Constable 101

An introduction to the county constable's office

Barring the occasional controversy, Travis County constables typically maintain a low profile -- until election season, every four years. That's not to say they're not earning their $61,000 salary in the meantime. Who do you think is out there serving eviction notices or rounding up truants? Not the sheriff, certainly.

Locally, we've had constables in our midst since before Custer's Last Stand. According to the county's Planning and Budget Office, two constables were first appointed in January of 1823, back when we still called ourselves "Austin's Colony." These positions continued under the Texas Constitution. As the law now stands, counties of more than 50,000 people may be divided into four to eight precincts, with each precinct electing a constable.

In Travis County, a constable represents each of the five precincts. Each of the constables essentially carries out the same responsibilities of serving civil papers and Class C misdemeanor warrants issued by their respective justice of the peace courts, as well as the county courts and the district, probate, and juvenile courts. Because the Pct. 5 constable office is located in the county courthouse, that office has handled the bulk of the process work.

Under a new system designed to redistribute the workload and approved by Commissioners Court Jan. 15, that practice will soon change. Each constable will be responsible for serving those civil papers destined for their precinct. Some have called this a needless paper exercise, while others say it's a more efficient and equitable way of running the constable offices. What remains unchanged is that Pct. 5, because of its specialized staff, will continue to process the designated "hot" papers -- pertaining to domestic violence and child protective service cases -- throughout the county.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More by Amy Smith
Well-Behaved? Let's Assume Not.
Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis: The Untold Story
Barbara Leaming's new biography makes the case that Jackie O suffered from PTSD

Nov. 28, 2014

Section 8 Reopens
Section 8 Reopens
Hurry up ... and wait!

Oct. 3, 2014

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Travis County, Planning and Budget Office, constable, Commissioners Court, Precinct 5, process serving

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle