February 7, 2024 600 PM
394th JUDICIAL DISTRICT — Attorney Monty Kimball will face off at the polls in the Republican primary next month against Assistant District Attorney Bill Parham for the position of 394th District judge, which oversees felonies and civil lawsuits in Presidio, Brewster, Jeff Davis, Hudspeth and Culberson counties — a massive 20,000-acre chunk of Texas.
Current District Judge Roy Ferguson announced in December that he would not seek re-election after serving on the bench for 12 years, hoping instead to lean into his statewide work on technology and family law as well as his life-long project of increasing access to justice. “Overseeing justice in Far West Texas has been the greatest honor of my career,” he tweeted. “Next stop? Wait and see!”
With the only two candidates in the race for 394th District judge running in the Republican primary, the March 5 election will name the new office holder for a four-year term barring a run-off.
Bill Parham, assistant 83rd District DA, has an extensive resume in Far West Texas prosecuting several high-profile local cases: representing the state of Texas in a case alleging sexual assault by Terlingua hotelier Jeff Leach (dismissed), a case that accused Alpine Police Department Officer Hector Holguin of a crime against a child (dismissed) and a case against Keith Allen McWilliams in the murder of Trey Sands in Terlingua (convicted).
Parham received his law degree from South Texas College of Law in 1989.
Though Kimball, an Alpine native, has been officially retired since 2019, he has continued to pick up cases here and there for a combined total of 32 years in private practice.
His journey to the bar followed an unusual — but distinctly West Texas — path: after graduating from Sul Ross, Kimball worked the family ranch until the age of 36, when he went to law school and began working as an attorney in El Paso.
Kimball returned to Alpine after five years and has focused his career almost entirely on Far West Texas since then. He boasts over 100 jury trials in front of two dozen judges and estimates he has mediated over 500 cases. He has argued before the Supreme Court of Texas and has advocated for both sides of criminal and civil cases.
He feels that his extensive resume makes him a good candidate for the job. “I’ve got a lot of experience in that I’ve seen the good and the bad,” he said.
Though he said he doesn’t want to make any sweeping changes to the court, he would like to encourage a shift to hosting more proceedings exclusively in person. “I’ve talked to a lot of the county judges, the sheriffs, the constables, the people of various counties — they feel that they want to have a little more hands-on,” he said.
The “hands-on” approach would track a little differently from the current court. After being pushed into handling virtually all court proceedings over Zoom during the pandemic, Ferguson then felt strongly that giving participants the option to attend proceedings online helped make the court more accessible.
Kimball wants to strike a balance by encouraging parties to participate in person. “I think Zoom is good in the right situation, but I think there are certain instances where in-person hearings are more appropriate,” he explained.
Apart from running his campaign, Kimball volunteers for a wide variety of organizations, including local Little League baseball, the Sul Ross Exes and the Big Bend Ranch rodeo. He feels that “retirement” is a relative term. “I’ve still got a lot of gas left in the tank,” he said.
Parham did not return multiple requests for an interview.