Bill Text: TX HJR148 | 2019-2020 | 86th Legislature | Introduced


Bill Title: Proposing a constitutional amendment providing for appointments to fill vacancies for certain judicial offices and for nonpartisan retention elections for those offices.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Republican 1-0)

Status: (Introduced) 2019-04-15 - Left pending in committee [HJR148 Detail]

Download: Texas-2019-HJR148-Introduced.html
 
 
  By: Landgraf H.J.R. No. 148
 
 
 
A JOINT RESOLUTION
  proposing a constitutional amendment providing for appointments to
  fill vacancies for certain judicial offices and for nonpartisan
  retention elections for those offices.
         BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
         SECTION 1.  Section 2, Article V, Texas Constitution, is
  amended by amending Subsections (b) and (c) and adding Subsection
  (d) to read as follows:
         (b)  No person shall be eligible to serve in the office of
  Chief Justice or Justice of the Supreme Court unless the person is
  licensed to practice law in this state and is, at the time of the
  appointment [election], a citizen of the United States and of this
  state, and has attained the age of thirty-five years, and has been a
  practicing lawyer, or a lawyer and judge of a court of record
  together at least ten years.
         (c)  The Chief Justice and [Said] Justices shall be appointed
  in accordance with Section 28(b) of this article.  The Chief Justice
  and Justices shall be subject to retention or rejection on a
  nonpartisan ballot [elected (three of them each two years)] by the
  qualified voters of the state as provided by the Legislature and [at
  a general election;] shall hold their offices for a term provided by
  Section 28a of this article. [their offices six years; and]
         (d)  The Chief Justice and Justices shall each receive the
  [such] compensation [as shall be] provided by law.
         SECTION 2.  Section 4(a), Article V, Texas Constitution, is
  amended to read as follows:
         (a)  The Court of Criminal Appeals shall consist of eight
  Judges and one Presiding Judge. The Judges shall have the same
  qualifications and receive the same compensation [salaries] as the
  [Associate] Justices of the Supreme Court, and the Presiding Judge
  shall have the same qualifications and receive the same
  compensation [salary] as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.  
  The Presiding Judge and the Judges shall be appointed in accordance
  with Section 28(b) of this article.  The Presiding Judge and the
  Judges shall be subject to retention or rejection on a nonpartisan
  ballot [elected] by the qualified voters of the state as provided by
  the Legislature [at a general election] and shall hold their
  offices for a term provided by Section 28a of this article [of six
  years].
         SECTION 3.  Sections 6(a) and (b), Article V, Texas
  Constitution, are amended to read as follows:
         (a)  The state shall be divided into courts of appeals
  districts, with each district having a Chief Justice, two or more
  other Justices, and such other officials as may be provided by law.  
  The Chief Justice and Justices shall have the qualifications
  prescribed for Justices of the Supreme Court and shall reside in the
  district the Chief Justice or Justice serves during the term of
  office.  The Court of Appeals may sit in panels [sections] as
  authorized by law.  The concurrence of a majority of the justices
  [judges] sitting in a panel [section] is necessary to decide a case.  
  The [Said] Court of Appeals shall have appellate jurisdiction
  co-extensive with the limits of their respective districts, which
  shall extend to all cases of which the District Courts or County
  Courts have original or appellate jurisdiction, under such
  restrictions and regulations as may be prescribed by law.  
  Provided, that the decision of the [said] courts shall be
  conclusive on all questions of fact brought before them on appeal or
  error.  The [Said] courts shall have such other jurisdiction,
  original and appellate, as may be prescribed by law.
         (b)  Each Court [of said Courts] of Appeals shall hold its
  sessions at a place in its district to be designated by the
  Legislature, and at such time as may be prescribed by law.  The
  Chief Justice and [Said] Justices shall be appointed in accordance
  with Section 28(b) of this article.  The Chief Justice and Justices
  shall be subject to retention or rejection on a nonpartisan ballot
  [elected] by the qualified voters of their respective districts as
  provided by the Legislature, [at a general election,] shall hold
  their offices for a term provided by Section 28a of this article,
  [of six years] and shall receive for their services the
  compensation [sum] provided by law.
         SECTION 4.  Section 7, Article V, Texas Constitution, is
  amended to read as follows:
         Sec. 7.  (a)  The State shall be divided into judicial
  districts, with each district having one or more Judges as may be
  provided by law or by this Constitution.
         (b)  Except as provided by Subsection (c) of this section,
  each [Each] district judge shall be elected by the qualified voters
  at a General Election [and shall be a citizen of the United States
  and of this State, who is licensed to practice law in this State and
  has been a practicing lawyer or a Judge of a Court in this State, or
  both combined, for four (4) years next preceding his election, who
  has resided in the district in which he was elected for two (2)
  years next preceding his election,] and [who] shall [reside in his
  district during his term of office and] hold [his] office for the
  term [period] of four [(4)] years.  A vacancy in the office shall be
  filled under Section 28(a) of this article.
         (c)  The initial appointment of a district judge shall be
  made under Section 28(b) of this article in a district that includes
  a county with a population above the threshold provided by the
  Legislature or a county where the voters have voted to have judicial
  offices filled under Section 28(b) of this article.  After
  appointment, the district judge shall be subject to retention or
  rejection on a nonpartisan ballot by the qualified voters of the
  district as provided by the Legislature and shall hold their office
  for the term provided by Section 28a of this article.  A vacancy in
  the office shall be filled under Section 28(a) of this article.
         (d)  To be eligible for appointment or election to the office
  of district judge, a person shall be a citizen of the United States
  and a resident of this state who is licensed to practice law in this
  state, has been a practicing lawyer or a judge of a court of record,
