Meet Judge Chu
Judge Nick Chu is the newly appointed Judge of the recently-created Probate Court No. 2. He previously served our community as Justice of the Peace for Precinct 5 since 2017. Judge Chu is the son of immigrants and the grandson of the owner of the first Chinese restaurant in Grapevine, TX. He was the first in his family to become an attorney and is the first Asian American Justice of the Peace in Texas history.
Probate Court No. 2 is the designated mental health court in Travis County. Prior to his appointment, Judge Chu presided over mental health probable cause hearings at the Austin State Hospital. Before becoming a judge, Nick was the lead attorney focused on diversion programs related to drug addiction, alcohol dependency, and special needs for juveniles through his work at the County Attorney’s office and District Attorney’s office in Travis County.
During his time as our Justice of the Peace, Judge Chu prioritized criminal justice reform by encouraging more diversion program opportunities for low-level criminal offenses, and implementing a program where people unable to pay for an attorney can receive legal assistance at no cost. He also instituted eviction protections countywide during the pandemic to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
In 2020, Judge Chu was the first judge in Texas to preside over a fully virtual jury trial, and first in the nation to preside over a fully virtual criminal jury trial. Judge Chu’s leadership on virtual trials helped reduce the backlog induced by COVID-19 allowing justice to be served, while keeping all participants safe.
Judge Chu served as the Chair of the Texas Supreme Court’s COVID-19 Response Task Force for Justice Courts and was appointed as a member of the Texas Supreme Court’s Remote Proceedings Task Force. He also served on the Executive Committee of the American Bar Association’s National Conference of Specialized Court Judges–which includes Probate Judges throughout the nation– and is a faculty member of the Texas Justice Court Training Center, an organization tasked with teaching all judges in Texas.
Judge Chu has a long history of activism in the Democratic Party. He organized President Barack Obama’s historic 2007 Presidential Campaign Rally at Auditorium Shores, and as our local Senate District Executive Committeeman, he was one of the youngest Rules Committee Chairs in the history of the Texas Democratic Party. He has also served as the President of the Central Austin Democrats, President of the Capital Area Asian American Democrats, President of the University Democrats, and the Vice President of the West Austin Democrats. A proud member of AFSCME Local 1624, Judge Chu has also been Chair of the Committee on Political Education for the Central Labor Council. With his knowledge of the various rules, procedures, and laws, Judge Chu currently serves as a parliamentarian for the Travis County Democratic Party.
Judge Chu is a proud graduate of Baylor Law School, and the University of Texas, where he received his B.A. in Government. He lives in the Allandale neighborhood, with his wife, Kathryn Whitley Chu, who is an elected Trustee for Austin ISD; their daughter, Vivia; son, Jack; and Peanut, an orange cat that they adopted at Austin Pets Alive. They found a home in our progressive community and have devoted themselves to making Texas a better place.