PLEASE NOTE: Nothing in this publishing or on this website should be taken as legal advice.
INFORMATIONAL: Texas Law Allows Petition to Remove Certain Elected Officials
It always seems people complain about decisions certain officials make, yet may not realize there are avenues of redress built into Texas Law. Recently, a Nueces County resident filed a petition to remove the District Attorney. The petition for removal was 118 pages.
The truth is, if certain elements are met, specific elected officials can be removed from office. The Texas Legislature, since 1987, has a law on the books which explains the process and requirements. The law is codified in the Local Government Code under Section 87.
Some key terms to remember, as stated in the legislature are the following:
Sec. 87.011 Definitions
In this subchapter:
(1) “District attorney” includes a criminal district attorney.
(2) “Incompetency” means:
(A) gross ignorance of official duties;
(B) gross carelessness in the discharge of those duties; or
(C) unfitness or inability to promptly and properly discharge official duties because of a serious physical or mental defect that did not exist at the time of the officer’s election.
(3) “Official misconduct” means intentional, unlawful behavior relating to official duties by an officer entrusted with the administration of justice or the execution of the law. The term includes an intentional or corrupt failure, refusal, or neglect of an officer to perform a duty imposed on the officer by law.Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 149, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 149, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.
Elected Officials Subject to Removal Under Texas Law
The process described in this publishing is only specific to certain roles. These roles are very important to the wellbeing of any county community in Texas. The law goes on to list specific titles which can be removed, and they are the following:
Section 87.012 – Officers Subject to Removal
The district judge may, under this subchapter, remove from office:
(1) a district attorney;
(2) a county attorney;
(3) a county judge;
(4) a county commissioner;
(5) a county clerk;
(6) a district clerk;
(7) a district and county clerk;
(8) a county treasurer;
(9) a sheriff;
(10) a county surveyor;
(11) a county tax assessor-collector;
(12) a constable;
(13) a justice of the peace;
(14) a member of the board of trustees of an independent school district; and
(15) a county officer, not otherwise named by this section, whose office is created under the constitution or other law of this state.Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 149, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.
Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 37 (H.B. 328), Sec. 4, eff. May 19, 2009.
Acts 2013, 83rd Leg., R.S., Ch. 508 (S.B. 122), Sec. 1, eff. June 14, 2013.
Texas Law Provides Specific Ground for Removal
As listed in the definitions, the officials named above can be removed for any of the following reasons:
General Grounds for Removal
(a) An officer may be removed for:
(2) official misconduct; or
(3) intoxication on or off duty caused by drinking an alcoholic beverage.
(b) Intoxication is not a ground for removal if it appears at the trial that the intoxication was caused by drinking an alcoholic beverage on the direction and prescription of a licensed physician practicing in this state.Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 149, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.
Grounds: Failure to Give Bond
A county officer who is required by law to give an official bond may be removed under this subchapter if the officer:
(1) fails to execute the bond within the time prescribed by law; or
(2) does not give a new bond, or an additional bond or security, if required by law to do so.Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 149, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.
Texas Law Indicates How the Process Begins
Under Texas Law, and in Section 87 of the Local Government Code, the Texas Legislatures have outlined the process for anyone to file a petition. This is also the part, in conjunction with other parts of this code, where someone may consider consulting with a licensed attorney. For clarification, we are not attorneys, we do not claim to be attorneys; we are simply providing information to our reads in a manner they do not have to search for information.
Petition for Removal
(a) A proceeding for the removal of an officer is begun by filing a written petition for removal in a district court of the county in which the officer resides. However, a proceeding for the removal of a district attorney is begun by filing a written petition in a district court of:
(1) the county in which the attorney resides; or
(2) the county where the alleged cause of removal occurred, if that county is in the attorney’s judicial district.
(b) Any resident of this state who has lived for at least six months in the county in which the petition is to be filed and who is not currently under indictment in the county may file the petition. At least one of the parties who files the petition must swear to it at or before the filing.
(c) The petition must be addressed to the district judge of the court in which it is filed. The petition must set forth the grounds alleged for the removal of the officer in plain and intelligible language and must cite the time and place of the occurrence of each act alleged as a ground for removal with as much certainty as the nature of the case permits.Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 149, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.
A Couple of Our Other Reads
You may be interested in reading about a Hays County budget related to Constables.
Or you may find our story on distorted traffic enforcement by Hays County Constables, of interest.
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Categories: The Lone Star Review - State