I have mentioned in some of my earlier posts that Justices of the Peace are rarely attorneys. In fact, some will run for Justice of the Peace because they feel as though they were mistreated or poorly represented by an attorney. Others are active or former real estate professionals (non-attorneys) and they can get a bit touchy about an attorney “explaining eviction law to them.” Every Justice of the Peace has his own, unique reason for becoming a judge. And many Justices of the Peace have his own ideas about eviction law. It is important that you work with an eviction lawyer for landlords who knows these details about your Justice of the Peace. This information can be the difference between walking away with a judgment or a dismissal.
Let me bust your bubble about something: not all Justices of the Peace apply eviction laws the same. I know one Justice of the Peace who does not like 24 Hour Notices to Vacate. As long as these types of notices are permitted in the lease agreement, they are perfectly legal. But if you show up in Judge’s court with a 24 Hour Notice to Vacate, this Judge will dismiss your case. It doesn’t matter if the tenant showed up or not! Another Justice of the Peace will dismiss every case where an attorney appears and the other party is not represented by a lawyer. I avoid this Judge like the plague! Another Judge will only allow me to schedule a trial. Although the Texas Legislature has provided two alternative means of ending eviction cases in the landlord’s favor, this Judge will not honor either of those alternative methods. Another Judge I recently appeared before made me reschedule the post-foreclosure eviction trial because the Judge wanted me to present a copy of the Deed of Trust that was foreclosed upon as evidence at trial. There is no legal requirement for this, but that is what this Judge requires in post-foreclosure evictions.
A good eviction lawyer for landlords can bring a profound value to his clients when he knows what the different Judges like and dislike in eviction cases. Such an attorney will know which Judges are landlord-friendly, which are simply a little eccentric, and which need to be avoided at all costs.
More importantly, you want an eviction attorney who will be a familiar face to your Judge or Justice of the Peace. This is particularly true for Justices of the Peace. Justice of the Peace Courts are not courts of record. This means there are no court reporters recording the hearings and trials. If an attorney goes to court and lies to a Justice of the Peace, there will really be no meaningful record of this happening. Given this situation, think about how much trust a Justice of the Peace has for an attorney who is making a one-time appearance, never to be seen again? For the Justices of the Peace who ran for office because they do not generally like attorneys, think about how much better off you will be when your Justice of the Peace knows and trusts your attorney because your eviction lawyer for landlords routinely practices in front of your Justice of the Peace.