The city of Denison recently ended its search for a municipal judge magistrate when it appointed Denison attorney Don Banman to the post. The need for a new judge and magistrate comes following the resignation of long time judge Phillip Shaffer earlier this month.
“I consider Judge Shaffer a mentor and he had many years of service,” Banman said. “I certainly have big shoes to fill.”
During its first meeting of the year, the City Council accepted Shaffer’s resignation following 27 years as the city’s municipal judge with an additional 10 years serving with the city of Bells in total. While accepting Shaffer’s resignation, the council noted that Ashley Sims, who was appointed as magistrate in August, had taken a full-time job and was not seeking to renew her services.
In response to the two vacancies, the council previously elected to combine the two positions and create a new municipal judge magistrate position and start the search for a new judge.
Prior to being appointed as the new presiding judge, Banman served as the associate judge for the city. City Manager Jud Rex said he believes that Banman was first appointed to the position around 2011 and reappointed in early January. Banman has also served as a judge for the city of Pottsboro for the past two years, he said.
Banman said he believes magistration in Denison will primarily relate to individuals who are being held in the city’s jail on Class 3 misdemeanors. A part of these duties will be setting bail, he said.
“It is basically giving them their rights and making sure they understand the charges before them,” he said.
Following the announcement of his resignation, Shaffer said recent legislative changes regarding magistration made it difficult to remain as the presiding judge and pursue plans to travel and see the U.S. Under these changes, Shaffer said magistration services must be given to inmates within 24 hours of their arrest. This would require a magistrate to be available every day of the week.
Rex said the city has taken steps to make the magistration process more flexible for the judge through the use of technology. During her time with the city, Sims helped Denison set up and implement its new virtual magistration system, which will allow the judge to deliver magistration remotely through online video.
“Even if the judge is on vacation, he can use Skype to perform magistration,” Rex said.
Additionally, the city plans to appoint an assistant judge to assist in performing these duties when the presiding judge is not available, Rex said. This will likely come when the city completes its search and appoints a new associate judge, he added.
Banman is expected to start serving as the new judge magistrate starting on Feb. 16 with his term running through Dec. 31, 2020. During the interim, Shaffer is expected to continue serving as the city’s municipal judge.