Former Justices of the peace Patrick and Margaret Meece have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and probably will not be able to pay the more than $223,000 they owe a local homebuilder, the builder’s lawyer said.

The couple owes more than a $1 million to 32 creditors, including banks, credit card companies, lawyers and family members, according to bankruptcy documents.

A jury ordered the Meeces to pay Oakwood Custom Homes after the company sued them for failure to pay for work. J. Davis Watson, who represented OCC Construction Corp. in the case, said the Meeces had not paid his clients anything since the verdict in early May.

Following the 10-day trial, the Meeces filed a motion for a new trial. It was denied.

“They are doing what they can to not pay,” Watson said.

No one answered repeated phone calls to the Meeces’ Bryan office last week, and no one responded to messages.

“Basically, when someone files bankruptcy, it stays any collection efforts against debtors until the judge lifts the stay,” Watson said. “We just see it as another attempt by the Meeces to avoid paying OCC.”

Patrick and Margaret Meece both worked as attorneys for OCC Construction during the 1990s. At different times, they held the same elected justice of the peace position for Precinct 4.

Patrick Meece made a failed bid for the 31st Congressional District seat in 2002. He also made a run for district attorney in 2004 but was defeated by incumbent Bill Turner.

Meece signed a contract with Oakwood to build a home in 2001, according to court documents.

The company received some money from the Meeces but was then told by Patrick Meece that a large portion of the money he owed had been spent on his failed bid for Congress.

The company filed suit in 2003, and Meece countersued the next year, complaining that Oakwood had built a home that leaked and grew mold. The Meeces said they had suffered health problems and sought about $20 million in damages.