With a vote from the Jefferson County’s Commissioner’s Court on Monday, Feb. 24, a Port Arthur lawyer and a personal family friend of Judge John Paul Davis was appointed the newest judge of County Court at Law No. 3.
The death of Davis, whose tenure as County Court at Law No. 3 judge spanned the last 20 years, represented a personal loss for Langston Adams.
“Judge Davis was a very close friend of mine. With his loss, the entire legal community is losing one of its greatest heroes,” Adams said. “At the same time, there’s this opportunity I’ve been given to serve the people of Jefferson County. I’m very thankful to the Commissioner’s Court for giving me that opportunity.”
County Judge Jeff Branick said Adams’ energetic attitude should serve him well in one of Jefferson County’s busiest courts.
“I’m hopeful that he’ll be up and running quickly because that’s an extremely busy court that needs someone there every day of the week,” Branick said.
Branick said the importance of a competent judge in Court at Law No. 3 cannot be overstated, as it is one of two whose dockets are comprised almost entirely of misdemeanor defendants who will sit in the Jefferson County Jail if a judge does not move the docket.
Branick said, “We need to keep those courts moving to see that people have access to swift justice and that taxpayers aren’t burdened with jailing people that have committed a misdemeanor” and don’t warrant jail time.
Branick said commissioners voted to appoint someone who was not currently running for the Court at Law No. 3 seat and who promised to not run for the seat after the interim position is over. Currently, attorneys Audwin Samuel and Terrance Holmes are running in the Democratic primary, the winner of which will face Jefferson County prosecutor Clint Woods, a Republican, in the November election.
“When a vacancy occurs, we would prefer that Commissioner’s Court not usurp the will of voters, so we made a habit of selecting individuals who promised they weren’t running for the seat in the interim period they serve,” Branick said. “When you appoint someone to fill a vacant position, you want them to work at that position; you don’t want them to have to be out campaigning.”
Looking back on his relationship with the late Judge Davis, Adams’ nostalgia moved to gratitude as he remembered his first case after graduating from St. Mary’s law school in 2002.
“When I got out of law school, I didn’t have any clients, no cases and the guy who gave me my first case was John Paul Davis. He gave me a court-appointed case out of his court.”
Adams said he’s confident he’ll be able to keep the same integrity and pace of case clearance the late Judge Davis, but won’t be changing the court to his own liking.
“I’m only going to be there for 10 months. Whoever wins the election in November ... I think major changes should come from that person,” Adams said. “I just see myself as someone who will continue what Judge Davis has already done and hand them in November a court that functions well and continues to serve the people.”