Pat Pattillo takes the gavel at 216th District Court

Pat Pattillo took a moment of relaxation in his law office at Pattillo Richards, P.C. at the end of April. He says Judge Keith William's early retirement caught them by surprise. He and his law partner, Greg Richards, had to scramble a bit, but they managed to find new representation for all of Pattillo's clients, so he was ready to take the gavel at the 216th's bench starting May 1.

Pat Pattillo says he planned to take over his new office, along with other newly elected officials, on Jan. 1, 2021, but instead he was sworn in as the 216th District Judge on May 1, 2020.

He says, "Judge Keith Williams decided he was ready to step down the end of April, so he contacted the Governor's office. The procedure, if an elected officer resigns, is for the Governor's Office of Appointments to name a replacement, who serves the remainder of the term."

He says usually the candidate would go to Austin and interview in person, but because of the situation in March and April, he interviewed for a half-hour over the telephone. The Governor's office announced his appointment April 20.

Pattillo says, "In this case, since I will take office anyway, Governor Abbott decided I was the logical choice to fill in for the unexpired term. Then I'll be sworn in again in January, for the four-year term I was elected to fill."

Pattillo says it began two years ago, the day after Williams announced to the Kerrville Bar that he would not seek re-election. "I decided I would like to serve as a district judge. I felt I had the experience necessary for the position, having worked both as a prosecutor and as a defense attorney, and being board certified in Criminal Law. I filed as a candidate in December, 2019. I think it shows the support I received from other Kerrville attorneys that I was unopposed in the primary and will be unopposed in the November general election."

He says the 216th District has "general jurisdiction," hearing both criminal and civil cases. It also has a multi-county jurisdiction, serving both Kerr and Gillespie Counties, and its territory overlaps with the 198th District Court.

On average, the court docket is divided into thirds, he says; one-third criminal, one-third family matters, and one-third "other."

He says the criminal third consists of felony cases brought to the court by the 216th District Attorney Lucy Wilke. Family cases may include divorce, child custody, and any other family disputes. The "other" cases are more diverse, and include everything from car accidents, to breach of contract disputes, to ownership of property, to disputes within or among corporations.

Pattillo says, "Anybody with the filing fee can walk in and file a lawsuit against anyone, about anything. As the judge, I will encourage the parties to seek mediation or arbitration, which is a lot less costly both in money and in relationships. I've found that the longer disputes drag on, the angrier people get, the more they get set in their positions, and the harder the conflicts are to resolve. Only if all else fails, do I want to go to trial."

But court cases aren't all of the position's responsibilities. Pattillo says judges are always on call to review search warrants and set bond for persons in jail. They are responsible for following procedures set by the Texas Office of Court Administration, and they have oversight for probation and juvenile matters. "Judges have to work very closely with the law enforcement agencies."

Pattillo says he was born in Smyrna, Tenn., when his father, LTC Dick Pattillo, was an Air Force officer stationed at Stewart AFB, which was closed in 1971. Pattillo and his mother, Pat, moved with the Air Force to Wisconsin; San Benito, Texas; Austin; and finally San Antonio. Pattillo graduated from MacArthur High School in 1981, then earned a bachelor of arts in economics from University of Texas.

He says, "When I was a junior at UT I rode a bus with other students to the OU game. One of the students worked running errands for the law firm of Clark, Thomas, Winters and Newton. He had a guest with him, and since the student was graduating, I was offered his job. This was a big law firm, and they represented clients like Lady Bird Johnson. It was my first law experience, and I found it interesting, so I took the LSAT, the Law School Admission Test, and passed."

He says after he graduated from UT he attended St. Mary's Law School, where he earned his doctor of jurisprudence in 1988. He also passed the bar exam, and was licensed, and has practiced law since May of 1989.

Pattillo says while he was at St. Mary's Rick Rodman, his best friend from sixth to 12th grade, was studying for an MBA at Baylor. Rodman and his girlfriend set Pattillo up with a blind double-date with Sheri Parker.

"After I passed the bar I was going on a 15-week backpacking trip across Europe, so before that I drove from San Antonio to Denton to visit my grandparents. The plan was to stop along the way in Waco, for the date. But Rick's date had a conflict, and Sheri wouldn't go out just with me, so we ended up a three-some. Instead of dinner and a movie, I told them I had some quail in my freezer, and we could just barbeque them and eat by the lake."

When he left on the trip, he says, the only way he could figure to keep contact with Sheri was to mail her a postcard a week. They started dating after he returned, and were married in Pioneer Drive Baptist Church, in Abilene, in 1990.

Pattillo says his legal name is Albert Dixon Pattillo III. His Air Force father was also Albert Dixon Pattillo III. "There was a family tradition. Instead of naming everyone consecutively, the idea was to pick the number representing the living fathers. When my father was born my grandfather, who was a physician, was still alive, and so was my great-grandfather, who was also a physician. So my father was 'III,' but went by 'Dick.' When I was born, my great-grandfather had died, so I was named 'III' as well, and became 'Pat'."

Pattillo says he and Sheri have two sons. Their eldest inherited the "Albert Dixon," but goes by his middle name. Dixon graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and is an Army Infantry 1st Lieutenant. He is married to Kendall. Parker, the Pattillo's second son, is an electrical engineer in Fort Worth.

Pattillo says his hobbies include flying, as a licensed pilot; and he is a triathlete, having completed four Iron Man events. His favorite scripture is John 10:10, "I have come that you may have life, and that you may have it more abundantly."

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