Law:Title 3. Organization Of County Government. Subtitle B. Commissioners Court And County Officers from Chapter 87. Removal Of County Officers From Office; Filling Of Vacancies (Texas)

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Subtitle B. Commissioners Court And County Officers

Contents

Chapter 87. Removal Of County Officers From Office; Filling Of Vacancies

Subchapter A. General Provisions

Section  87.001.  No Removal For Prior Action.

An officer may not be removed under this chapter for an act the officer committed before election to office.

Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 149, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.



Subchapter B. Removal By Petition And Trial

Section  87.011.  Definitions.

In this subchapter:

(1)  "District attorney" includes a criminal district attorney.

(2)  "Incompetency" means:

(A)  gross ignorance of official duties;

(B)  gross carelessness in the discharge of those duties; or

(C)  unfitness or inability to promptly and properly discharge official duties because of a serious physical or mental defect that did not exist at the time of the officer's election.

(3)  "Official misconduct" means intentional, unlawful behavior relating to official duties by an officer entrusted with the administration of justice or the execution of the law. The term includes an intentional or corrupt failure, refusal, or neglect of an officer to perform a duty imposed on the officer by law.

Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 149, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.



Section 87.012.  Officers Subject To Removal.

The district judge may, under this subchapter, remove from office:

(1)  a district attorney;

(2)  a county attorney;

(3)  a county judge;

(4)  a county commissioner;

(5)  a county clerk;

(6)  a district clerk;

(7)  a district and county clerk;

(8)  a county treasurer;

(9)  a sheriff;

(10)  a county surveyor;

(11)  a county tax assessor-collector;

(12)  a constable;

(13)   a justice of the peace;  and

(14)   a county officer, not otherwise named by this section, whose office is created under the constitution or other law of this state.

Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 149, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.

Amended by:

Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 37, Sec. 4, eff. May 19, 2009.



Section  87.013.  General Grounds For Removal.

(a) An officer may be removed for:

(1)  incompetency;

(2)  official misconduct; or

(3)  intoxication on or off duty caused by drinking an alcoholic beverage.

(b)  Intoxication is not a ground for removal if it appears at the trial that the intoxication was caused by drinking an alcoholic beverage on the direction and prescription of a licensed physician practicing in this state.

Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 149, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.



Section  87.014.  Grounds: Failure To Give Bond.

A county officer who is required by law to give an official bond may be removed under this subchapter if the officer:

(1)  fails to execute the bond within the time prescribed by law; or

(2)  does not give a new bond, or an additional bond or security, if required by law to do so.

Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 149, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.



Section  87.015.  Petition For Removal.

(a) A proceeding for the removal of an officer is begun by filing a written petition for removal in a district court of the county in which the officer resides. However, a proceeding for the removal of a district attorney is begun by filing a written petition in a district court of:

(1)  the county in which the attorney resides; or

(2)  the county where the alleged cause of removal occurred, if that county is in the attorney's judicial district.

(b)  Any resident of this state who has lived for at least six months in the county in which the petition is to be filed and who is not currently under indictment in the county may file the petition. At least one of the parties who files the petition must swear to it at or before the filing.

(c)  The petition must be addressed to the district judge of the court in which it is filed. The petition must set forth the grounds alleged for the removal of the officer in plain and intelligible language and must cite the time and place of the occurrence of each act alleged as a ground for removal with as much certainty as the nature of the case permits.

Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 149, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.



Section  87.016.  Citation Of Officer.

(a) After a petition for removal is filed, the person filing the petition shall apply to the district judge in writing for an order requiring a citation and a certified copy of the petition to be served on the officer.

(b)  If the application for the order is made during the term of the court, action may not be taken on the petition until the order is granted and entered in the minutes of the court. If the application is made to the judge during the vacation of the court, the judge shall indicate on the petition the action taken and shall have the action entered in the minutes of the court at the next term.

(c)  If the judge refuses to issue the order for citation, the petition shall be dismissed at the cost of the person filing the petition. The person may not take an appeal or writ of error from the judge's decision. If the judge grants the order for citation, the clerk shall issue the citation with a certified copy of the petition. The judge shall require the person filing the petition to post security for costs in the manner provided for other cases.

(d)  The citation shall order the officer to appear and answer the petition on a date, fixed by the judge, after the fifth day after the date the citation is served. The time is computed as it is in other suits.

Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 149, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987. Amended by Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 563, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1991.



Section  87.017.  Suspension Pending Trial; Temporary Appointee.

(a) After the issuance of the order requiring citation of the officer, the district judge may temporarily suspend the officer and may appoint another person to perform the duties of the office.

(b)  The judge may not suspend the officer until the person appointed to serve executes a bond, with at least two good and sufficient sureties, in an amount fixed by the judge and conditioned as required by the judge. The bond shall be used to pay damages and costs to the suspended officer if the grounds for removal are found at trial to be insufficient or untrue. In an action to recover on the bond it is necessary to allege and prove that the temporary appointee actively aided and instigated the filing and prosecution of the removal action. The suspended officer must also serve written notice on the temporary appointee and the appointee's bondsman, within 90 days after the date the bond is executed, stating that the officer intends to hold them liable on the bond and stating the grounds for that liability.

