KEY QUESTION: What are the education requirements for County Judges and County Commissioners?
MAIN REFERENCE POINTS:
Judges: Texas Government Code Sections 56.006 and 74.025. The State of Texas delegated to the Court of Criminal Appeals the authority to establish the rules of judicial education. These rules are posted on the Texas Judicial Branch website at http://www.txcourts.gov/organizations/bar-education/judicial-education.aspx.
Commissioners: Texas Local Government Code 81.0025
- Each County Judge performing judicial functions will, as an official duty:
- complete before taking office, or within one year after taking office, at least 30 hours of instruction in the administrative duties of office and substantive, procedural, and evidentiary laws unless the Judge has previously complied with this requirement and has been absent from the bench less than one year before taking the present office;
- each fiscal year thereafter complete at least 16 hours of instruction in substantive, procedural, and evidentiary laws and court administration.
- Instruction credit completed during any fiscal year in excess of the minimum number of hours required may be applied to the following fiscal year’s requirement.
- The Court of Criminal Appeals website provides a list of program sponsors approved by the Court of Criminal Appeals Education Committee and the County Judges Education Committee for Constitutional County Judges that can be utilized to satisfy the education requirements. To view the list in full, go to: http://www.txcourts.gov/organizations/bar-education/judicial-education.aspx.
- A Constitutional County Judge is exempt from the continuing judicial education requirement for any fiscal year for which the Judge files an affidavit with the Registrar stating that the Judge does not perform judicial functions.
- A County Commissioner must successfully complete at least 16 classroom hours of continuing education in the performance of the duties of County Commissioners at least once in each 12-month period.
- The continuing education courses must be certified by an accredited public institution of higher education.
- A Commissioner is entitled to carry forward from one 12-month period to the next not more than eight continuing education hours that the Commissioner completes in excess of the required 16 hours.
- For the purposes of removal from office under Subchapter B, Chapter 87 of the Local Government Code, “incompetency” in the case of a County Commissioner includes the failure to complete hours of continuing education.
- This section does not apply to a County Commissioner who:
- serves in a county with a population of 1.3 million or more;
- meets at least one of the following requirements:
- has served continuously for 12 years or more; or
- is an attorney licensed to practice law in this state for 12 years or more and has completed at least 64 hours of continuing education approved by the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas; and
- attends at least 15 hours of staff briefing on continuing education subjects in each 12-month period as approved by the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas.
In addition, this section does not apply to a County Commissioner who serves in a county with a population of 225,000 or more and who:
- has served continuously for 12 years or more; and
- in the 12-month period, completes at least three semester credit hours of graduate-level course work in a field of study directly related to county government with a grade of B or higher in each course completed during the period.