Law:Title 2. Judicial Branch. Subtitle A. Courts from Chapter 29. Municipal Courts (Texas)

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Subtitle A. Courts

Contents

Chapter 29. Municipal Courts

Subchapter A. General Provisions

Section  29.001.  Definition.

In this chapter, "municipality" means an incorporated city, town, or village.

Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 480, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.



Section  29.002.  Creation.

A municipal court is created in each municipality. A reference in state law to a "corporation court" means a "municipal court."

Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 480, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.



Section  29.003.  Jurisdiction.

(a) A municipal court, including a municipal court of record, shall have exclusive original jurisdiction within the municipality's territorial limits and property owned by the municipality located in the municipality's extraterritorial jurisdiction in all criminal cases that:

(1)  arise under:

(A)  the ordinances of the municipality; or

(B)  a resolution, rule, or order of a joint board operating an airport under Section 22.074, Transportation Code; and

(2)  are punishable by a fine not to exceed:

(A)  $2,000 in all cases arising under municipal ordinances or resolutions, rules, or orders of a joint board that govern fire safety, zoning, or public health and sanitation, including dumping of refuse; or

(B)  $500 in all other cases arising under a municipal ordinance or a resolution, rule, or order of a joint board.

(b)  The municipal court has concurrent jurisdiction with the justice court of a precinct in which the municipality is located in all criminal cases arising under state law that arise within the municipality's territorial limits or property owned by the municipality located in the municipality's extraterritorial jurisdiction and that:

(1)  are punishable only by a fine, as defined in Subsection (c); or

(2)  arise under Chapter 106, Alcoholic Beverage Code, and do not include confinement as an authorized sanction.

(c)  In this section, an offense which is punishable by "fine only" is defined as an offense that is punishable by fine and such sanctions, if any, as authorized by statute not consisting of confinement in jail or imprisonment.

(d)  The fact that a conviction in a municipal court has as a consequence the imposition of a penalty or sanction by an agency or entity other than the court, such as a denial, suspension, or revocation of a privilege, does not affect the original jurisdiction of the municipal court.

(e)  The municipal court has jurisdiction in the forfeiture and final judgment of all bail bonds and personal bonds taken in criminal cases of which the court has jurisdiction.

(f)  This section does not affect the powers given exclusively to a joint board operating an airport under Section 22.074(d), Transportation Code.

(g)  A municipal court, including a municipal court of record, shall have exclusive appellate jurisdiction within the municipality's territorial limits in a case arising under Chapter 707, Transportation Code.

(h)  A municipality with a population of 1.9 million or more and another municipality contiguous to that municipality may enter into an agreement providing concurrent jurisdiction for the municipal courts of either jurisdiction for all criminal cases arising from offenses under state law that are:

(1)  committed on the boundary of those municipalities or within 200 yards of that boundary; and

(2)  punishable by fine only.

Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 480, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1985. Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 148, Sec. 2.32(a), eff. Sept. 1, 1987; Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 641, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987; Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 680, Sec. 3, eff. Sept. 1, 1987; Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 108, Sec. 7, eff. Sept. 1, 1991; Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 449, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1995; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 533, Sec. 3, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1013, Sec. 40, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 611, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1999; Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 660, Sec. 1, eff. June 18, 1999; Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1122, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

Amended by:

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1149, Sec. 3, eff. September 1, 2007.

Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 230, Sec. 3, eff. September 1, 2009.



Section  29.004.  Judge.

(a) The judge and alternate judges of the municipal court in a home-rule city are selected under the municipality's charter provisions relating to the election or appointment of judges. The judge shall be known as the "judge of the municipal court" unless the municipality by charter provides for another title.

(b)  In a general-law city, the mayor is ex officio judge of the municipal court unless the municipality by ordinance authorizes the election of the judge or provides for the appointment and qualifications of the judge. If the municipality authorizes an election, the judge shall be elected in the manner and for the same term as the mayor. If the municipality authorizes the appointment, the mayor ceases to be judge on the enactment of the ordinance. The first elected or appointed judge serves until the expiration of the mayor's term.

(c)  If a general-law municipality changes the method of judicial selection from election to appointment, the first appointee takes office on the expiration of the term of the previously elected judge.

(d)  A reference in the laws of this state to a "recorder" means a "judge of the municipal court."

Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 480, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.



Section  29.005.  Term Of Office.

The judge of a municipal court serves for a term of office of two years unless the municipality provides for a longer term pursuant to Article XI, Section 11, of the Texas Constitution. A municipal court judge who is not reappointed by the 91st day following the expiration of a term of office shall, absent action by the appointing authority, continue to serve for another term of office beginning on the date the previous term of office expired.

Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 480, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1985. Amended by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 764, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1994.



Section  29.006.  Temporary Replacement In General-law Municipalities.

If a municipal judge of a municipality incorporated under the general laws of this state is temporarily unable to act, the governing body may appoint one or more persons meeting the qualifications for the position to sit for the regular municipal judge. The appointee has all powers and duties of the office and is entitled to compensation as set by the governing body.

Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 480, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.



Section  29.007.  Municipal Court Panels Or Divisions; Temporary Judges.

(a) A home-rule city by charter or by ordinance may divide the municipal court into two or more panels or divisions, one of which shall be presided over by a presiding judge. Each additional panel or division shall be presided over by an associate judge, who is a magistrate with the same powers as the presiding judge.

(b)  The panels or divisions may hold concurrent or continuous sessions either day or night.

(c)  Each panel or division may exercise municipal court jurisdiction and has concurrent jurisdiction with the other panels or divisions.

(d)  Except as otherwise provided by the charter, the municipality by ordinance may establish:

(1)  the qualifications for appointment as a judge;

(2)  the ability of a judge to transfer cases, exchange benches, and preside over any of the panels or divisions;

(3)  the office of the municipal court clerk, who shall serve as clerk of all the panels or divisions with the assistance of deputy clerks as needed; and

(4)  a system for the filing of complaints with the municipal court clerk so that the case load is equally distributed among the panels or divisions.

(e)  Except as modified by this section, procedure before a panel or division and appeal from the decision of a panel or division is governed by general law applicable to municipal courts.

(f)  If the municipality has established the office of municipal court clerk, the clerk shall keep minutes of the proceedings of the municipal court and its panels or divisions, administer oaths, issue process, and generally perform the duties for the municipal court that a county clerk performs for a county court.

(g)  The municipality may provide by charter or by ordinance for the appointment of one or more temporary judges to serve if the regular judge, the presiding judge, or an associate judge is temporarily unable to act. A temporary judge must have the same qualifications as the judge he replaces and has the same powers and duties as that judge.

Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 480, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.



Section  29.010.  Clerk.

(a) In a municipality that provides for the election of a municipal judge, the municipal court clerk is elected in the same manner unless by ordinance the city secretary serves as clerk. A city secretary who serves as clerk may be authorized to appoint a deputy clerk.

(b)  The clerk serves a two-year term of office unless the municipality provides for a longer term pursuant to Article XI, Section 11, of the Texas Constitution. If the city secretary serves as clerk, that person serves as clerk during the term as city secretary.

(c)  The clerk shall keep minutes of the proceedings of the court, issue process, and generally perform the duties for the municipal court that a county clerk performs for a county court.

(d)  Subsection (a) does not apply to a home-rule municipality that provides by charter for the appointment of the clerk.

Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 480, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1985. Amended by Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 774, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1991.



Section  29.011.  Vacancy.

The governing body of the municipality shall by appointment fill a vacancy in the office of municipal judge or clerk for the remainder of the unexpired term of office only.

Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 480, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.



Section  29.012.  Sitting For Disqualified Or Recused Judge.

(a) If the judge of a municipal court is disqualified or recused in a pending case, the judge of another municipal court located in an adjacent municipality may sit in the case.

(b)  A municipal court judge may not sit in a case for another municipal court judge under this section if either party objects to the judge. An objection under this subsection must be filed before the first hearing or trial, including pretrial hearings, over which the judge is to preside.

Added by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 912, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1999.



Subchapter B. Municipal Courts In Certain Cities

Section  29.101.  Municipality Of More Than 250,000.

(a) A municipality with a population of more than 250,000 may by ordinance establish two municipal courts. With the confirmation of the governing body of the municipality, the mayor may appoint two or more judges for the courts and may designate the seniority of the judges.

(b)  Either or both of the courts may hold concurrent or continuous sessions either day or night.

(c)  Each court may exercise municipal court jurisdiction and has concurrent jurisdiction with the other municipal courts.

(d)  The municipality by ordinance may establish:

(1)  the qualifications for appointment as a municipal judge;

(2)  the ability of a judge to transfer cases, exchange benches, and preside over any of the municipal courts;

(3)  the office of the municipal court clerk, who shall serve as clerk of all the municipal courts with the assistance of deputy clerks as needed; and

(4)  a system for the filing of complaints with the municipal court clerk so that the case load is equally distributed among the courts.

(e)  Except as modified by this section, procedure before each of the courts and appeal from a decision of either of the courts are governed by general law applicable to municipal courts.

(f)  This section supersedes any municipal charter provision that conflicts with this section.

Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 480, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.



Section  29.102.  Municipality Of 130,001 To 285,000.

(a) An incorporated municipality with a population of 130,001 to 285,000 by ordinance may establish up to four additional municipal courts. The judge of each additional court must meet the same qualifications and be selected in the same manner as provided in the city charter for the judges of the existing municipal courts. If the charter provides for the election of municipal judges, the governing body of the municipality may appoint a person to serve as judge in each newly created court until the next regular city election.

(b)  The courts may hold concurrent or continuous sessions either day or night.

(c)  Each court may exercise municipal court jurisdiction and has concurrent jurisdiction with the other municipal courts.

(d)  Except as otherwise provided by the charter, the governing body by ordinance may establish:

(1)  the qualifications for appointment as a municipal judge;

(2)  the ability of a judge to transfer cases, exchange benches, and preside over any of the municipal courts;

(3)  the office of the municipal court clerk, who shall serve as clerk of all the municipal courts with the assistance of deputy clerks as needed; and

(4)  a system for the filing of complaints with the municipal court clerk so that the case load is equally distributed among the courts.

(e)  Except as modified by this section, procedure before each of the courts and appeal from a decision of any of the courts are governed by general law applicable to municipal courts.

Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 480, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.



Section  29.103.  Municipal Courts In El Paso.

(a) The City of El Paso by ordinance may establish additional municipal courts as needed. The judge of each additional court must meet the same qualifications and be selected in the same manner as provided in the city charter for the judges of the existing municipal courts. If the charter provides for the election of municipal judges, the governing body of the municipality may appoint a person to serve as judge in each newly created court until the next regular city election.

(b)  The courts may hold concurrent or continuous sessions either day or night.

(c)  Each court may exercise municipal court jurisdiction and has concurrent jurisdiction with the other municipal courts.

(d)  Except as otherwise provided by the charter, the governing body may by ordinance establish:

(1)  the qualifications for appointment as a municipal judge;

(2)  the ability of a judge to transfer cases, exchange benches, and preside over any of the municipal courts;

(3)  the office of the municipal court clerk, who shall serve as clerk of all the municipal courts with the assistance of deputy clerks as needed; and

(4)  a system for the filing of complaints with the municipal court clerk so that the case load is equally distributed among the courts.

(e)  Except as modified by this section, procedure before each of the courts and appeal from a decision of any of the courts are governed by general law applicable to municipal courts.

Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 480, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.



Section  29.104.  Municipal Court Proceedings Outside Corporate Limits.

The municipal court of a municipality with a population of 700 or less may conduct its proceedings within the corporate limits of a contiguous incorporated municipality.

Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 480, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.



Section  29.105.  Municipal Court Proceedings In Municipality Participating In Police Department Contract.

A municipality that contracts with one or more municipalities for the operation of a joint police department may conduct its municipal court proceedings within the municipal limits of any municipality that is a party to the contract.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 741, Sec. 1, eff. June 15, 1995.


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