Court Recorder in Lieu of Court Reporter
Re: Authority of a judge of a court of record to appoint an official court recorder in lieu of an official court reporter (RQ-0327-KP).
Submitted by Dana Norris Young
Cherokee County Attorney
Summary, Opinion No. KP-318: Government Code 52.041 expressly requires each judge of a court of record to appoint an official court reporter. Accordingly, a court is unlikely to conclude that a judge of a court of record may appoint an official court recorder in lieu of an official court reporter. Government Code section 52.051 and Local Government Code section 152.905 provide for the setting of salaries of court reporters. Neither apply to the position of court recorder, and nothing in either provision provides a basis to conclude that they may apply to other judicial positions. Thus, as a practical matter, a court should hire and remunerate a court recorder as it does its other staff not covered by these provisions.
Authority to Issue a Capias
Re: Whether in misdemeanor cases the trial court has authority to issue a capias on the filing of an information or complaint under article 23.04, Code of Criminal Procedure (RQ-0331-KP).
Submitted by Mark A. Gonzalez
Nueces County District Attorney
Summary, Opinion No. KP-321: A capias is a writ from a criminal court directed to any peace officer commanding the officer to arrest a person accused of an offense and bring the arrested person before that court. Chapter 23 generally applies to post-bail and post-commitment settings. Construed within the context of chapter 23, articles 23.01 and 23.04 identify the court that may issue a capias after commitment or the posting of bail. Thus, the judge of a court that obtains jurisdiction of a misdemeanor case upon the filing of an information or complaint may issue a capias after commitment or bail and before trial.
Authority to Require Facial Coverings
Submitted by Vince Ryan
Harris County Attorney
Re: County authority to require facial coverings in courtrooms, courthouses, and county buildings (RQ-0356-KP).
Summary, Opinion No. KP-322: Local Government Code subsection 291.001(3) provides that the Commissioners Court shall maintain and regulate a county courthouse and other county offices and buildings. Pursuant to this authority, a Commissioners Court may require any person entering a courthouse or other county-owned or controlled building to wear a facial covering. Judges possess broad inherent authority to control orderly proceedings in their courtrooms, and pursuant to that authority they could require individuals in the courtroom to wear facial coverings if necessary to maintain order and safety. In addition, the Texas Supreme Court has issued an emergency order requiring all judges to comply with guidance promulgated by the Office of Court Administration, which requires facial coverings by all individuals while in the courthouse. Thus, courts may require any person entering the courthouse in which they preside to wear a facial covering while in the courthouse. Government Code section 418.108 authorizes a County Judge to declare a local state of disaster, and upon such declaration, vests the County Judge with authority to control the occupancy of premises in the disaster area. Pursuant to this emergency authority, a County Judge operating under a local disaster order could require a person to wear a facial covering when occupying a courthouse or other county-owned or controlled building. Executive Order GA-29 allows local law enforcement and local officials to impose a fine not to exceed $250 for an individual’s second violation of a mask requirement. In addition, public officials may require facial coverings for those entering the courthouse or other county buildings and may deny entry to those individuals refusing to wear a facial covering inside those premises.