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2008-01-03

Shuffle in 216th

By Judith Pannebaker

After 20 years on the bench, 216th District Judge Stephen Ables, 59, recently announced plans to step down and not seek another four-year term.

Since he had not yet filed his candidacy, rumors regarding his intentions were rife around the 216th District, which includes Bandera, Gillespie, Kendall and Kerr counties.

Lately, Ables’ rulings have suffered several judicial setbacks, including having an appellate court overturn separate convictions of a capital murder case, as well as another ruling against a Gillespie County police officer. In Bandera County, Ables recently reused himself in a civil suit filed by a citizen against the Cowboy Capital Pet Assistance League.

Rather than retire, however, he will leave public service for employment in the private sector.

In a short article on his decision, published in the Saturday, Dec. 29, edition of the San Antonio Express-News, Ables declined to identify who he will work for after his current term ends next year. However, a source, speaking on the condition of anonymity, suggested the Kerrville resident would join Cailloux Foundation, a philanthropic organization with headquarters in Kerrville.

So far, several area attorneys have filed as candidates for 216th District Judge, most notably Kendall County Attorney Joseph M. Davis. A former partner with Nunley Davis Jolley Cluck Aelvoet LLP, Davis specializes in general civil trial law with an emphasis on probate, real estate and fiduciary and commercial disputes, water rights litigation and personal injury and defense, as well as appellate law.

Prior to founding Nunley Davis, Davis had established a practice in Uvalde, Texas and San Antonio. Since filing for the district judgeship, he has resigned from the Boerne firm to forestall allegations of conflicts of interest.

In an interview, Davis offered,”My work experience and public service qualifies me to preside on the full spectrum of cases the district court is called upon to hear.”

Also filing for district judge are Kerr County attorneys Harold J. Danford and Fred Henneke.

Unsubstantiated buzz also continues to swirl around the race for 216th District Attorney.

Earlier, it was thought DA Bruce Curry would step down, allowing his right-hand Assistant District Attorney Lucy Cavazos Wilke to assume the prosecutorial mantle. Curry quashed those rumors by throwing his hat in the ring on Dec. 3 for another four-year term.

Now, however, the gossip mill suggests Curry will “unfile” as a candidate for DA and instead make an end run for district judge, leaving the prosecution position again open for Wilke. Reported to be on vacation out of the country, Curry could not be reached for comment.

Candidates for both district and county elected offices must have filed paperwork by Wednesday, Jan. 2, so all the speculations should be put to rest in the Thursday, Jan. 10, issue of the Courier.

After that, let the political games begin.