By Ellis S.J.R. No. 23
A JOINT RESOLUTION
1-1 proposing a constitutional amendment providing for the appointment
1-2 of appellate justices and judges by the governor with retention
1-3 elections on a nonpartisan ballot for those justices and judges,
1-4 for the nonpartisan election and retention or rejection of district
1-5 judges, for the election of certain district judges from
1-6 commissioners court precincts, and for the alteration of the terms
1-7 of certain judicial offices.
1-8 BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
1-9 SECTION 1. Sections 2, 4, 6, 7, and 28, Article V, Texas
1-10 Constitution, are amended to read as follows:
1-11 Sec. 2. (a) The Supreme Court shall consist of the Chief
1-12 Justice and eight Justices, any five of whom shall constitute a
1-13 quorum, and the concurrence of five shall be necessary to a
1-14 decision of a case; provided, that when the business of the court
1-15 may require, the court may sit in sections as designated by the
1-16 court to hear argument of causes and to consider applications for
1-17 writs of error or other preliminary matters.
1-18 (b) No person shall be eligible to serve in the office of
1-19 Chief Justice or Justice of the Supreme Court unless the person is
1-20 licensed to practice law in this state and is, at the time of
1-21 election, a citizen of the United States and of this state, and has
1-22 attained the age of thirty-five years, and has been a practicing
1-23 lawyer, or a lawyer and judge of a court of record together at
1-24 least ten years.
2-1 (c) Said Chief Justice and Justices shall be subject, in the
2-2 manner provided by law, to retention or rejection on a nonpartisan
2-3 ballot [
elected (three of them each two years)] by the qualified
2-4 voters of the state at a general election; and on retention by the
2-5 voters shall hold their offices six years, or until their
2-6 successors are [ elected and] qualified. On appointment to a
2-7 vacancy as provided by Section 28, Article V, of this Constitution,
2-8 a Chief Justice or a Justice serves an initial term that ends
2-9 January 1 of the first odd-numbered year that begins more than 18
2-10 months after the Chief Justice or Justice takes the oath of office.
2-11 (d) The Chief Justice and Justices[ ; and] shall each receive
2-12 such compensation as shall be provided by law. [ In case of a
2-13 vacancy in the office of the Chief Justice or any Justice of the
2-14 Supreme Court, the Governor shall fill the vacancy until the next
2-15 general election for state officers, and at such general election
2-16 the vacancy for the unexpired term shall be filled by election by
2-17 the qualified voters of the state. The Justices of the Supreme
2-18 Court who may be in office at the time this amendment takes effect
2-19 shall continue in office until the expiration of their term of
2-20 office under the present Constitution, and until their successors
2-21 are elected and qualified.]
2-22 Sec. 4. (a) The Court of Criminal Appeals shall consist of
2-23 eight Judges and one Presiding Judge.
2-24 (b) The Judges shall have the same qualifications and
2-25 receive the same salaries as the Associate Justices of the Supreme
2-26 Court, and the Presiding Judge shall have the same qualifications
2-27 and receive the same salary as the Chief Justice of the Supreme
3-2 (c) The Presiding Judge and the Judges shall be subject, in
3-3 the manner provided by law, to retention or rejection on a
3-4 nonpartisan ballot [ elected] by the qualified voters of the state
3-5 at a general election and on retention by the voters shall hold
3-6 their offices for a term of six years. On appointment to a vacancy
3-7 as provided by Section 28, Article V, of this Constitution, a
3-8 Presiding Judge or Judge serves an initial term that ends January 1
3-9 of the first odd-numbered year that begins more than 18 months
3-10 after the Presiding Judge or Judge takes the oath of office. [ In
3-11 case of a vacancy in the office of a Judge of the Court of Criminal
3-12 Appeals, the Governor shall, with the advice and consent of the
3-13 Senate, fill said vacancy by appointment until the next succeeding
3-14 general election.]
