Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct:

An Inventory of Public Records and Sanctions at the Texas State Archives, 1973, 1978-1988



Overview

Creator: Texas. State Commission on Judicial Conduct.
Title: Public records and sanctions
Dates: 1973, 1978-1988
Abstract: These records consist of public records, sanctions, and proceedings, which are essentially case files for judges who have been investigated and sanctioned by the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct. The records date 1973, 1978-1988. Types of records present in these files include the following: public reprimands, orders of censure, public admonishments, requests for removal, etc.; findings of fact and conclusions of law; complaint forms; agenda briefs with attachments (correspondence, press releases, newspaper articles, and other exhibits including but not limited to cancelled checks, police citations, ordinances, city council minutes, etc.); verbatim transcripts; opinion and judgment of the Special Court of Review; audio tapes of personal appearances; etc.
Quantity: 0.71 cubic ft.
Language English.

Agency History

The Texas Judicial Qualifications Commission was created by Constitutional amendment in 1965 (Texas Constitution, Article V, Section 1-a). Following the example of California, Texas was only the second state in the United States to create such an essentially investigatory body; now every state of the Union has a judicial disciplinary agency. The original commission was composed of nine members: two appeals judges and two district judges (named by the Texas Supreme Court), two members of the State Bar (named by the State Bar), and three citizen members (named by the Governor). In 1977, the name was changed to the Commission on Judicial Conduct, which was now enlarged to 11 members: five judges (one appellate judge, one district judge, one county court-at-law judge, one justice of the peace, and one municipal court judge), all named by the Supreme Court; two lawyers (who must each have ten consecutive years of practice in Texas) named by the State Bar; and four public members (who must be at least 30 years old and not licensed to practice law) named by the Governor. Each appointment is subject to the advice and consent of the State Senate. Members serve 6-year terms. The members elect their own chair.

Jurisdiction of the original Commission included Supreme Court justices, state appellate judges, and district judges. In 1970, the jurisdiction of the commission was broadened to include all judicial officers of the state: justices of the Supreme Court, appellate judges, district judges, county judges, justices of the peace, municipal judges, judges of courts of domestic relations, juvenile court judges, probate judges, masters, magistrates, and retired or former judges assigned as visiting judges (a number totaling 3,000 in 1993).

The commission opens an investigation when a complaint is received, but may also initiate investigations following news reports of possible misconduct. Such proceedings are confidential until a formal hearing is convened, unless the judge being investigated asks that they be open, or unless the commission issues a public requirement for further training or education. The public hearing may be before the commission or before a special master chosen by the commission.

The commission may do any of the following: dismiss the complaint; order a public or private admonition, warning, or reprimand; require a judge to obtain additional training or education, or to undergo a physical or psychiatric exam; suspend, with or without pay, a judge charged with a felony or misdemeanor involving misconduct in office; seek removal or censure through formal proceedings (amounting to a public trial).

A sanction issued by the commission on a complaint received after October 20, 1987 may be appealed to a special court of review, composed of three justices from courts of appeal, selected by lot by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (House Bill 142, 70th Legislature, 2nd Called Session, 1987). In the case of a recommendation for removal or formal censure, the matter goes to the chief justice of the Supreme Court, who chooses a tribunal of seven judges by lot from the courts of appeals; appeal of this decision is to the Texas Supreme Court. (In the first ten years of the commission's existence, it issued only one recommendation for removal, which was then rejected by the Supreme Court, who instead censured the judge.) This procedure represents an alternative to other methods of removal, such as impeachment, which still remain available options.

Improper conduct is defined as, but is not limited to, failure to execute business in a timely manner, willful violation of the Penal Code or the Code of Judicial Conduct, or of Supreme Court rules, and incompetence.

The commission cannot do any of the following: change any court decision; act as an appellate review board; give legal advice; issue advisory opinions; or sanction any judge who acted in good faith (a determination subject to the judgment of the commission).

The commission reported an average increase of 9.5 percent per year in the number of complaints filed between 1983 and 1994.

