By Thompson H.B. No. 900
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
1-1 AN ACT
1-2 relating to the administration of statutory probate courts and to
1-3 the assignment of statutory probate court judges.
1-4 BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
1-5 SECTION 1. Section 25.0022, Government Code, is amended to
1-6 read as follows:
1-7 Sec. 25.0022. ADMINISTRATION [
ASSIGNMENT OF JUDGES] OF
1-8 STATUTORY PROBATE COURTS. (a) "Statutory probate court" has the
1-9 meaning assigned by Section 3, Texas Probate Code.
1-10 (b) The judges of the statutory probate courts shall elect
1-11 from their number a presiding judge of the statutory probate
1-12 courts. The presiding judge serves a four-year term from the date
1-13 of qualification as the presiding judge.
1-14 (c) The presiding judge may perform the acts necessary to
1-15 carry out this section and to improve the management of the
1-16 statutory probate courts and the administration of justice.
1-17 (d) The presiding judge shall:
1-18 (1) ensure the promulgation of local rules of
1-19 administration in accordance with policies and guidelines set by
1-20 the supreme court;
1-21 (2) advise local statutory probate court judges on
1-22 case flow management practices and auxiliary court services;
1-23 (3) perform a duty of a local administrative statutory
1-24 probate court judge under Section 25.00224 if the local
2-1 administrative judge does not perform that duty;
2-2 (4) appoint an assistant presiding judge of the
2-3 statutory probate courts;
2-4 (5) call and preside over annual meetings of the
2-5 judges of the statutory probate courts at a time and place in the
2-6 state as designated by the presiding judge;
2-7 (6) call and convene other meetings of the judges of
2-8 the statutory probate courts as considered necessary by the
2-9 presiding judge to promote the orderly and efficient administration
2-10 of justice in the statutory probate courts;
2-11 (7) study available statistics reflecting the
2-12 condition of the dockets of the probate courts in the state to
2-13 determine the need for the assignment of judges under this section;
2-15 (8) compare local rules of court to achieve uniformity
2-16 of rules to the extent practical and consistent with local
2-18 (e) [ (c)] In addition to all other compensation, expenses,
2-19 and perquisites authorized by law, the presiding judge shall be
2-20 paid for performing the duties of a presiding judge an annual
2-21 salary equal to the maximum salary authorized by Section 74.051(b)
2-22 for a presiding judge of an administrative judicial region. The
2-23 presiding judge is entitled to receive reasonable expenses incurred
2-24 in administering those duties.
2-25 [ (d)] The salary and expenses are paid by the counties that
2-26 have statutory probate courts, apportioned according to the number
2-27 of statutory probate courts in the county.
3-1 (f) [ (e)] Each county pays annually to the presiding judge,
3-2 from fees collected pursuant to Section 118.052(2)(A)(vi), Local
3-3 Government Code [ Section 1A, Article 3930(b), Revised Statutes],
3-4 the amount of the salary apportioned to it as provided by this
3-5 section and the other expenses authorized by this section.
3-6 [ (f)] The presiding judge shall place each county's payment
3-7 of salary and other expenses in an administrative fund, from which
3-8 the salary and other expenses are paid. The salary shall be paid
3-9 in equal monthly installments.
3-10 (g) [ The presiding judge serves for a four-year term from
3-11 the date of qualification as the presiding judge.]
3-12 [ (h) The presiding judge shall appoint an assistant
3-13 presiding judge of the statutory probate courts.] The assistant
3-14 presiding judge may assign probate judges as provided by this
3-15 section and perform the office of presiding judge:
3-16 (1) on the death or resignation of the presiding judge
3-17 and until a successor presiding judge is elected; or
3-18 (2) when the presiding judge is unable to perform the
3-19 duties of the office because of absence, disqualification,
3-20 disabling illness, or other incapacity.