(c)  If the final judgment establishes the officer's right to the office, the county shall pay the officer from the general fund of the county an amount equal to the compensation received by the temporary appointee.

Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 149, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.



Section  87.018.  Trial.

(a) Officers may be removed only following a trial by jury.

(b)  The trial for removal of an officer and the proceedings connected with the trial shall be conducted as much as possible in accordance with the rules and practice of the court in other civil cases, in the name of the State of Texas, and on the relation of the person filing the petition.

(c)  In a removal case, the judge may not submit special issues to the jury. Under a proper charge applicable to the facts of the case, the judge shall instruct the jury to find from the evidence whether the grounds for removal alleged in the petition are true. If the petition alleges more than one ground for removal, the jury shall indicate in the verdict which grounds are sustained by the evidence and which are not sustained.

(d)  The county attorney shall represent the state in a proceeding for the removal of an officer except as otherwise provided by Subsection (e) or (f).

(e)  In a proceeding to remove a county attorney from office, the district attorney shall represent the state. If the county does not have a district attorney, the county attorney from an adjoining county, as selected by the commissioners court of the county in which the proceeding is pending, shall represent the state.

(f)  In a proceeding to remove the county attorney or district attorney from office, the county attorney from an adjoining county, as selected by the commissioners court of the county in which the proceeding is pending, shall represent the state if the attorney who would otherwise represent the state under this section is also the subject of a pending removal proceeding.

Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 149, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987. Amended by Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 563, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1991.



Section  87.019.  Appeal.

(a) Either party to a removal action may appeal the final judgment to the court of appeals in the manner provided for other civil cases. If the officer has not been suspended from office, the officer is not required to post an appeal bond but may be required to post a bond for costs.

(b)  An appeal of a removal action takes precedence over the ordinary business of the court of appeals and shall be decided with all convenient dispatch. If the trial court judgment is not set aside or suspended, the court of appeals shall issue its mandate in the case within five days after the date the court renders its judgment.

Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 149, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.



Subchapter C. Removal By Criminal Conviction

Section  87.031.  Immediate Removal.

(a) The conviction of a county officer by a petit jury for any felony or for a misdemeanor involving official misconduct operates as an immediate removal from office of that officer.

(b)  The court rendering judgment in such a case shall include an order removing the officer in the judgment.

Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 149, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.



Section 87.032.  Appeal; Suspension.

If the officer appeals the judgment, the appeal supersedes the order of removal unless the court that renders the judgment finds that it is in the public interest to suspend the officer pending the appeal.  If the court finds that the public interest requires suspension, the court shall suspend the officer as provided by this chapter.

Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 149, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.

Amended by:

Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 87, Sec. 15.001, eff. September 1, 2009.



Subchapter D. Filling Of Vacancies

Section  87.041.  Vacancies Filled By Appointment Of Commissioners Court.

(a) The commissioners court of a county may fill a vacancy in the office of:

(1)  county judge;

(2)  county clerk;

(3)  district and county clerk;

(4)  sheriff;

(5)  county attorney;

(6)  county treasurer;

(7)  county surveyor;

(8)   county tax assessor-collector;

(9)  justice of the peace;  or

(10)  constable.

(b)  The commissioners court shall fill a vacancy by a majority vote of the members of the court who are present and voting.

(c)  The person appointed by the commissioners court to fill the vacancy shall hold office until the next general election.

Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 149, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.

Amended by:

Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 37, Sec. 5, eff. May 19, 2009.



Section  87.042.  County Commissioner Vacancy.

If a vacancy occurs in the office of county commissioner, the county judge shall appoint a suitable resident of the precinct in which the vacancy exists to fill the vacancy until the next general election.

Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 149, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.



Section  87.043.  Temporary Absence In Office Of County Judge In Certain Counties.

(a) In a county with a population of less than 150,000, a temporary absence occurs in the office of county judge if:

(1)  the county judge is located outside the county for 30 consecutive full days as a direct result of:

(A)  being a reservist or a member of the national guard who was ordered to duty under the authority of federal law;

(B)  enlisting in the armed forces or the national guard as a volunteer; or

(C)  being inducted into the armed forces under federal draft laws; and

(2)  the commissioners court determines in writing that the absence prevents the county judge from satisfactorily discharging the duties of the office.

(b)  If a temporary absence exists in the office of county judge, before the 30th day after the date the absence begins, the absent county judge may appoint a resident of the county to fill the office until the next term of that office or until the temporary absence ends, whichever event occurs first. If the absent county judge does not appoint a resident of the county within the 30-day period, the commissioners court shall appoint a resident of the county to fill the office until the next term of that office or until the temporary absence ends, whichever event occurs first.

Added by Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 447, Sec. 1, eff. June 11, 1991.


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