The commission has been charged with enforcement, among other things, of the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct. Following both the letter and the spirit of this Code, there are three objectives, which the commission has set for itself: to preserve the integrity of all judges in the state; to ensure public confidence in the judiciary; and to encourage judges to maintain high standards of both professional and personal conduct.

The Commission on Judicial Conduct has no separate divisions, just an executive director, a general counsel, legal staff, and administrative staff, totaling 12.5 full-time equivalent employees in 1996.


Scope and Contents of the Records

These records consist of public records, sanctions, and proceedings, which are essentially case files for judges who have been investigated and sanctioned by the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct. The records date 1973, 1978-1988. Types of records present in these files include the following: public reprimands, orders of censure, public admonishments, requests for removal, etc.; findings of fact and conclusions of law; complaint forms; agenda briefs with attachments (correspondence, press releases, newspaper articles, and other exhibits including but not limited to cancelled checks, police citations, ordinances, city council minutes, etc.); verbatim transcripts; opinion and judgment of the Special Court of Review; audio tapes of personal appearances; etc.


 

Organization of the Records

These records are organized into two series.
Public sanctions (prior to 1988), 1973, 1978-1987, 0.24 cubic ft.
Public records and sanctions (beginning in 1988), 1988, 0.47 cubic ft.

Restrictions

Restrictions on Access

None.

Restrictions on Use

None.


Index Terms

The terms listed here were used to catalog the records. The terms can be used to find similar or related records.
Corporate Names:
Texas. State Judicial Qualifications Commission.
Subjects:
Judges--Texas--Discipline.
Document Types:
Case files--Texas--Judges--1973, 1978-1988.
Functions:
Enforcing judicial ethics.
Punishing judges.
Investigating judges.

Related Material

The following materials are offered as possible sources of further information on the agencies and subjects covered by the records. The listing is not exhaustive.

Texas State Archives
Texas Supreme Court, case B-5898, In the Matter of O.P. Carrillo, 1976, 0.1 cubic ft.
Texas State Judicial Qualifications Commission, Hearings for removal of Judge O.P. Carrillo (Supreme Court exhibit), 1971-1976, 4.47 cubic ft.
William W. Kilgarlin, Texas Supreme Court Justice's Working Papers, 1983-1988, 51 cubic ft.
Publications
The published Annual Report of the Commission on Judicial Conduct (collected by the Texas State Publications Depository Program and located in the Texas Documents collection of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission) summarizes examples of improper conduct, and analyzes types of sanctions statistically.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

(Identify the item and cite the series), Public records and sanctions, Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Accession Information

Accession number: 1998/222

These records were transferred to the Archives and Information Services Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission by the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct on July 9, 1998.

Processing Information

Tony Black, July 1998


Detailed Description of the Records

 

Public sanctions (prior to 1988), 1973, 1978-1987,
0.24 cubic ft.