3-21 (h) A judge or a former or retired judge of a statutory
3-22 probate court [ (i) Judges] may be assigned [ in the manner provided
3-23 by this section] to hold court in a statutory probate court, county
3-24 court, or any statutory court exercising probate jurisdiction when:
3-25 (1) a statutory probate [ the regular] judge requests
3-26 assignment of another judge to the judge's court;
3-27 (2) a statutory probate [ the regular] judge is absent,
4-1 disabled, or disqualified for any reason;
4-2 (3) a statutory probate [ the regular] judge is present
4-3 or is trying cases as authorized by the constitution and laws of
4-4 this state and the condition of the court's docket makes it
4-5 necessary to appoint an additional judge;
4-6 (4) the office of a statutory probate [ the regular]
4-7 judge is vacant;
4-8 (5) the presiding judge of an administrative judicial
4-9 district requests the assignment of a statutory probate judge to
4-10 hear a probate matter in a county court or statutory county court;
4-11 [ or]
4-12 (6) a motion to recuse the [ regular] judge of a
4-13 statutory probate court has been filed;
4-14 (7) a county court judge requests the assignment of a
4-15 statutory probate judge to hear a probate matter in the county
4-16 court; or
4-17 (8) a local administrative statutory probate court
4-18 judge requests the assignment of a statutory probate judge to hear
4-19 a matter in a statutory probate court.
4-20 (i) A judge assigned under this section has the
4-21 jurisdiction, powers, and duties given by Sections 5, 5A, 5B, 606,
4-22 607, and 608, Texas Probate Code, to statutory probate court judges
4-23 by general law.
4-24 (j) To be eligible for assignment under this section a
4-25 former or retired judge of a statutory probate court must:
4-26 (1) not have been removed from office; and
4-27 (2) certify under oath to the presiding judge, on a
5-1 form prescribed by the state board of regional judges, that the
5-2 judge did not resign from office after having received notice that
5-3 formal proceedings by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct had
5-4 been instituted as provided by Section 33.022 and before the final
5-5 disposition of the proceedings [ A judge or former or retired judge
5-6 of a statutory probate court may be assigned by the presiding judge
5-7 as provided by this section].
5-8 (k) [ The presiding judge shall call and preside over an
5-9 annual meeting of the judges of the statutory probate courts on a
5-10 date and at a time and place in the state designated by the
5-11 presiding judge.]
5-12 [ (l) The presiding judge may call and convene additional
5-13 meetings of the judges of the statutory probate courts that the
5-14 presiding judge considers necessary for the promotion of the
5-15 orderly and efficient administration of justice.]
5-16 [ (m) At the annual meeting, the judges shall:]
5-17 [ (1) study the statistics reflecting the condition of
5-18 the dockets of the probate courts of the state to determine the
5-19 need for the assignment of judges under this section; and]
5-20 [ (2) compare the local rules of court to achieve the
5-21 uniformity of rules that is practical and consistent with local
5-23 [ (n) A judge assigned under this section has the
5-24 jurisdiction, powers, and duties given by Sections 5, 5A, 606, and
5-25 607, Texas Probate Code, to the regular judge of the court to which
5-27 [ (o)] Except as otherwise provided by this section, the
6-1 salary, compensation, and expenses of a judge assigned under this
6-2 section are paid in accordance with state law.
6-3 (l) [ (p)] The daily compensation of a former or retired
6-4 judge for purposes of this section is set at an amount equal to the
6-5 daily compensation of a judge of a statutory probate court in the
6-6 county in which the former or retired judge is assigned. A former
6-7 or retired judge assigned to a county that does not have a
6-8 statutory probate court shall be paid an amount equal to the daily
6-9 compensation of a judge of a statutory probate court in the county
6-10 where the assigned judge was last elected.
6-11 (m) [ (q)] An assigned judge is entitled to receive
6-12 reasonable and necessary expenses for travel, lodging, and food.
6-13 The assigned judge shall furnish the presiding judge, for
6-14 certification, an accounting of those expenses with a statement of
6-15 the number of days the judge served.
6-16 (n) [ (r)] The presiding judge shall certify to the county
6-17 judge in the county in which the assigned judge served:
6-18 (1) the expenses approved under Subsection (m) [ (q)];
6-20 (2) a determination of the assigned judge's salary.
