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Former Justice of the Peace reflects on careers

by | Feb 2, 2023 | Latest

After serving as a justice of the peace for nearly a decade, a longtime Wylie resident is looking forward to enjoying his retirement.

Jerry Shaffer, the namesake of the football stadium near Burnett Junior High School in Wylie, called it quits on his working life at 82 years old after serving his final day on the bench in December 2022. He is succeeded by Ellen Skinner, who officially took office Jan. 3. Her husband longtime Collin County Sheriff Jim Skinner. 

Judge Ellen Skinner, Justice of the Peace Collin County Precinct 2

Shaffer, a Wylie resident since 1974, started off as a teacher in Wylie ISD from the time he arrived in Wylie until 1987, when he said he retired for the first time in his working career. He then pursued a homebuilding career but stayed active in education by teaching on the side, he said.

In 2014, he took on another challenge, this time answering the call of Collin County to serve as the justice of the peace for Precinct 2, a post he held for eight years.

During his time on the bench, Shaffer said he had an opportunity to do good for what can be an unpleasant process of going to court. When he first took over, he said that he was surprised by how much his work as a judge impacted lives.

“You’re dealing with people in debt claims cases where the case is filed by a debt collection agency,” Shaffer said. “How you resolve that can be a way to help people out.”

The court also handles truancy cases, minor offenses that do not involve jail sentences, evictions and small claims. 

In her new role as a justice of the peace, Skinner said she tries to use her background as a former teacher and school administrator in Killeen and Moody ISDs to inform how she proceeds in truancy cases. Most times, she tries to understand the cases before her and apply one or multiple remedies state law allows.

“One thing I knew before coming into this job is that students who are facing challenges with truancy [have] a wide variety of reasons,” Skinner said. “It’s just getting down to what’s causing them because these are some of the more severe cases.”

For the full story, see the Feb. 1 issue of The Wylie News.

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