Abbott names Austin lawyer Dustin Howell to new court bench

4:23 p.m Friday, Dec. 8, 2017 Local
Dustin Howell

Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday appointed Austin lawyer Dustin Howell to be the judge for a newly created state district court in Travis County.

The 459th District Court was created by the Legislature in May to handle civil matters.

Howell practices civil appellate law as an associate at the McKool Smith law firm and previously represented Texas in appeals as an assistant solicitor general for the Texas attorney general’s office. Howell received his law degree from Texas Tech University in 2008 and is the former board chairman of the Texas Young Lawyers Association.

Howell’s term will expire at the end of 2018, and he would have to run for election next year — presumably as a Republican — to keep the seat. Gubernatorial appointees, however, are traditionally voted out of office after completing their terms in heavily Democratic Travis County.

Texas records show Howell has given $625 in campaign donations to four judicial candidates, all Republicans, since 2011.

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