6-21 (o) [ (s)] The county in which the assigned judge served
6-22 shall pay out of the general fund of the county:
6-23 (1) expenses certified under Subsection (n) [ (q)] to
6-24 the assigned judge; and
6-25 (2) the salary certified under Subsection (n) [ (q)] to
6-26 the county in which the assigned judge serves, or, if the assigned
6-27 judge is a former or retired judge, to the assigned judge.
7-1 (p) [ (t)] In addition to all compensation and expenses
7-2 authorized by this section and other law, a judge who is assigned
7-3 to a court outside the county of the judge's residence is entitled
7-4 to receive $25 for each day or fraction of a day served. The
7-5 county in which the judge served shall pay the additional
7-6 compensation from the county's general fund on certification by the
7-7 presiding judge.
7-8 (q) [ (u)] When required to attend an annual or special
7-9 meeting prescribed by this section, a judge is entitled to receive,
7-10 in addition to all other compensation allowed by law, actual and
7-11 necessary travel expenses incurred going to and returning from the
7-12 place of the meeting and actual and necessary expenses while
7-13 attending the meeting. On certification by the presiding judge,
7-14 the judge's county of residence shall pay the expenses from the
7-15 county's general fund.
7-16 (r) [ (v) The presiding judge may perform the acts necessary
7-17 to carry out the provisions of this section and to improve the
7-18 management of the statutory probate courts and the administration
7-19 of justice.]
7-20 [ (w)] Chapter 74 and Subchapter I, Chapter 75, do not apply
7-21 to the assignment under this section of statutory probate court
7-23 (s) The presiding judge may appoint any special or standing
7-24 committees of statutory probate court judges necessary or desirable
7-25 for court management and administration.
7-26 [ (x) To be eligible for assignment under this section a
7-27 former or retired judge of a statutory probate court must:]
8-1 [ (1) not have been removed from office; and]
8-2 [ (2) certify under oath to the presiding judge, on a
8-3 form prescribed by the state board of regional judges, that the
8-4 judge did not resign from office after having received notice that
8-5 formal proceedings by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct had
8-6 been instituted as provided in Section 33.022 and before the final
8-7 disposition of the proceedings.]
8-8 SECTION 2. Subchapter B, Chapter 25, Government Code, is
8-9 amended by adding Sections 25.00223-25.00226 to read as follows:
8-10 Sec. 25.00223. LOCAL ADMINISTRATIVE STATUTORY PROBATE COURT
8-11 JUDGE. (a) There is a local administrative statutory probate court
8-12 judge in each county that has a statutory probate court.
8-13 (b) In a county with two or more statutory probate courts,
8-14 the judges of those courts shall elect a statutory probate court
8-15 judge as local administrative statutory probate court judge for a
8-16 term of not more than two years. A local administrative statutory
8-17 probate court judge may not be elected on the basis of rotation or
8-18 seniority. If the judges of those courts fail to elect a local
8-19 administrative statutory probate court judge, the presiding judge
8-20 of the statutory probate courts shall designate one of the
8-21 qualified judges of the county as the local administrative
8-22 statutory probate court judge for a term of not more than two
8-24 (c) In a county with only one statutory probate court, the
8-25 statutory probate court judge serves as the local administrative
8-26 statutory probate court judge.
8-27 Sec. 25.00224. DUTIES OF LOCAL ADMINISTRATIVE STATUTORY
9-1 PROBATE COURT JUDGE. A local administrative statutory probate
9-2 court judge, for the statutory probate courts for which the judge
9-3 serves as local administrative judge, shall:
9-4 (1) implement and execute the local rules of
9-5 administration, including the assignment, docketing, transfer, and
9-6 hearing of cases;
9-7 (2) promulgate local rules of administration if the
9-8 other statutory probate court judges do not act by a majority vote;
9-9 (3) recommend to the presiding judge of the statutory
9-10 probate courts any needs for assignment from outside the county to
9-11 dispose of court caseloads;
9-12 (4) supervise the expeditious movement of court
9-13 caseloads, subject to local, regional, and state rules of
9-15 (5) provide to the office of court administration or
9-16 the presiding judge of the statutory probate courts any requested
9-17 statistical and management information;
9-18 (6) set the hours and places for holding court in the
9-20 (7) supervise the employment and performance of
9-21 nonjudicial personnel;
9-22 (8) supervise the budget and fiscal matters of the
9-23 local statutory probate courts, subject to local rules of
9-25 (9) coordinate and cooperate with any other local
9-26 administrative court judge in the county in the assignment of cases
9-27 in the courts' concurrent jurisdiction for the efficient operation
10-1 of the court system and the effective administration of justice;
10-3 (10) perform other duties as may be directed by the
10-4 presiding judge of the statutory probate courts.
