Judge Laryssa Korduba serves as justice of the peace for Harris County Justice Court Precinct 4, Place 2. After being elected to the position in November 2014, Korduba became Precinct 4’s first female justice of the peace. Since taking the bench, Korduba has made countless strides to improve customer service, increase and pilot new technology programs, and guarantee efficiency in her courtroom.
Based on her years of experience serving Precinct 4 residents, we asked Korduba to answer some of your most frequently asked questions about the justice court system.
How would you summarize the duties of a justice of the peace?
A justice of the peace presides over a particular precinct — in my case, Precinct 4, which currently has over 1 million citizens. The boundaries of our justice of the peace precinct are approximately north of Beltway 8 and south of the Montgomery County line and from 290 in the west to past 59 in the east. We serve Tomball, Spring, Jersey Village, Houston, Humble, Kingwood, and Atascocita.
My courthouse is next to Bush Intercontinental Airport, in Humble, where we are honored to serve a diverse population with people that come from all walks of life. In my court, we see criminal misdemeanor class C type cases, including traffic and minor offenses filed by peace officers. We also handle civil cases like small claims, debt claims, and evictions. By far, the most important cases we see involve our children. We see everything from truancy cases to traffic tickets.
What should residents know about justice of the peace courts?
A justice of the peace is your local judge. We pride ourselves on providing swift and efficient access to justice. A justice of the peace will hear the testimony of all parties and witnesses to render a swift, fair, and just decision based on the cases presented. In the justice of the peace courts, we do not follow the Rules of Civil Procedure unless requested, making it much easier for a person to represent themselves.
I often tell litigants that I’m just like an umpire. I call the balls and strikes based on the box set out by the law, the way it is written today, not the way we wish the law to be. As your umpire, I cannot coach your team or help you run your case. Only you, the litigant, can do that. I just make sure everyone stays within the rules the law sets out.
What is something about your job that may surprise people?
A justice of the peace is not appointed. I am elected by the voters in their precinct just like many other politicians. Sometimes politicians forget how fortunate they are to serve the public, but I try to remember this daily. I am humbled to serve with honor all those who live in Precinct 4.
I pride myself on taking care of the public with fairness, no matter who they are or where they come from. I also take pride in having an outstanding, diverse staff [and creating a culture] where your work performance and attitude are what matters. We work hard, but we also take time to enjoy the friendships and bonds we build along the way, always trying to remember why we choose to serve in our roles.
In my office, teamwork is not only essential but mastered. Input is always welcomed, and we are not afraid to try new and different ways of running court, procedures, and sharing the workload. This philosophy has led the way into turning JP Court Precinct 4, Place 2, into the most efficient and technologically advanced court.
Although we work hard, we do still cultivate an atmosphere of growth and enjoyment. In my office, we love to decorate, have contests, celebrate birthdays, have potlucks, and promote team building and unity.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The best part of my job is seeing that I can make a difference in someone’s life for the better, especially in the children I see. When I help a student stay in school and graduate, I get to witness a small change that will affect them for the rest of their lives. Helping them get a high school diploma not only helps that child, but often it influences the younger brothers and sisters that are in that family as well. I have been honored to attend graduations of many of the students I have helped, and each of them will always hold a special place in my heart — for they gave me the gift of making a difference.
What are the most challenging parts of your job?
Many times, the decisions I have to make result in people leaving unhappy or upset. I don’t make those decisions lightly, and it is never easy to see the pain and hurt in any litigant in front of me. There are many days that I privately, and after the fact, tear up thinking about how my decisions have affected litigants. For example, maybe someone will be homeless in a week. However, even with those difficult days, I still love this job and the sacred oath I took to follow the law with every decision. Thank you to everyone who gave me this opportunity to serve you, and I hope to continue doing so for a very long time.