Gov. Rick Perry has appointed former 5th Court of Appeals Justice Mary Murphy to be the new presiding judge of the 1st Administrative Judicial Region. As the administrative head of the 34-county region, she’ll oversee the judicial system, including about 200 judges.
Murphy will replace John Ovard, who has served in the position since 2000. Perry reappointed Ovard in 2005 and 2009 but did not do so this year.
“Gov. Perry appoints individuals who are qualified and willing to serve. Justice Murphy’s experience and expertise on the appellate and district benches and throughout the state’s legal community make her an excellent choice to continue the dedicated service of Judge Ovard, whose term expired this year,” writes Perry spokesman Josh Havens in an email.
Murphy, who was judge of the 14th District Court in Dallas from 2001 to 2008 and then served on the 5th Court, says she’s anticipating the return to the world of trial courts, trial judges and the “daily justice system.”
“I’m excited. It’s a new opportunity, a new challenge, and I’m looking forward to working in this new capacity,” says Murphy.
She says she learned while she was still a justice that the governor’s office was considering her to be the presiding judge. She left the appellate bench on June 7, and her retirement was official on Sept. 1.
Ovard swore her in on Oct. 2, she says, noting they are longtime friends.
“It was an honor for me to have him swear me in,” she says. Her new job begins immediately, and her four-year term will expire in October 2017.
Ovard says he had “substantial notice” he was being replaced, but the governor’s office didn’t discuss the reasons.
“I believe they just believed she — with her outstanding background and qualities — was the person for the job at this time,” says Ovard, who plans to be a mediator and visiting judge. “I have nothing but the highest respect and regard for Mary Murphy, and I’ve known her a long time — she’s a friend — and she’s a wonderful selection.”
He adds, “I have no disagreement or any feelings but gratitude to both Gov. Perry for the opportunity in the past and looking forward to working with Mary and all the other judges in the future.”