BELTON — In the shadow of the Bell County Courthouse on a sunny Friday morning, Lou Griffin Jr. of Temple announced his bid to run for Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace.
“This is my home, and I want to serve my home,” Griffin said in front of a couple dozen friends, family members and colleagues.
The son of former Belton Assistant City Manager Lou Griffin Sr., Griffin, 57, was raised in Morgan’s Point Resort and currently lives in Temple. A Republican, he has worked in law enforcement in the county for 38 years and is currently a sergeant with the Killeen Police Department.
“I love what I do. I’m ready to retire from the law enforcement part of it, but I want to continue the judicial part. To me, the justice of the peace keeps me close to what I really like,” Griffin said.
Griffin described qualities that he believes a justice of the peace must possess.
“First off, you’d better have integrity. A justice court is an unbiased court. When (people) present everything they have to you, you need to make a sound decision based on what you hear and not what people want you to hear,” he said. “I want to be a fair and impartial court. If you look at the scales of justice, she’s blind. I want to continue with the civil courts, criminal courts and make sure it’s fair for everybody.”
The JP office is currently held by Ted Duffield, who has yet to announce re-election.
Bell County has six justices of the peace: One each in Precincts 1 and 2 and two each in Precincts 3 and 4.
Justices of the peace are responsible for hearing traffic, Class C misdemeanor and other small claims cases. They preside over truancy cases, issue eviction notices and make rulings in deaths.
Griffin said his career in law enforcement has given him an intimate familiarity with the court system. He has taught civil process courses for the Killeen Police Academy and testified in courtrooms.
“Based on my training, I know the court procedures. I know what the rules are. I want to implement all of this with my knowledge to become a sound, quality judge for Precinct 1 community,” Griffin said.
Temple businessman Drayton McLane Jr. was on hand for Griffin’s announcement. He said Griffin represents a new wave of county leadership.
“I’ve known him for a long time and I’ve known his father for a long time. He knows exactly what the job requires,” McLane said. “Change is good. We bring in younger people who have had a great deal of experience, and I don’t know anyone who has had more experience than he’s had.”
As a longtime resident of the county, Griffin said he’s looking forward to the opportunity to serve in a greater role.
“I believe in my town. I believe in my community and I believe in the people here. That’s the reason why I want to serve in this way,” he said. “I want to bring my professionalism, my integrity and above all, the courtesy to the citizens. That’s who I work for.”
If elected, he said he will strive to act with fairness.
“We work for our community,” Griffin said. “We’ll make decisions people won’t like, but we have to make decisions that are the best for the welfare of the community and the judicial system.”