Since 1986, Edie Connelly has served The Woodlands as the Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace, an elected position nearly as old and legendary as Texas itself. In her role as Justice of the Peace, Connelly shoulders a variety of roles, including meting out justice for Class C misdemeanors, handling truancy cases for youth, determining causes of death and marrying Montgomery County couples.
After majoring in social work in college, Connelly began her career working for the Jacksonville, N.C. Police Department as an undercover vice and narcotics officer. In 1977, Connelly and her husband, Andrew, were among the first families to move to The Woodlands when she took a job with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office.
Having never been to Texas, Connelly was a bit skeptical about moving to a new state.
“It wasn’t until I started seeing trees on the drive here that I started feeling comfortable,” shes said. “Honestly, it just seemed like home.”
While with the Sheriff’s Office, Connelly worked in investigations and served as the staff’s only woman, thereby being the only one able to work with female victims of sexual abuse.
“I was just becoming a little bit overwhelmed with the number and the persistence of working sex crimes,” Connelly said.
Then in 1986, the position for the Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace became open, and Connelly decided to run.
“I decided this was something I could do,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to make a difference, kind of save the world. I couldn’t save the world in social work or law enforcement.”
For the past 26 years, Connelly worked to bring financial integrity to the office, a problem that she said was rampant with the previous administration. She also has brought a reputation of being fair to those who come through her court.
“I wanted to make sure we had absolute financial integrity,” she said. “I wanted to make sure decisions I made were made fairly. I really wanted the image of this office to be one of integrity and professionalism.”
Of all her roles as Justice of the Peace, Connelly said often the most difficult for her are the truancy cases.
“So many kids who are not going to school have so many other problems,” she said. “I spend a lot of time with juvenile offenders. Although those kinds of cases are the most concerning to me, those are the most rewarding.”
When she is not guiding misguided youth, or marrying couples in her courtroom, Connelly works with her husband at the couple’s Judo studio on I-45. A black belt in Judo, Connelly has two daughters, one son, and “lots and lots of grandchildren,” she said.
Connelly said her job as Justice of the Peace has given her the opportunity to fulfill her goal of affecting lives in a positive way.
“People don’t realize the impact they can have on someone else’s life,” she said. “What may be a casual encounter to you may make an absolute difference in someone else’s life.”