3-15 (d) For the purpose of hearing cases, the Court of Criminal
3-16 Appeals may sit in panels of three Judges, the designation thereof
3-17 to be under rules established by the court. In a panel of three
3-18 Judges, two Judges shall constitute a quorum and the concurrence of
3-19 two Judges shall be necessary for a decision. The Presiding Judge,
3-20 under rules established by the court, shall convene the court en
3-21 banc for the transaction of all other business and may convene the
3-22 court en banc for the purpose of hearing cases. The court must sit
3-23 en banc during proceedings involving capital punishment and other
3-24 cases as required by law. When convened en banc, five Judges shall
3-25 constitute a quorum and the concurrence of five Judges shall be
3-26 necessary for a decision. The Court of Criminal Appeals may
3-27 appoint Commissioners in aid of the Court of Criminal Appeals as
4-1 provided by law.
4-2 Sec. 6. (a) The state shall be divided into courts of
4-3 appeals districts, with each district having a Chief Justice, two
4-4 or more other Justices, and such other officials as may be provided
4-5 by law. The Justices shall have the qualifications prescribed for
4-6 Justices of the Supreme Court.
4-7 (b) The Court of Appeals may sit in sections as authorized
4-8 by law. The concurrence of a majority of the Justices [ judges]
4-9 sitting in a section is necessary to decide a case. Said Court of
4-10 Appeals shall have appellate jurisdiction co-extensive with the
4-11 limits of their respective districts, which shall extend to all
4-12 cases of which the District Courts or County Courts have original
4-13 or appellate jurisdiction, under such restrictions and regulations
4-14 as may be prescribed by law. Provided, that the decision of said
4-15 courts shall be conclusive on all questions of fact brought before
4-16 them on appeal or error. Said courts shall have such other
4-17 jurisdiction, original and appellate, as may be prescribed by law.
4-18 (c) Each of said Courts of Appeals shall hold its sessions
4-19 at a place in its district to be designated by the Legislature, and
4-20 at such time as may be prescribed by law.
4-21 (d) Said Chief Justices and Justices shall be subject, in
4-22 the manner provided by law, to retention or rejection on a
4-23 nonpartisan ballot [ elected] by the qualified voters of their
4-24 respective districts at a general election, and on retention by the
4-25 voters serve for a term of six years. On appointment to a vacancy
4-26 as provided by Section 28, Article V, of this Constitution, a Chief
4-27 Justice or Justice serves an initial term that ends January 1 of
5-1 the first odd-numbered year that begins more than 18 months after
5-2 the Chief Justice or Justice takes the oath of office.
5-3 (e) A Chief Justice or Justice [ and] shall receive for the
5-4 Justice's [ their] services the sum provided by law.
5-5 (f) Each Court of Appeals shall appoint a clerk in the same
5-6 manner as the clerk of the Supreme Court which clerk shall receive
5-7 such compensation as may be fixed by law.
5-8 (g) All constitutional and statutory references to the
5-9 Courts of Civil Appeals shall be construed to mean the Courts of
5-11 Sec. 7. (a) The State shall be divided into judicial
5-12 districts, with each district having one or more Judges as may be
5-13 provided by law or by this Constitution.
5-14 (b) The Legislature shall provide for the election and
5-15 retention or rejection, on a nonpartisan ballot, of Judges of the
5-16 judicial districts of this State. The Legislature shall provide
5-17 for the retention or rejection by the qualified voters of the
5-18 entire judicial district.
5-19 (c) For the State's most populous counties, as determined by
5-20 law, the Judges of judicial districts composed entirely of one of
5-21 those counties shall be elected from commissioners court precincts
5-22 in the county as provided by law. All other district judges shall
5-23 be elected from within the boundaries of the judicial district. A
5-24 district judge elected from a commissioners court precinct serves
5-25 the entire judicial district. A district judge must reside in the
5-26 judicial district, and a district judge elected from a
5-27 commissioners court precinct may, but need not, reside in the
6-1 commissioners court precinct.
6-2 (d) Each district judge shall be elected by the qualified
6-3 voters at a General Election for a term of four (4) years beginning
6-4 on a date provided by general law. A district judge elected
6-5 following the occurrence of a vacancy serves a full term of four
6-6 (4) years without regard to the term of the district judge vacating
6-7 the office, and Section 27, Article XVI, of this Constitution does
6-8 not apply in that event.
