Governor names Burleson to fill appellate judge vacancy

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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has named 18th District Judge John Neill, of Burleson, to fill a vacancy on the 10th Court of Appeals left when Justice Al Scoggins announced he would leave office at the end of January, before the end of his term.

Neill served the 18th District bench for more than 20 years, a news release from the governor’s office said.

He is board certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, is a member of both the State Bar of Texas and the Johnson County Bar Association and a life fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation.

Neill, an ordained Baptist Deacon, also is a founder of CASA of Johnson County.

Neill received a Bachelor of Arts in history from Baylor University and a Juris Doctor degree from St. Mary’s University School of Law.

The term to which Abbott appointed Neill is set to expire on December 31, 2020, so to retain the seat, Neill would have to run for the seat and win.

Scoggins announced in November he’d be stepping down at the end of January, which required Abbott’s appointment.

At the time Scoggins said he’d grown weary of making the three-hour round trip from his Ellis County home to the McLennan County Courthouse and had decided to step down from the bench, which leaves four years remaining on his six-year term.

The 10th Court, referred to as an intermediate appeals court, reviews issues in state district courts that are appealed, whether civil or criminal, and it consists of a chief justice and two associate justices.

Scoggins’ departure left Justice Rex Davis and Chief Justice Tom Gray on the court.

The governor’s appointment will serve the panel through 2020 but would have to run in a special election to keep the seat, then again two years later when the current elected term expires, the governor’s office says.