Presidio County Justice of the Peace Precinct 2 candidate questionnaire

Candidate for Presidio County Justice of the Peace Precinct 2 incumbent Juanita Urias Bishop weighs in ahead of the March 1 primary election. Her opponent Brenda Pando-Covos did not respond to repeated requests for comment. 

Juanita Urias Bishop (D) 

  • Tell us about yourself. What experience will you bring to this role?

I, Juanita Urias Bishop, have been serving for the past 12 1/2 years as Presidio County Justice of the Peace Pct. 2. I have over 300 Hours of judicial education from the State of Texas Justice Court Training Center in San Marcos, Texas. I obtained my bachelor’s degree from Sul Ross State University in December 2007 in studies in criminal justice and political science. 

What I bring to this job is education, experience, professional office management, ethics, confidentiality and a humble personality being able to operate “The People’s Court” as an impartial entity. 

I have public relations and office management experience for more than 35 years: working with the United States Postal Service for three years, custom brokers secretarial for 10 years, Presidio ISD schools as secretary, teacher and security officer from 1997-2010, volunteer sponsor for the high school mariachi, cheerleading squad, teens in prevention and steering committee for the Presidio Youth Club. I served as city councilwoman from 2002-2004 involving projects to improve the community in the city of Presidio, the Presidio activity center, fire station and the wastewater projects. 

  • What would your three primary objectives be going into the role as justice of the peace?

My three objectives would be to continue running the court as a “People Court” processing the citations and justice court cases in a prompt and effective way, to be able to have transparency in all things pertaining to the court and be there for my constituents to help them out in what they need. Most importantly, do my judicial branch duties to be effective, efficient and professional. 

  • What will be your approach to serving the community? Will you offer hearings in both English and Spanish? What other measures will you take to ensure accessibility and transparency?

Serving the community is a high priority for me because I was born in Presidio and raised here so I understand the needs of this community, especially communication barriers with language where the majority of the people speak and write Spanish or Spanglish, like we call it here. In conducting my justice court and not guilty cases, I ask both parties if one doesn’t speak English if it’s okay to conduct the hearing in Spanish or to have an interpreter in case the judge presiding doesn’t speak their language. As stated previously, my office has always been transparent, providing access for open records requests or other court documents needed. My court has always been accessible to conduct business from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., opening during lunch hours in case anyone needs to contact our court to conduct their business promptly. 

  • As justice of the peace, how would you approach the responsibility of setting bail for arrestees?

The district office of Judge Roy Ferguson will send out an updated recommended bail schedule amount that we can use as a guide. We as judges have the discretion in what we want to set bail upon reading the offense(s). Other options are PR bonds or cash bonds. Defendant under arrest is also available at the judge’s discretion depending on each individual offense. Sometimes a warrant issued by another judge will have a set bond or no bond, so when we magistrate we have to go by the judge’s suggestion. On a few occasions, we have out-of-state warrants where they want the defendant transported to their state for them to prosecute — at that point we just read them their rights. For misdemeanor offenses, we need to magistrate within 24 hours and for felony offenses within 48 hours.