Special to the Progress

Judge Teresa Phifer announced her campaign for re-election as Precinct 2 justice of the peace.

Phifer is a Cherokee County native and graduated from Jacksonville High School. She attended Lon Morris College and Sam Houston State University, and holds a degree in criminology and corrections.

Prior to her election to justice of the peace, Phifer worked with Smith County Juvenile Services and the Cherokee County Juvenile Probation Department. She has also worked as a legal assistant with a local law practice. She is currently serving her second term as justice of the peace.

“I’ve always enjoyed a good working relationship with both local law enforcement and the legal community,” Phifer said. “The officers and attorneys know from experience that I am readily accessible, fair, well-educated in the law and fully capable of carrying out the duties and responsibilities of my office.”

Phifer was the focus of several newspaper articles and television reports because of her tough, no-nonsense approach to children missing school. Based from her office in Alto, Phifer presides over truancy cases for the cities of Wells, Alto and Rusk independent school districts. Officials from each school district have expressed high praise for her many accomplishments.

“I try to impress on the parent and the child that the student needs to be in school,” she said. “When they don’t go to school, they have no chance to learn or have a secure future.”

Because of her dedication to the children of her community, Phifer has also been honored to serve as a board member on the Cherokee County Child-Family Services Board of Directors.

In addition to her truancy duties, Phifer also presides over traffic court, small claim civil matters, forcible entry and detainer proceedings (evictions), and other civil suits. She is also responsible for reviewing and issuing arrest warrants as well as magistrating prisoners and setting bonds.

“There is no doubt about it — this is a full-time job,” she said. “As judge, I am on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year, but I love it.”

Part of the ongoing duties for a justice of the peace is also to preside over inquiries into deaths occurring in the county (inquests).

“Sometimes I’m called out in the wee morning hours, even on holidays and weekends, but that’s all part of the job,” Phifer said. “It helps that I have more than 200 hours of specialized training in these areas from the Texas Justice Court Training Center. That and the experience I have received over the years have been invaluable.”

Precinct 2 covers the cities of Maydelle, Rusk and Alto, and continues south through Cherokee County to the city of Wells. It also includes both state prisons and the state hospital.

Phifer is married with one child. She is a member of the First United Methodist Church of Rusk, where she has served as Christian education director, Methodist Women’s Fellowship president, and is currently its vacation bible school coordinator. She is a member of Alto Lions Club and the Justice of the Peace and Constables’ Association of Texas.

“I have truly enjoyed serving you as your justice of the peace and wish to continue to do so,” Phifer said. “Your support and your vote will be greatly appreciated.”

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