TYLER, Texas (KETK) – Gov. Greg Abbott has appointed Judge Taylor Heaton to the new 475th District Court in Smith County.

Heaton’s term will start in the court on Jan. 1 for a term set to expire at the end of 2024. Heaton is currently judge of the County Court at Law No. 2 in Smith County, and has previously served as an assistant district attorney in Tyler for over 12 years.

Gov. Abbott signed the house bill in June 2021 to create the 475th District Court to help reduce backlog of criminal cases, according to former Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran, who said the courthouse’s backlog had nearly doubled after the pandemic.

Smith County District Attorney Jacob Putman testified in favor of the bill for a new district court in front of the House of Representatives before it was signed.

“This new district court is a step in the right direction in addressing the needs of Smith County’s growing population,” Putman said. “It will enable our prosecutors, judges and public servants to move cases more efficiently and effectively. We are grateful to Rep. Matt Schaefer and Sen. Bryan Hughes’ effort to make this court happen.”

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