6-9 (e) A district judge must [ and shall] be a citizen of the
6-10 United States and of this State, who is licensed to practice law in
6-11 this State and has been a practicing lawyer or a Judge of a Court
6-12 in this State, or both combined, for four (4) years next preceding
6-13 his election, who has resided in the judicial district in which he
6-14 was elected for two (2) years next preceding his election, [ and who
6-15 shall reside in his district during his term of office and hold his
6-16 office for the period of four (4) years,] and who shall receive for
6-17 his services an annual salary to be fixed by the Legislature.
6-18 (f) The Court shall conduct its proceedings at the county
6-19 seat of the county in which the case is pending, except as
6-20 otherwise provided by law. He shall hold the regular terms of his
6-21 Court at the County Seat of each County in his district in such
6-22 manner as may be prescribed by law. The Legislature shall have
6-23 power by General or Special Laws to make such provisions concerning
6-24 the terms or sessions of each Court as it may deem necessary.
6-25 (g) The Legislature shall also provide for the holding of
6-26 District Court when the Judge thereof is absent, or is from any
6-27 cause disabled or disqualified from presiding.
7-1 (h) Section 7a(i) of this article does not affect the
7-2 election of a district judge from a commissioners court precinct
7-3 under Subsection (c) of this section.
7-4 Sec. 28. (a) [ Vacancies In Offices Of Judges Of Superior
7-5 Courts To Be Filled By The Governor.] Vacancies in the office of
7-6 judges of the Supreme Court, the Court of Criminal Appeals, and the
7-7 Courts [ Court] of [ Civil] Appeals [ and the District Courts] shall
7-8 be filled by the Governor.
7-9 (b) The Governor shall fill vacancies under this section so
7-10 that the persons serving in those offices fairly reflect the
7-11 geographic distribution and ethnic and racial composition of the
7-12 population of the district served by the court or the state, as
7-13 applicable, according to the most recent federal decennial census.
7-14 (c) An appointment by the Governor under this section is
7-15 subject to Senate confirmation in the manner provided by this
7-16 Constitution. The Senate, in confirming appointments under this
7-17 section, shall ensure that the persons serving in those offices
7-18 fairly reflect the geographic distribution and ethnic and racial
7-19 composition of the population of the district served by the court
7-20 or the state, as applicable, according to the most recent federal
7-21 decennial census.
7-22 (d) A vacancy in the office of judge of a District Court
7-23 shall be filled by the Governor until the beginning of the term of
7-24 the judge elected to that court at the next succeeding General
7-26 (e) Vacancies[ ; and vacancies] in the office of County Judge
7-27 and Justices of the Peace shall be filled by the Commissioners
8-1 Court until the next succeeding General Election.
8-2 SECTION 2. Article V, Texas Constitution, is amended by
8-3 adding Section 32 to read as follows:
8-4 Sec. 32. The legislature may alter the terms of offices
8-5 created by this article as necessary to implement a change in
8-6 election date for those offices, a restructuring of any part of the
8-7 judicial system, or a staggering of the terms of those offices.
8-8 SECTION 3. The following temporary provision is added to the
8-9 Texas Constitution:
8-10 TEMPORARY PROVISION. (a) This temporary provision applies
8-11 to the constitutional amendment proposed by the 75th Legislature,
8-12 Regular Session, 1997, relating to the appointment of appellate
8-13 justices and judges by the governor and retention or rejection of
8-14 those justices and judges, to the election and retention or
8-15 rejection of district judges, to the election of district judges in
8-16 certain counties, and to the alteration of the terms of certain
8-17 judicial offices.
8-18 (b) The constitutional amendment takes effect January 1,
8-20 (c) This temporary provision expires January 1, 2006.
8-21 SECTION 4. This proposed constitutional amendment shall be
8-22 submitted to the voters at an election to be held November 4, 1997.
8-23 The ballot shall be printed to permit voting for or against the
8-24 proposition: "The constitutional amendment providing for the
8-25 governor to fill vacancies in the offices of appellate justices and
8-26 judges, providing for retention elections on a nonpartisan ballot
8-27 for those justices and judges, providing for the nonpartisan
9-1 election and retention or rejection of district judges, and
9-2 providing for the election of district judges from commissioners
9-3 court precincts in the state's most populous counties."