2021 Judicial Awards
The following award recipients were nominated by their peers and recognized for their contribution to the fair and impartial administration of justice at the 2021Annual Meeting.
Judge Lacy Britten
Claudia Quintero (Euless), Judge Lacy Britten, Lisa Howard (Hurst)
The Honorable Lacy Britten of Hurst/Euless has been selected by the Texas Municipal Courts Association to receive the Association’s Jurist of the Year Award. Here are a few reasons why as submitted by her peers.
She is the type of Judge that you do not have to second guess or nudge along to get an answer for things. She is clear and concise in procedures, forms and orders. She is articulate, detail oriented and a master at creating forms and orders.
She is pro-active and on top of her game when it cones to efficient and effective judicial practices. She treats people equally, fair and just in the physical courtroom as well as the virtual courtroom. She adapted like a pro to the virtual format for holding court, although it wasn't the preferred way to handle proceedings, she knew it had to be done to protect the rights of individuals as well as our staff. She is a great example of "Judge".
Judge Britten is an exceptional leader. She is very proactive when there are legislative or OCA changes. She is quick to come up with a plan and puts in a log of hard work creating our forms and letters. During COVID, she adjusted our policies and procedures when we implemented virtual hearings. Even though the year was frustrating to all, she led our court with ease. Her standing orders remarkable.
The best thing I appreciate about her is that she includes court management when implementing new ideas or changes. She values our input. We have a wonderful partnership that makes our court run like a well-oiled machine.
Jessica Ancira, Director of Municipal Court Services for the City of Seabrook Municipal Court, was selected by the Texas Municipal Courts Association to receive the Association’s Clerk of the Year Award. Here are a few of the reasons why as submitted by her peers.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Seabrook Municipal Court took extraordinary precautions in an effort to slow the spread of the virus and keep staff, attorneys, defendants and citizens safe. Under Jessica's leadership when many cities were forced to stop their processes, Seabrook continued its excellent service to the community. Jessica was instrumental in not only moving the Municipal Court forward with innovative technology in the office and courtroom, but expanding customer outreach and initiating additional ideas for excellent service.
Within a few days, Jessica decided to utilize the court software queues, update the documents, and introduce DocuSign so that all documents could be signed via email or by using the court's software. Most documents are now no longer printed for signature and paper is no longer touched.
Jessica recognized the court staff's workspace was too close together to be able to work together safely. With excellent service as the main priority, she decided to implement a virtual telework program. Every clerk was provided a cell phone, and the court's main number were transferred to them. Computers previously utilized for training within the City were utilized as work from home computers. Printers were purchased with ability to scan, and with the new processes of handling documents, all services were done safely at home.
Live chat is another example of an idea that Jessica introduced. Defendants had the ability to talk to court clerks without leaving a voicemail, calling the office or waiting for a return email.
Because of Jessica's diligence, by early May, 2020, Seabrook was hosting their very first virtual hearing where the judge, the clerks and defendants were all able to join remotely. In June, 2020, Seabrook's court had their first successful "remote" bench trial. We are now past our initial 90 day trial period and with the assistance of the CARES ACT for small cities, Jessica made sure that Seabrook will continue to host virtual court indefinitely.
Jessica was recognized by by the City of Seabrook for exceptional value to the City by promoting her to becoming its first, Director of Municipal Court Services.
Judge Bonnie Townsend (Luling)
Judge Michael Acuña (Dallas)
Judge Pamela Liston (Rowlett)
The Honorable Michael Acuña of Dallas was presented with President's Award by Judge Pamela Liston, TMCA President. Judge Acuña was recognized for his tireless and endless efforts of reaching out to the membership to draft the 2021 Legislative Agenda as well as devoting countless hours to tracking bills related to the agenda, testifying when called upon, all while keeping the Board of Directors informed and ready for action.