Types of records in this series include public reprimands, orders of censure, public admonishments, requests for removal, etc.; findings of fact and conclusions of law; copies of proceedings from the South Western Reporter (from the case that went before the Texas Supreme Court, regarding David H. Brown); etc. These records consist of the public sanctions that resulted from 31 cases decided by the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct in 1973 and between 1978 and 1987.
These files are relatively small (1 to 15 pages each), due to the high degree of confidentiality required by law prior to 1988. Only open records are were transferred to the Texas State Archives. Supporting documents remained confidential through August 31, 1987, unless (after 1983) they resulted in a formal hearing. The two pieces of legislation prior to 1988 that defined this confidentiality are quoted below:
Effective June 14, 1967, "All papers filed with and proceedings before the Commission or a Master shall be confidential, and the filing of papers with, and the giving of testimony before, the commission, Master or the Supreme Court shall be privileged; provided that upon being filed in the Supreme Court the record loses its confidential character." (Texas Constitution, Article V, Section 1-a(10); House Bill 378, 60th Legislature, Regular Session, 1967).
Effective August 29, 1983, "The papers filed with and proceedings before the commission are confidential prior to the convening of a formal hearing. The formal hearing, and all papers, records, documents, and other evidence introduced during the formal hearing, shall be public." (House Bill 734, 68th Legislature, Regular Session, 1983, codified in V.T.C.A., Government Code, Section 33.032(a)-(b)).
Arrangement
Arrangement is chronological, by the date of final action.
Preferred Citation
(Identify the item), Public sanctions (prior to 1988), Public records and sanctions, Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
box
1998/222-1 Brown, David H., 1973
Friend, Harlan D., 1978
Duncan, Jimmie, 1978
Cole, Robert R., 1979
White, E.B., 1979
Price, Tom, 1979
Johnson, George W., 1979
Scofield, Robert G., 1980
Gann, Richard V., 1980
Brown, Sidney J., 1980
Valderas, Harold L., 1980
Janowski, Leo, 1981
McAfee, Jerry, 1981
Davila, Emilio, 1981
Whitaker, Mary, 1982
Haskett, Martin, 1982
Scott, James M. Jr., 1984
Dinkins, James W., 1984
Bailey, James, 1984
McMillian, Eugene, 1984
Cox, Carolyn, 1984
Samples, Benjamin N., 1984
Harkins, Robert F., 1984
Scott, James M. Jr., 1985
Cranford, Richard W., 1985
Richardson, Tom W. Sr., 1986
Spears, Wayne, 1986
Hill, John P., 1986
Khoury, Alvin, 1987
Ray, C.L., 1987
Kilgarlin, William, 1987



 

Public records and sanctions (beginning in 1988), 1988,
0.47 cubic ft.

Types of records in this series include public reprimands/warnings plus supporting documentation: complaint forms; agenda briefs with attachments (correspondence, a press release, newspaper articles, and other exhibits including but not limited to cancelled checks, police citations, ordinances, city council minutes, etc.); verbatim transcripts; opinion and judgment of the Special Court of Review; audio tapes of personal appearances; etc. These files consist of the public records of the five cases heard by the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct which resulted in sanctions, all dating 1988. What is referred to as the Public Record includes the following: the original complaint, the letter of inquiry from the commission to the judge, the judge's reply, an invitation to the judge to appear before the commission, the agenda (a brief prepared by commission staff outlining the issues of the allegation), the final action by the commission, and supporting documentation. As a statement attached to each file explains, "Attached hereto are all papers, documents, evidence, and records considered by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, or forwarded to the commission by its staff in connection with the public reprimand (or warning). ... Matters extraneous to the Public Sanction have been deleted."
Effective August 31, 1987, "If the commission issues a public admonition, warning, reprimand, or requirement that a person obtain additional training or education, all papers, documents, evidence, and records considered by the commission, or forwarded to the commission by its staff, in the proceedings shall be public." (House Bill 1523, 70th Legislature, Regular Session, 1987, codified in V.T.C.A., Government Code, Section 33.032(c)).
These files document the major function of the commission, which is to discipline judges found guilty of improper conduct or incompetence. Supporting documents which resulted in a public sanction against a judge, but which were not introduced during a public hearing, lost their confidentiality after August 31, 1987. However, cases that are investigated but do not result in a public sanction remain confidential. In other words, every case begins as a case file, and is at that time confidential; those cases which result in public hearings, or which result in public sanctions without hearings, become open records.
Arrangement
Arrangement is chronological by date of final action, with the exception of the one case appealed to the Special Court of Review (that of James Brady), which is filed first.
Preferred Citation
(Identify the item), Public records and sanctions (beginning in 1988), Public records and sanctions, Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
box
1998/222-2 Brady, James C. (#2985) [appealed to Special Court of Review], 1988
Burton, Eual V. (#2762), 1988
Moore, Brunson (#1642, 1700, 2156, 2635), 1988
Duval, Floyd H. (#3000), 1988
Campbell, Floyd L. (#3054), 1988