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THAT’S MY JOB: Deb and Bill Edwards serve justice together

Deb and Bill Edwards outside of her Llano County Precinct 3 justice of the peace office, which is next door to his Precinct 3 constable office. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

When Deb and Bill Edwards tell each other “see you in court,” they mean the Llano County Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace courtroom where Deb presides and Bill serves as bailiff. 

During their 45-year marriage, Bill has spent the past 20 years as the Kingsland-area constable. Deb was sworn in as justice of the peace in 2018 after serving as a court clerk for seven years. Both of them accepted their positions with reluctance but ended up dedicating themselves wholly to their work.

After the couple moved to Kingsland from California in 1997, Bill joined the Kingsland Volunteer Fire Department and made fast friends with other service-minded locals, such as former Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Rudy Cunningham. The JP convinced Bill to finish out the remaining two years of a term for a constable who had just resigned. Twenty years later, Bill’s still on the job.

Deb was asked by good friend Era Marion, the Precinct 3 justice of the peace at the time, to take a job as one of her court clerks in 2011. When Marion retired in 2018, the Llano County Commissioners Court asked Deb to finish out her term. She has been re-elected twice and will end her current term in 2026.

Both justice of the peace and constable are county-elected positions with four-year terms. The Edwardses have been serving Precinct 3 for a collective 32 years. 

Here is what they have to say about their jobs.

DEB EDWARDS

Llano County Precinct 3 justice of the peace

I hear court cases, I hear civil cases. In those civil cases are evictions, debt claims, repair and remedies, and small claims cases. The court also handles citations. When a defendant gets a ticket, they come in and take care of that through this office. So that’s what we do on a daily basis: set court and take care of citations.

Our courts are open to the public. If you want to pop in and hear one of our cases, you’re welcome to come. This is a people’s court. You don’t have to have an attorney to come to this court or file a case. I perform weddings, too. We’re here for the people. 

People are able to represent themselves. It doesn’t cost a fortune, like with an attorney representing them. They can do it themselves. That’s why it’s important to have a JP.

Also, I am responsible for doing inquests, which is not a fun part of my job. If people pass away, we have to go out and pronounce them (dead) and take care of them and things like that. I’ve had two children (in the precinct) that have passed away, and that is hard. Every death is hard.

I get a lot of thank you’s and I give a lot of thank you’s. I have a really good rapport in our community, and that matters a lot because I care about people and I care about what people think of me. I don’t care about what you have or you don’t have. I look at you as an individual. I want to make sure that everyone is treated fairly. I want to make sure that this office is run to the best of its ability. What we do affects people’s lives.

BILL EDWARDS

Llano County Precinct 3 constable

A constable is responsible for protecting the court and serving as bailiff when court’s in session. I’ve also got to serve all the papers that come out of the court or from anywhere else in the state. My job is to go serve papers no matter what. If I get a lawsuit for someone on my desk, I have to find them and give them that lawsuit. I’ll get a last-known address, and a lot of times, they’re no good, so you’ve got to go scare ’em up.

I have the same authority as any other peace officer in Texas. We can go out and run radars, do drug busts, or anything anybody else does. 

Part of our job with the court is security. My number one priority is to protect the judge and the clerks when court is in session. We make sure there are no hidden weapons or trouble. I can only think of one case in 20 years when there was trouble. I stand right behind the defendants, and if they start to get up, I just put a hand on their shoulder and they go back down. The constables were the first actual law enforcement in Texas, in the Texas constitution. I’m here to take care of the court, guard the court, and make sure that nothing dastardly happens while court is in session. 

I like the fact that I can get out and help folks. That is what has kept me going: just being able to have a foot in the door to help people who need a hand getting back up when they’re down.

dakota@thepicayune.com