KARNES CITY – Judge Daisy Villanueva walks into the local lockup, ready for an inmate’s court appearance.
"To the jail, to the annex, to go give reports, there are inquests we have to go do. We also have bench trials. We also have jury trials,” said Villanueva.
Call it a laundry-list - a to-do list. Call it a typical day for a Karnes County justice of the peace.
It’s not just her shoes she puts the miles on. Villanueva and her three counterparts log hundreds of miles along Karnes County roads and byways. That’s where Eagle Ford Shale traffic has picked up - and where traffic deaths and late night DWIs have picked up, too.
“When we leave at 5 o’clock the day is not done for us. We may get called out in the middle of the night to go and do an inquest, to do a blood warrant on a DWI,” said Villanueva.
When they’re not acting like medical examiners, the JPs are shuffling papers, brought on by the increase in population. In fact, Villanueva says the Karnes County JPs have seen their caseloads increase nearly 300 percent.
“I’m having to help my clerk so that we don’t stay so far behind,” she added.
Villanueva has been presiding nearly 14 years. And it isn’t the $27,000 yearly salary that keeps her on the bench.
She says it’s a love for the people - and it keeps her busy.