Montgomery County commissioners unanimously appointed Scharlene Valdez as the judge for its new county court at law No. 6 at a June 14 commissioners court meeting. Her term is effective Aug. 15.
Valdez was uncontested in the March 1 Republican primary and has no opponent in the November general election. She serves as an associate judge of the 418th District Court in Conroe, a post she has held since 2017.
Commissioners also discussed budgetary needs for the new county court at law. According to the county’s Budget Officer Amanda Carter, who delivered the budget presentation, most needs would come from staff.
According to documents Carter provided to Community Impact Newspaper, the planned staff would include a court administrator, court coordinator, court reporter, two court clerks and a staff attorney, in addition to the judge herself. The total cost of implementation would be $120,491.90 from the fiscal year 2021-22 budget, while the expected impact on the FY 2022-23 budget for salaries and benefits would be $652,000, Carter said.
Carter told commissioners the court structure would mimic existing civil and family court structures, such as those used by Judge Amy Tucker at county court at law No. 3.
Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack asked about the need for two county clerks. Darin Bailey, a deputy for County Clerk Mark Turnbull, said that as the county court at law receives an “overwhelming” amount of documents.
Bailey also noted that the court’s timeline would leave county court at law No. 6 with less time to train new employees before Valdez took the bench.
“It’s not going to be a slow progression,” Bailey said. “We’re going to hit the ground running from the day Judge Valdez takes the bench.”
County Judge Mark Keough suggested that the court could hire its people immediately, with the understanding that they would not be on the county payroll until Aug. 15.
Commissioners approved the budget adjustments unanimously.