He’s devoted 34 years of his life to practicing law and working hard for his clients while maintaining a level of respect from his colleagues in the legal profession that is second to none.
Now, at age 60, Gerald Eddins, managing partner of the Eddins & Bennett Law Firm in Beaumont, is ready to give back to the community. “It has been so good to me and my family,” said Eddins, who is announcing his candidacy for the County Court at Law No. 1 judge position, currently held by the Honorable Alfred “Al” Gerson, who is retiring Oct. 31 after holding the position for some 27 years.
The election will take place in November 2012, with a primary scheduled for March.
“I’ve worked hard for a lot of years, and I’m at a time in my career that I feel blessed and at a point where I have an opportunity to serve as a judge,” Eddins said.Eddins says the skills and experience he’s gained as a civil attorney — though he’s also well versed in probate, family and divorce law — have prepared him to be a successful judge who will “move the docket.” He knows firsthand he would have his work cut out for him succeeding the well-respected and accomplished Judge Gerson.“He was a friend of mine before he went on that bench, and he’s a friend of mine now,” said Eddins. “He’s a great guy, he’s very friendly … everybody basically knows him as Al. He never let anything go to his head, and if I’m fortunate enough to be elected to this position, I would hope that people would say the same about me.”
Eddins was quick to point out how fair and impartial Gerson is, and yet in legal circles, many of his peers say the exact same thing about Eddins.
“He’s dead honest, and he’s been that way all his life,” said Wayne Reaud, a prominent local attorney who has known Eddins since their days together at Texas Tech. “He’s exemplified the highest levels of integrity and honor, and he’s been that way his entire professional life. He’s not mean spirited, he’s fair, and he’s an AV-rated lawyer. He’s an excellent lawyer.”
Eddins has been an AV-rated attorney for nine consecutive years. The rating is the highest given by the Martindale-Hubble peer review system that rates attorneys.Paul Henderson, who operates a private practice out of Orange and handles cases in both Orange and Jefferson Counties, has known Eddins for 30 years and says there’s no doubt in his mind Eddins would make a great judge based on his experience and ability alone.
“I’ve always appreciated and respected Gerald; he could practice all areas of the law, was good at everything,” said Henderson. “And still is.”
Eddins said if he’s elected, he’s going to work hard, and while he’s done that as a lawyer, he said it’s important that litigants know coming into his court that they’re going to get a fair shot. Both Reaud and Henderson point out Eddins’ patience in making decisions coupled with his vast knowledge of the law will ensure that everyone who leaves his court, whether they win or lose, will know they were given their just due.
“What he understands, is that anybody who comes in front of him as a judge, it’s his decisions that affect those involved. And he’s conscious of that,” said Henderson. “He’s been that way with his clients. He understands the role of the judge and jury, and he’s a firm believer of the civil justice system. And that’s important.”
Eddins says he wants to run an efficient, effective court, where “people can get their differences resolved in very quick and effective fashion when the cases are addressed.” He said he’s very confident in his campaign and he has the right people and resources in place.
The happily married Port Arthur native – who married a Port Arthur girl, Carol – and father of five knows it will take hard work to get elected, but he’s ready, and many of those around him are confident he’ll be the next judge.
“You don’t normally get somebody of Gerald’s caliber that wants to be judge,” said Reaud. “Usually it’s somebody that’s old and ready to retire or somebody who’s young and doesn’t have any experience. But Gerald is somebody who wants to be judge and give back to the community. Some people are just winners, whether they’re a baseball player, a lawyer or a physician, and Gerald is a winner.”