Sitting back from behind his desk, Presiding Boerne Municipal Court Judge Ed Phillips reflects on his quarter century of service to the city.
“I have been blessed by so many people,” he said, quick to give praise to the many people who have helped him accomplish this goal.
Since becoming judge on Jan. 14, 1995, he has seen the caseload increase, with the court most recently processing 3,700 misdemeanor charges in the past year.
He thought by now the city would have needed a full-time court judge, but he says, “People in Boerne and Kendall County are good hardworking folks.”
He also credits court staff which includes Municipal Court Supervisor Claudia Lemon, Deputy Court Clerks Jennifer Castillo and Barbara Rodriguez, and Prosecutor Dana Jacobson for helping run a smooth and efficient operation.
By leaving the tie in the closet and speaking to people in an approachable manner he says that’s just part of his philosophy while on the bench.
Phillips said he works especially hard to reach younger defendants in the court for the first time and hopes it becomes a valuable life lesson.
“Especially when I am talking to young people, I say look ‘This is not the end of the world, whether it’s an MIP (minor in possession), drug paraphernalia, speeding case, whatever the case might be. This is a hiccup just don’t let it become a vomit.’”
With a simple goal of not seeing someone enter his court again, it can be years later before he knows if he made an impact.
“Parents reach back out three or four years later, and they say, ‘What you said to my son or daughter, what you told them, really straightened them out. They have been on the straight and narrow ever since,’” he said. “That is the most rewarding thing I have gotten from the job.”
And in 25 years, he has seen his job move him to multiple locations across Boerne. Before opening in its new location at 124 Old San Antonio Road, Phillips conducted court in the Dienger Building and out of multiple rooms in the current City Hall and Utilities Building.
The judge stays up to date on the current laws and is constantly participating in continuing legal education and expects the same standard from court staff.
He is also appreciative of Boerne police and the role officers play in the legal process.
Phillips also credits his success to City Council members, previous mayors Patrick Health, Dan Heckler, Michael Shultz as well as current city leadership including Mayor Tim Handren, City Manager Ron Bowman and Asst. City Manager Linda Zartler for allowing him to serve the City and the court.
His biggest source of pride though falls to a person outside the court: his wife, Linda, who he says continues to encourage him in his service.
The judge also maintains a private legal practice in Boerne and has since expanded his services to the municipal courts in the towns of Live Oak and Cibolo.