  or both combined, for seven years preceding the judge's appointment
  or election, has attained the age of thirty-two, has resided in the
  district the judge will be appointed or elected to serve for at
  least two years preceding the date of the appointment or election,
  and continues to reside in the district during the judge's term of
  office.
         (e)  A district judge [, and who] shall receive for the
  judge's [his] services [an] compensation as provided [annual salary
  to be fixed] by the Legislature.
         (f)  A District [The] Court shall conduct its proceedings at
  the county seat of the county in which the case is pending, except
  as otherwise provided by law.  The District Court [He] shall hold
  the regular terms [of his Court] at the County Seat of each County
  in the District Court's [his] district in such manner as may be
  prescribed by law.  The Legislature shall have power by General or
  Special Laws to make such provisions concerning the terms or
  sessions of each District Court as it may deem necessary.
         (g)  The Legislature shall also provide for the holding of
  District Court when the Judge thereof is absent, or is from any
  cause disabled or disqualified from presiding.
         SECTION 5.  Section 28, Article V, Texas Constitution, is
  amended to read as follows:
         Sec. 28.  (a)  Except as provided by Subsection (b), a [A]
  vacancy in the office of [Chief Justice, Justice, or Judge of the
  Supreme Court, the Court of Criminal Appeals, the Court of Appeals,
  or] the District Court [Courts] shall be filled by an appointment by
  the Governor until the next succeeding General Election for state
  officers, and at that election the voters shall fill the vacancy for
  the unexpired term.
         (b)  
  A vacancy on the Supreme Court, the Court of Criminal
  Appeals, a Court of Appeals, a District Court in a district that
  includes a county with a population above the threshold provided by
  the Legislature, or a District Court in a district where the voters
  have voted to have district court vacancies filled by an
  appointment made under this subsection shall be filled by an
  appointment by the Governor with the advice and consent of the
  Senate and shall be subject to Section 28a of this article.  Once a
  vacancy is filled by an appointment as provided by this subsection,
  a future vacancy shall be filled as provided by this subsection.
         (c)  A vacancy in the office of County Judge or Justice of the
  Peace shall be filled by the Commissioners Court until the next
  succeeding General Election.
         SECTION 6.  Article V, Texas Constitution, is amended by
  adding Sections 28a and 28b to read as follows:
         Sec. 28a.  (a)  A person appointed to fill a vacancy in a
  judicial office under Section 28(b) of this article may serve for an
  initial term that ends on January 1 of the first odd-numbered year
  occurring after the person takes office.  The person may then serve
  without interruption for a term of 12 years following the initial
  term, subject to retention or rejection on a nonpartisan ballot by
  the qualified voters as provided by the Legislature.  A position
  becomes vacant on December 31 of a person's 12th year in office.  A
  person who completes a 12-year term may be reappointed to the
  office.
         (b)  Unless a person dies, is declared ineligible, resigns,
  or withdraws from an election, the name of a person appointed to a
  judicial vacancy under Section 28(b) of this article shall appear
  on a nonpartisan ballot on the second and fourth general elections
  held in November of even-numbered years after the conclusion of the
  person's initial term in the office, at which the qualified voters
  of the state or district in which the person serves shall vote in a
  manner provided by the Legislature whether to retain the person in
  office.  If the voters do not vote to retain a person in a judicial
  office, the office becomes vacant on December 31 of the year the
  election is held.  A person who is not retained by the voters is not
  eligible for the next appointment to that office.
         Sec. 28b.  (a)  The Legislature shall provide for the
  membership, terms, and jurisdiction of one or more judicial
  appointments advisory boards to advise the Senate about a person's
  qualification to hold an office to which the person may be appointed
  under Section 28(b) of this article.
         (b)  Notwithstanding Section 1, Article II, of this
  constitution, the members of a judicial appointments advisory board
  may be appointed by an official serving in any branch of the
  government as provided by law.
         (c)  Before serving on the judicial appointments advisory
  board, a person shall take the following oath, "I swear or affirm
  that I will perform my duties on this board without prejudice and
  without regard to partisan affiliation, and my conclusions about
  the qualifications for a candidate for a position as a judge or
  justice will be based on the person's academic credentials,
  substantive legal experience, and reputation for competence,
  fairness, and integrity."
         SECTION 7.  Section 30, Article V, Texas Constitution, is
  amended to read as follows:
         Sec. 30.  Unless otherwise provided by this constitution,
  the [The] Judges of all Courts of county-wide jurisdiction
  heretofore or hereafter created by the Legislature of this State,
  and all Criminal District Attorneys now or hereafter authorized by
  the laws of this State, shall be elected for a term of four years,
  and shall serve until their successors have qualified.
         SECTION 8.  The following temporary provision is added to
  the Texas Constitution:
         TEMPORARY PROVISION. (a)  This temporary provision applies
  to the constitutional amendment proposed by the 86th Legislature,
  Regular Session, 2019, providing for appointment to fill vacancies
  for certain judicial offices and for nonpartisan retention
  elections for those offices.
         (b)  This constitutional amendment takes effect January 1,
  2020.
         (c)  This temporary provision expires January 2, 2020.
         SECTION 9.  This proposed constitutional amendment shall be
  submitted to the voters at an election to be held November 5, 2019.  
  The ballot shall be printed to provide for voting for or against the
  proposition: "The constitutional amendment providing for
  appointments to fill vacancies in the offices of the supreme court,
  court of criminal appeals, courts of appeals, and certain district
  courts, for nonpartisan retention elections every four years for
  those offices, and for the creation of a judicial appointments
  advisory board."
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