County Judge

By: Dick Smith

Type: General Entry

Published: 1952

Updated: August 5, 2020

The county judge, called "chief justice" by early constitutions, was appointed by the Congress of the Republic of Texas for four-year terms until the office was made elective in 1841. The term of office was shortened to two years in the constitutions of 1845 and 1861. Under the Constitution of 1866 the name was changed to county judge, and the term was again four years. The office was abolished by the Constitution of 1869 but was reestablished with an elective two-year term by the Constitution of 1876. A constitutional amendment passed in 1954 increased the term of office to four years. The main duties of the county judge are to serve as presiding officer of the county commissioners' court, judge of the county court, and budgeting officer of the county; he also has numerous duties pertaining to elections. In counties having fewer than 3,000 students the county judge serves as ex officio county school superintendent.

Guide to Texas Laws for County Officials (Austin: Texas Department of Community Affairs, 1988). Dick Smith, The Development of Local Government in Texas (Ph.D. dissertation, Harvard University, 1938).

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Dick Smith, “County Judge,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 25, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

August 5, 2020