County Adds Two Names for Open Judicial Seat

Four finalists will interview for the vacant County Court of Law No. 4

Travis County Courthouse (Photo by Jana Birchum)

Despite last week’s vote to interview just two of the 13 applicants for the open County Court at Law No. 4 judicial seat, the Travis County Commissioners Court on Tuesday amended its decision and unanimously agreed to include two additional finalists.

Bell County Assistant District Attorney Dana Nelson-George, who previously held a similar position at Travis County working with sexual assault and family violence survivors, and Austin Municipal Court Associate Judge Tanisa Jeffers will proceed to the interview stage – scheduled for today (Thursday, Oct. 3) at 1:15pm – along with the previous finalists, defense attorney Margaret Chen Kercher and Dimple Malhotra, chief prosecutor of the Travis County D.A.'s Family Violence Unit.

Interviews for Chen Kercher and Malhotra were originally scheduled for last Thursday after the court voted 3-2 to continue with just the two women selected by the screening committee, despite calls from advocates to broaden the finalist pool. That plan was halted Thursday after the Court entered executive session before deciding to adjourn the meeting without taking action. The Court’s revised Tuesday agenda, with the screening committee recommending Nelson-George and Jeffers, was released Friday evening.

Last week, advocates for sexual assault survivors expressed concerns regarding the process to fill the County Court at Law seat, vacated by 20-year judge Mike Denton in September, due to the court’s predominate handling of misdemeanor charges related to family violence, including civil protective orders for sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking, and trafficking. County Judge Sarah Eckhardt did not return requests for comment, so it remains unclear why Commissioners changed their decision.

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