District Judge Glenn Braun is looking forward to Monday.
Most notably, it will mean his return to the newly remodeled Ellis County Courthouse and his move away from the cramped make-do quarters where his desk, a printer and two straight-backed chairs overwhelm the office he has occupied for the last 13 months.
It also will mean his first day as chief judge of the 23rd Judicial District, the four-county district anchored by Ellis County. Trego, Rooks and Gove counties complete the district.
He’s looking forward to the new mantle with a certain amount of trepidation, but comforted in knowing that the voice of experience — in the form of fellow District Judge Ed Bouker — won’t be far away for the next year.
Braun’s appointment to a two-year term as chief judge coincides with Bouker’s earlier announcement he won’t be seeking re-election.
As a result, he will be stepping down in January 2017.
“It was actually his recommendation for chief judge to come over to me,” Braun said of Bouker.
Chief Justice Lawton Nuss last week made the appointment, which will take effect Monday.
Chief judge responsibilities are mostly administrative, and fall to matters of budgeting and personnel. The chief judge also takes part in a series of chief judge meetings in Topeka.
The title of chief judge doesn’t confer additional powers, however, a mistake that’s often made by the public and lawyers.
“The chief judge is not the boss of the other judges,” Braun said. “I’m a duly elected judge.”
With Bouker’s experience, essentially serving as chief judge since his election, Braun is looking forward to the task.
“I’m looking forward to the challenge,” he said. “I think it will be interesting.”
He also thinks his administrative experience in private law practice and as a former Ellis County attorney will help him along the way.
Moving back into the newly remodeled courthouse will help, he said, offering greatly improved work surroundings.
Braun also credited district court staff for working under difficult conditions and pitching in to help with the move out of the courthouse and then back again.
Already court personnel have been shepherding the move back into court offices.
Braun said court personnel don’t like working in the makeshift system, but he’s not heard any complaints.
“And I don’t hear them say, ‘It’s not my job,’ ” when it comes time to don jeans and pack and move boxes and furniture.
They’ll be doing that again Friday, when Braun said he will join them in making the move to return to the courthouse on Monday. They’ve been joined by personnel from other counties in the district who have volunteered to help with the move.
As well, Ellis County has long been understaffed, based on caseload.
“We’re the second most understaffed office in the state,” Braun said of a study conducted earlier.
He’s not holding out hope for additional manpower, however, considering the judicial budget is approximately 20 percent short of what’s needed to fully function.
Completing his first four-year term in office, Braun said he will seek re-election in November.
“I am running,” he said. “I haven’t filed yet, but I definitely am running.”