10-5 Sec. 25.00225. LOCAL RULES OF ADMINISTRATION. (a) The
10-6 statutory probate court judges in each county shall, by majority
10-7 vote, adopt local rules of administration.
10-8 (b) The rules must provide for:
10-9 (1) assignment, docketing, transfer, and hearing of
10-10 all cases, subject to jurisdictional limitations of the statutory
10-11 probate courts; and
10-12 (2) fair and equitable division of caseloads.
10-13 (c) The rules may:
10-14 (1) designate courts responsible for certain matters;
10-15 (2) provide for judicial vacation, sick leave,
10-16 attendance at educational programs, and similar matters; and
10-17 (3) provide for any other matter necessary to carry
10-18 out this subchapter or to improve the administration and management
10-19 of the court system and its auxiliary services.
10-20 (d) Rules relating to the transfer of cases may not allow
10-21 the transfer of cases from one court to another unless the cases
10-22 are within the jurisdiction of the court to which it is
10-23 transferred. When a case is transferred from one court to another
10-24 as provided by this section, all processes, writs, bonds,
10-25 recognizances, or other obligations issued from the transferring
10-26 court are returnable to the court to which the case is transferred
10-27 as if originally issued by that court.
11-1 Sec. 25.00226. HEARING CASES. (a) A statutory probate court
11-2 judge, including an active, former, or retired judge assigned to a
11-3 court having jurisdiction as provided by Section 5, 5A, 5B, 606,
11-4 607, or 608, Texas Probate Code, may hear and determine a matter
11-5 pending in any statutory probate court in the county regardless of
11-6 whether the matter is preliminary or final or whether there is a
11-7 judgment in the matter. The judge may sign a judgment or order in
11-8 any of the courts regardless of whether the case is transferred.
11-9 The judgment, order, or action is valid and binding as if the case
11-10 were pending in the court of the judge who acts in the matter.
11-11 (b) The judges shall try any case and hear any proceeding as
11-12 assigned by the local administrative statutory probate court judge
11-13 or the presiding judge of the statutory probate courts.
11-14 (c) The clerk shall file, docket, transfer, and assign the
11-15 cases as directed by the local administrative statutory probate
11-16 court judge in accordance with the local rules or by the presiding
11-17 judge of the statutory probate courts.
11-18 (d) Statutory probate court judges may serve as masters and
11-19 magistrates of courts, other than their own, subject to other
11-20 provisions of law and court rules.
11-21 (e) A judge who has jurisdiction over a suit pending in one
11-22 county may, unless objected to by any party, conduct any of the
11-23 judicial proceedings except the trial on the merits in a different
11-25 (f) A pretrial judge assigned to hear pretrial matters in
11-26 related cases under Sections 5, 5A, 5B, 606, 607, and 608, Texas
11-27 Probate Code, may hold pretrial proceedings and hearings on
12-1 pretrial matters for a case to which the judge has been assigned
12-3 (1) the county in which the case is pending; or
12-4 (2) a county in which a related case to which the
12-5 pretrial judge has been assigned is pending.
12-6 SECTION 3. Section 26.012, Government Code, is amended to
12-7 read as follows:
12-8 Sec. 26.012. Assignment of Visiting Judge For Probate,
12-9 Guardianship, and Mental Health Matters. If the county judge is
12-10 absent, incapacitated, or disqualified to act in a probate,
12-11 guardianship, or mental health matter, a visiting judge shall be
12-12 assigned in accordance with Section 25.0022(h) [ 25.0022(i)].
12-13 SECTION 4. This Act takes effect September 1, 2001.