Bonnie Goldstein will have to resign as presiding judge of Royse City Municipal Court before she begins serving her term as judge of Dallas County’s 44th Judicial District Court on Jan. 1.
There’s no question about that.
There is a question, however, involving Goldstein’s future involvement with the Royse City Teen Court.
Goldstein serves as presiding judge of the Teen Court she helped create in Royse City almost two years ago. She wants to continue serving in some capacity, but how to proceed is the question.
She’s awaiting an answer from the state’s Judicial Conduct Commission.
“Teen Court is absolutely one of the high points from the years I’ve spent in Royse City,” said Goldstein, who has served as Royse City’s Municipal Court judge since 2006. “The kids have meant so much to me. It would be difficult to leave them.”
Goldstein finds herself in the predicament because she won the Democratic primary election in the race for judge of 44th Judicial District Court. She defeated Carlos Cortez, who has served eight years as presiding judge of the court.
Goldstein, who received 65 percent of the primary vote total, does not have a Republican opponent in the November general election. She will be administered the oath office on Jan. 1.
The Teen Court program, established on April 18, 2012, by a Leadership Rockwall County class, gives young offenders a chance to clear a Class C misdemeanor arrest from their permanent record by performing community service and other duties ordered by the court.
According to information provided during city council and school board meetings, Teen Court clears teens’ permanent record; avoids large fines; interrupts unlawful behavior; provides a positive experience with the judicial system; and fosters positive attitudes toward authority.
Court proceedings are handled by students who are trained to be prosecutors, defense lawyers and jurors. The defendants are facing actual Class C misdemeanors.
Teen Court is not a trial court. The young offenders, 10 to 17 years old, admit their guilt and agree to accept a sentence given to them by a jury of their peers. Judge Goldstein is present to oversee the proceedings of the court.
Goldstein presides during Municipal Court sessions that are held the first three Wednesdays of each month. Teen Court sessions are held the fourth Wednesday.
“It has been very rewarding to work here,” Goldstein said. “The community, staff and city council have been very supportive.
Along with Teen Court, Goldstein said another highlight involves Royse City Municipal Court twice receiving a Traffic Safety Award for making outstanding traffic safety contributions to the community. The award is presented at the Texas Municipal Courts Education Center’s (TMCEC) Municipal Traffic Safety Initiatives Conference.
Applicants are judged on the basis of what their court is doing in terms of public outreach in traffic safety in an effort to reduce automobile crashes, traffic fatalities, driving under the influence, child safety seat offenses, red light violations and other traffic-related offenses.
Goldstein praised the Municipal Court staff that has worked to improve efficiency and customer service.
Paul Liston is associate judge of the court.