated by Judge Layne Walker, who announced his departure late in 2013, Gov. Rick Perry has appointed 34-year-old Lindsey Scott, one of many criminal prosecutors currently working at the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office, to the position.
Scott, a graduate of Texas A&M and of the South Texas College of Law in Houston, said she’s got her work cut out for her while in the interim position and plans to put her seven years of experience in Jefferson County’s criminal courts to good use.
“There is no better way to learn than doing it every day and that’s what I’ve been doing every day,” Scott said in a telephone interview with The Examiner. “I’ve tried cases in front of every criminal judge in that courthouse, so I feel like I’ve had the benefit of watching all of them.”
Currently, Jefferson County’s 252nd Criminal District Court has more cases awaiting trial than Scott and others would like.
“I believe there’s close to 400 or 500. Think about it. There are 52 weeks in a year. How many cases can you try in a year? There’s only so much you can do, so that’s a lot of people waiting for a trial,” Scott said. “More importantly, I think there are people in jail waiting for trial. To be out on bond, living in a free world is one thing. But to be in jail that long ... There are some that are a couple of years old. There are people who’ve been sitting in jail for two years and haven’t had their trial yet, and that’s something we’ve got to deal with.”
With a steady stream of convictions and pleas from Judge John Stevens’ Criminal District Court — many of which were prosecuted by Scott — the 252nd Criminal District Court next door has been slow in comparison. Scott said when Stevens took to the bench, his court had a similar backlog.
“It’s taken until now. This year, maybe last year, he finally got his docket down to about 150 cases on his trial docket, and most of those cases are under six months old,” Scott said. “That’s taken seven years. They’ve worked hard in there.”
But Scott shied away from talk of who would be best for the 252nd seat in the upcoming March 4 primary election, after which her newly appointed, interim seat will be filled by the voters of Jefferson County.
“I think this is going to be a big job for whoever is elected to this bench,” she said. “This isn’t something that’s going to be corrected overnight, solved overnight, by any means. It’s just not, but we’ll just have to get in there and do as many as we can.”
Scott also shied away from commenting on her predecessor, Judge Walker.
When asked how her interim tenure in Walker’s former seat would be different, Scott said, “I can only tell you what I plan on doing, which is getting in there and getting to work.”
Scott will be sworn in Monday, Feb. 3, at 10 a.m. at the Jefferson County Courthouse in Judge Gary Sanderson’s 60th Civil District Court.