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Dealing With Self-represented Litigants

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V.G. YOUNG SCHOOLFORCOUNTY COMMISSIONERS COURTSFEBRUARY 21, 2018
ADMINISTRATIVE DUTIES OF DISTRICT JUDGES
Local administrative judge
Each county has a local administrative judge –Government Code Section 74.0912Selected by other judgesCan have a local administrative CCL judge – Government Code Section 74.0911
Duties of the Local Administrative Judge
Implement local rules, including assignment, docketing and transferAppoint committeesRecommend need for assignment of judgeSupervise caseload movementProvide Supreme Court and OCA with stats
Set hours and place for holding courtSupervise employment and performance ofnonjudicialpersonnelSupervise budget and fiscal matters of the local courtsCoordinate with any other local administrative judges in efficient operation of concurrent cases
Court Appointed Counsel
Local judges adopt a plan for indigent representation in criminal and juvenile casesPlan is approved by local judges, then forwarded to Regional Administrative Judge for approval, then on to Office of Court Administration
Attorney’s Fees
Criminal District Judges adopt a fee schedule (CCrP26.05)– if only one judge handles criminal cases, then the Local Admin judge adoptsFee schedule includes fixed rate, minimum and maximum hourly rates, and daily ratesApproval by judge must be made on reporting form
Jury Management
Government Code Section 62.011 – Judges recommend adoption of an electronic “jury wheel”Court may suspend requirements re read/write and previous service in small countiesCourt may excuse jurors for a specified time or permanently
Court Reporters
Judges of courts of record shall appoint an official court reporter – Government Code Section 52.041Judges set salary; in counties of less than one million, district judges can raise 10% per year without Commissioner’s Court approval – Government Code Section 52.051One of the commissioners’ most liked statutes! -
Bailiffs
No general statute regarding appointment by judgesArticle 36.24 of the Code of Criminal Procedure provides that the sheriff furnish a bailiff to act for the court (many large cities use this method, but most judges don’t like it)Provides for bailiffs in certain district courts around the state
Grand Juries
Until recently, Article 19.01 of the Code of Criminal Procedure provided for two methods to select grand juries“commissioner” method“regular jury” methodNow courts must use “regular jury” methodCourt must also appoint presiding grand jurorDone in conjunction with District Clerk
Interpreters
TRCP Rule 183 – judges appoint interpreters for individual civil cases and set their feesFor border counties, check Chapter 21 of the Civil Practice and Remedies CodeArticles 38.30 and 38.31 of the Code of Criminal Procedure provide for interpreters in criminal cases, both speaking and hearingSome specific statutes provide for certain courts to hire interpreters and their compensationLocal Govt. Code Section 152.903 – Commissioners court may set salaries of certain interpreters
County Purchasing Agents
District Judges MAY appoint purchasing agents for the county with the County Judge (less than 150,000 population) or 3 judges/2 commissioners in larger countiesIf only one DJ, the one CommissionerPurchasing agent holds office for two years, subject to reappointment
Juvenile Board
Section 152.0032, Human Resources Code, provides that the County Judge, District Judges and any CCL judges who serve as a juvenile court comprise the Juvenile BoardThe Board establishes a juvenile probation department and employs the Director of the department, who then hires staffThe Board sets the budget, although commissioners court has authority to set total amountOther provisions vary greatly, depending on county
Vacancies in Office
If a vacancy occurs in the office of District Clerk, the District Judge(s) are empowered to appoint a person to fill the office (Section 51.301, Government Code)If multiple judges cannot agree, the disagreement is certified to the Governor, who calls a special election
Bail Bond Board
All parties having a population of more than 110,000 must a bail bond board – smaller countiesmayhave oneThe board permits licensure of bondsmen in a countyBoard is made up of one Sheriff or designee; one District Judge; one CCL judge; one member from commissionerscourt, district attorney representative; one bail bondsman chosen by al licensed bail bondsmen in the county); one justice of the peace, district clerk or designee, county clerk or designee (if Clerk has responsibility over criminal matters) one municipal judge; county treasurer or designee; and one criminal defense attorney (Section 1704.053, Occupations Code)
Condemnations
Section 21.014, Property Code, requires a judge to appoint three commissioners in condemnation casesCommissioners must be property owners in countyCommissioners make award for taking of property
A Judge By Any Other Name…
Family Code Section 201.001 provides for appointment of associate judges in family law cases by courts with jurisdiction over family law mattersFamily Code Section 201.101 permits a regional Administrative Judge to appoint an associate judge to hear Title IV-D (AG child support) matters
A Judge By Any Other Name…(continued)
Criminal, civil and probate associate judges (Govt. Code §54A) and juvenile associate judges (Fam. Code §201.309) may be appointedThese positions can delay the need for court creation, but they cannot hear jury trials.
Community Supervision
Section 76.002, Government Code, requires District and CCL judges who handle criminal cases to establish a probation department and approve its budget and community justice planJudges are also authorized to employ the Chief Probation OfficerOne department serves all courts and counties in a district if there are two or judicial districts in the county; or if a district includes more than one county
Community Supervision(continued)
One department serves all courts in a judicial district if county has two or more judicial districts or a district includes more than one countyTexas Board of Criminal Justice may allow more than one department to serve a judicial district that includes more than one county if it will provide administrative convenience or economy or improve services
County Auditors
Probably the most controversial (and unloved) figure in the courthouseAuditors are appointed in the following situations:County population more than 10,000County of less than 10,000 and district judges choose to do soCounty of less than 10,000 and commissioners determine auditor necessary to carry out county business and district judges agreeAuditor’s term is two years
County Auditors(continued)
District judges must set salary of auditor, which cannot he higher than the highest paid elected county officer (excluding CCL judges) – Sections 152.031 and 152.032, Local Govt. CodeDistrict judges also set salaries of assistants in the auditor’s office – Section 152.034, Local Govt. CodeRequires public meeting, notice in newspaper, record vote, transcribed and maintained as public record
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Dealing With Self-represented Litigants