Llano County attorney Cheryll Mabray takes judge position over child protection court

CHERYLL MABRAY

CONNIE SWINNEY • PICAYUNE STAFF

LLANO — After 23 years as Llano County attorney, Cheryll Mabray has been appointed the associate judge of the Child Protection Court of the Hill Country, presiding over cases involving child abuse, neglect and custody disputes.

Mabray, who was scheduled to be sworn in Oct. 30, fills a vacancy left by Judge Rob Hoffman. Gov. Rick Perry appointed Hoffman as district judge for the newly created 452nd Judicial District Court, a five-county area including Mason and Menard counties.

The Hill Country Child Protection Court handles about 250-300 cases in Brown, Coryell, Gillespie, Lampasas, Llano, Mills and San Saba counties.

“Before, I was an advocate for the (Child Protective Services) department, doing what the department wanted in order to either re-unify the family or terminate someone’s parental rights,” Mabray said. “Now, I’m just the judge and have to hear all sides of the facts and judge the credibility of the witnesses and the evidence and make a decision on what’s in the best interest of the children.”

Mabray, whose past experience includes private practice, served as the Llano-based 33rd Judicial District assistant district attorney from 1985 to 1990 before being re-elected to a number of terms as Llano County attorney.

The Llano County attorney primarily handles class A and B misdemeanors, juvenile cases, commissioner’s court legal matters and protective orders.

The Llano County Commissioner’s Court is expected to make a decision Oct. 31 or Nov. 4 to either appoint someone to fill Mabray’s unexpired term or contract with an individual for services until a person is elected in the 2014 general election.

In the interim, the assistant county attorney will handle prosecution, while retired Judge Guilford “Gil” Jones and Judge Charles Van Orden of the Centex Child Protection Court preside over Hill Country cases, she said.

Mabray’s appointment was made by Judge Billy Ray Stubblefield of the 26th Judicial District Court in Williamson County, Judge Dean Rucker of the 318th District Court and Judge Stephen B. Ables of the 6th Administrative Judicial Region.

Mabray was one of 100 applicants narrowed to a list of three finalists.

“I’ve been prosecuting these cases and trying to get families reunited for 23 years,” she said. ” I’m not going to do something I don’t know. It’s leaving something I love behind.”

She will remain in the Llano County Courthouse but move to another office, she said.

connie@thepicayune.com