Susan Werner, Justice of the Peace, Precinct 1: “I love my job.”
SAN ANGELO, TX -- Susan Werner, Justice of the Peace (JP), Precinct 1, has been in her position for 14 months.
That might not seem like a very long time to those who have several decades of a career under their belt.
But with nine years of experience as a Justice of the Peace Court Clerk, Werner came to the JP position familiar with the court environment.
Regarding her 2016 entry into the job, Werner explained her motivation.
“I felt as if God was pushing me in this direction, and I wanted to be in a position to help people, which is limited when you’re the Court Clerk.”
It was difficult for Werner to give me a ‘day in the life of a JP,’ explaining, “Any day could be different from the day before, and some days your feet never hit the floor ground.”
“When we get up in the morning, the on-call JP will we go magistrate at the jail, and that’s seven days a week.’
“Then we go to our individual courts.
With regard to “justice” Werner said, “In our criminal court, we make sure the defendant understands the charges and what options they might have within the law.”
“The decisions we make can affect a person’s life. I take that very seriously.”
“Everybody gets their day in court.”
On-call is also part of the responsibilities of a JP, and that includes calls at any time of the day or night.
“Right now I’m on-call [at the day of this story] for things like traffic fatalities, or any unattended or unexpected deaths, including suicides.”
“An unattended death, could be a fall in the home when a person is alone, natural causes, a car accident, or if death occurs as a result of a crime we work with whatever department—sheriff’s department, or police department—that is involved in the inquest to determine cause and manner of the death.”
“A medical doctor cannot certify a death certificate under those circumstances.
The JP can also issue a request for an autopsy when events warrant it, or a toxicology test to determine the cause and manner of the circumstances surrounding a death.
“The family can request an autopsy at their expense.”
Asked how many such incidents occur, Werner replied, “it averages about six to 12 occurrences a week,” spread among the four precincts.
Werner’s challenger for the general election in November is Sally Ayana, a first-time political candidate.
When asked about the election, Werner replied, “I don’t have the same amount of time as my opponent to campaign due to my working full time but I do what I can when I can.”
“With everything else we do, there are mandatory training classes to attend.”
“And within the last 10 years, including my time as Court Clerk, I’ve accumulated over 300 hours of required training and any other available training so I could learn as much as I can so that I can apply the apply the law appropriately.”