The jurisdiction of a District Court is determined by the Texas Constitution and statute. The jurisdiction of a District Court usually includes felony criminal cases, civil cases with higher amounts in controversy, family law matters, and disputes involving title to land.
The 361st District Court was created in 1985. Carolyn L. Ruffino was appointed as its first judge, where she served until December of 1998. Steve Smith, was then elected and has served as judge of the Court since January 1, 1999. Judge Smith has been Board Certified in Civil Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization since 1988. Prior to his service in the 361st District Court, Judge Smith served as Judge of Brazos County Court at Law No. 1 (1995-1998), and as Presiding and Associate Municipal Judge of the City of College Station, Texas (1988-1994). Active in judicial leadership, he has served as Chair of the Judicial Section of the State Bar of Texas (2010-2011) and in several capacities in the Judicial Division of the American Bar Association. He also has served as a faculty member for the National Judicial College and the Texas Center for the Judiciary. Before his service as an elected judge, Smith engaged in private practice in Brazos County from 1977-1994. He graduated from Abilene Christian University (1974) and the University of Texas School of Law (1977). He and his late wife, Becky, are the parents of two grown children – Christopher and Laura.
The present Judge, Judge Hilburn was elected in 2022. Prior to his service in the 361st District Court, Judge Hilburn of College Station was an attorney in private practice and has over 20 years of experience in practicing law. He is a member of the State Bar of Texas and the Texas Aggie Bar Association. Additionally, he is a member and previously served as President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer of the Brazos County Bar Association. He is a board member and former President of the Children’s Museum of Brazos Valley and member of Hillcrest Baptist Church. Hilburn received a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Development from Texas A&M University and a Juris Doctor degree from South Texas College of Law.