The Dallas County Court: An Interview with Judge Sasha Moreno

The Dallas County JP Court System has ten JP courts within five precincts. In the courts, a group of people (judges, clerks, bailiffs, constables, etc.) work to keep it running. I had the pleasure of interning with Judge Sasha Moreno and the JP 4-2 Dallas County Court this summer. While interning, I met some wonderful people, helped with various clerical duties, and watched court cases. Throughout the article, I will share what occurs in the Dallas County Court, an interview with Judge Sasha Moreno, and my personal experience. 

To start, each JP Court is independent of the other, taking cases depending on the jurisdiction but communicating with each other if necessary. The JP courts filter through thousands of cases a year, all of which should close in a reasonable time frame. However, due to the size and complexity of cases, they may take many months or years. The money collected through fines and court costs helps to benefit the taxpayers of Dallas County and Texas by building necessary infrastructure and implementing crucial processes/resources. Other duties of the court include:

  • Hearing traffic and other Class C misdemeanor cases punishable by fine only
  • Hearing civil cases with up to $20,000 in controversy
  • Hearing landlord and tenant disputes
  • Hearing truancy cases
  • Performing magistrate duties
  • Conducting inquests
  • Performing wedding ceremonies

The Texas Constitution requires each county within Texas to establish between 1-8 precincts depending on the population and resources of the county. However, a county may have more than eight if resources and funds are available. The JP Courts have jurisdiction specifically for Class C (lowest level) misdemeanor criminal cases and minor civil cases (small/debt claims). The courts work closely with Constables and can issue search/arrest warrants to be executed by the Constables. Additionally, the judges act as coroners in counties with no local medical examiners.

I will now share the questions and responses I received while interviewing Judge Sasha Moreno of the Dallas County JP 4-2 Court. 

What is your background in law?

Judge Moreno: I am a graduate of Pepperdine School of Law where I earned my Juris Doctor and Masters in Dispute Resolution. As an attorney, I have extensive experience advocating for clients in both federal and state courtrooms. I have practiced law in the areas of immigration, foreclosure defense, and corporate transactions. I was elected to serve as Dallas County Justice of the Peace 4-2 in 2018.

What is the general process of someone filing a case in the court?

Judge Moreno: If you are referring to a civil case, I’ll refer you to the Small Claims Self-Representation packet for more details on how to file a case: Small Claims Self-Representation packet.

What words of wisdom would you give aspiring attorneys, judges, or anyone interested in law?

Judge Moreno: Pursuing a legal career requires hard work, dedication, and sacrifice. However, it is worth it when you help your community navigate the justice system and they receive a fair and just outcome. If you ever get discouraged, remember why you decided to pursue law in the first place. That motivation will make you the best attorney and/or judge.  

There were many more procedural questions/responses in the interview, but I have added those to the first paragraph about the Dallas County JP Courts. 

I had the extreme pleasure of interning with the Dallas JP 4-2 County Court during the summer of 2023. I was lucky to spend this time surrounded by many outstanding interns and hard-working clerks. Some may believe that the courts and the justice system solely rip off the citizens of the US, but during my time there, I witnessed firsthand the incredible hard work and passion the clerks and judges put into the court to keep it running. The justice system can function because of their dedication and willingness to see justice prevail. In conclusion, I thank Judge Moreno, Ms. Conerway (head clerk), the other clerks, and my fellow interns for providing such an enjoyable experience. It was truly unforgettable and gave me an in-depth view of the JP court system.