On March 29, 2021, a 2020 Cameron County Sheriff hopeful, John Chambers, has submitted a Writ of Certiorari to the United States Supreme Court to consider two Federal questions on his misdemeanor conviction(s) of fourteen (14) counts of Texas Penal Code 37.10, Tampering with Government Records
Initially, Chambers was found guilty of felonies, but his appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Thirteenth Judicial District of Texas (13th Court of Appeals) identified the “harm,” burden needed to uphold a felony conviction did not exist.
The case has taken various steps leading up to the most recent legal action by Chambers. There are opinions provided from the 13th Court of Appeals which have raised questions by Chambers. Those questions have lead to the submission of the Writ of Certiorari.
The two questions raised are claims of potential overreaching authority of the State of Texas which may create a Constitutional Violation of the Tampering with Government Records law, as applied to Chambers.
That is the claim being made by Chambers to the US Supreme Court.
The US Supreme Court generated Case 20-1372 for the review:
The first question raised by Chambers, is as follows:
“The Court of Appeals’ Analysis Goes Far Beyond a Fair Reading of the Tampering with Government Record Statue.”
In summary, Chambers claims the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) had no legal reason to request records for Reserve Peace Officers. Specifically, Chambers believes TCOLE overstepped its legal authority when it required Chambers to present firearm proficiency scores for the Reserve Officers under his control when he was the Indian Lake Police Chief.
He claims, Reserve Officers are not bound by TCOLE oversight and he had no legal reason to create the firearms records for the Reserve Officers; as requested by TCOLE.
The petition goes into the argument of why Chambers believes the Reserve Officers appointed by the Town of Indian Lake are not under TCOLE jurisdiction; which creates a needless record requirement by TCOLE.
In the same petition, Chambers admits the Reserve Officers are certified by TCOLE, but contends that “employ,” is different than “appoint.”
The second question raised by Chambers is as follows:
“The Court of Appeals’ Interpretation of the Section 37.10(f) Defense Impermissibly Shifts the Burden of Proof on the Defense Issue to the Defendant.”
In this question, the concern raised has the same claims outlined above; however, it focus on the burden to prove by the prosecution. The question lays framework where the prosecution may be legally required to identify the purposes for the record and the need for the same.
Essentially, because Chambers raised the issue, the burden shifts from Chambers to the prosecution to argue against the defense raised by Chambers.
The point Chambers has made and continues to make is related to the terms “employ,” and “appoint.” He also has raised the difference between the Texas Occupational Code and the Local Government Code; as it relates to Reserve Officers. We have provided our opinion on this concern in the past.
The full brief submitted by Chambers can be read HERE. We will be interested in the decision of the US Supreme Court.