Longtime Waco ISD board president, attorney appointed as county court judge


McLennan County Commissioners on Friday appointed attorney Pat Atkins, a former Waco Independent School District board president, as judge of County Court-at-Law No. 3.

Atkins will fill a vacancy created last month when Gov. Greg Abbott appointed Judge Ryan Luna to the 414th District Court.

The court chose Atkins from four finalists, narrowed from a pool of nine applicants.

In his law career that reaches back 33 years, Atkins practiced mostly civil and estate law and recently began to advise businesses as well. He is also admitted to the federal bar at the district, appellate and Supreme Court levels.

He served as Waco ISD trustee from 2002 to 2019, including the last nine years as president.

The docket for County Court-at-Law No. 3 mostly handles civil cases, some misdemeanor criminal cases and contested probate matters referred from the county judge.

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“Judge Luna has done an outstanding job of reducing his civil docket from about 1,500 cases to approximately 500,” Atkins said by phone Friday. “Part of my vision for the court is to meet with the local bar, especially civil trial lawyers, and let them know that because of the work Judge Luna has done, attorneys filing cases in County Court-at-Law No. 3 can try their cases to the bench or to a jury within a matter of months, not years.”

Atkins said he pursued law as a career because of the opportunity to assist people in resolving conflicts.

Atkins pledged to treat all litigants and counsel with respect, conduct proceedings in a manner that instills trust and confidence in the court, and operate the court in a manner that continues to reflect positively on McLennan County.

Atkins will start on the bench March 11.

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