Panola County attorney Larry Fields has been named as the Republican candidate for the Pct. 1 and 4 Justice of the Peace spot in the Nov. 3 election.

The Panola County Republican Party Executive Committee named Fields to the spot to fill the unexpired term of retired JP David Gray.

“I’d like to help serve the people of Pct. 1 and 4 in Panola County,” Fields said when asked about why he wanted to run for elected office.

Fields has been practicing law in civil and criminal matters since 1988. Fields has experience before all of the local courts, and he served as Constable for Precinct 4 from 1981 to 1984.

Fields’s family is native to the area, and he spend most of his school life and all of his adult life in Panola County. He graduated from Panola College, Stephen F. Austin State University and the South Texas College of Law.

Fields said he was asked by another elected official to consider running, and he said a 2019 state decision to raise the JP court jurisdiction limit meant whichever JP took office would need experience.

That jurisdictional decision means that now someone, with a $25 filing fee, can sue someone for $20,000, Fields said.

“If the judge doesn’t know what they’re doing and they let the wrong evidence in and somebody gets a judgment against them for $20,000 and they want to appeal it, they’ve got to have a bunch of money to be able to appeal it,” Fields said.

Fields takes the role of JP courts seriously.

“It’s important that people are treated a certain way in the justices of peace court because there’s more people come in contact with the justices of the peace court than any other court in the nation,” he said.


Carthage native Meredith Shamburger has worked for the Panola Watchman since 2018. Before that, she worked at sister papers in Longview and Marshall; the Dallas Morning News; and The Daily Voice, a hyperlocal news company in Westchester County, New York.