Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Travis Lucas Gets Judge Position In Leander

Former Carter aide named Leander judge:
After a 30-minute executive session last night, the city council appointed Travis Lucas, a well-known Williamson County lawyer and former chief of staff for Congressman John Carter, to become the town's new municipal court judge.

Lucas will replace Cheryl Cordell one month after city officials asked her to resign when they discovered her property was linked to the death of a newborn baby. Taking City Manager Biff Johnson's recommendation, the city agreed to hire Lucas for $30,000 a year, nearly three times the amount the city paid Cordell.


Johnson justified the cost increase because Lucas is a practicing attorney, while Cordell wasn't. An attorney with Lucas' résumé and diversified background, Johnson said, would take the city's court in the direction it should go and $800 a month, Cordell's fee, wouldn't get an attorney of his caliber.

Prior to Lucas, the city never had a judge who was also a full-time practicing attorney.

"I think he'll be a wonderful asset to Leander," Councilmember Kirsten Lynch said. "His experience will benefit us. His knowledge and history of fairness will result in a very professional court."

Lucas also brings with him powerful political connections from across the state, nation and Republican Party.

Lucas was a key figure in Carter's campaign for House of Representatives seat and became his chief of staff in 2002. For nearly three years, Lucas, 35, served as his second in command, before resigning amicably to start a professional private practice specializing in commercial law.

Before helping his mentor Carter, Lucas was assistant attorney general for current Sen. John Cornyn, former attorney general for Texas. Lucas also served as a prosecuting attorney for Kerr County and defended law enforcement for the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in Louisiana.


Johnson asked Lucas to take the job before officially taking applications. After an initial shock, Lucas said yes, and then applied.

Both city officials and Lucas were unclear about when Lucas was approached to be the judge, but both said it was after Cordell resigned on June 3.

Lucas' new appointment gives him the chance to follow in the footsteps of Carter, who was a tremendously popular state district judge in Williamson County for 20 years.

"I look at being a judge the way he was a judge," Lucas said.

In addition to his experience, Lucas knows Williamson County, and the city of Leander, he said.

"This is very exciting," Lucas said. "I feel like know the folks here already."
One of the questions I have about this is, what good are these Republican party connections or connections to any political party when all your doing is making decisions on parking tickets?
Lucas will oversee misdemeanor cases, trials and traffic incidents for the city for a half to a full day, depending on the number and scope of the cases.
It's not like there's much pork to hand out as a municipal court judge. I believe this is obviously a stepping stone for Mr. Lucas. I'm not sure if he aspires to be a state judge, like his mentor (Rep. Carter), or if he plans on representing Williamson County some day, like if Rep. Gattis ever runs statewide or for the Senate. Only time will tell if he's three times better than the judge he is replacing.


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