This 2019 judicial financial report for Texas confirms what LIT has witnessed and reported in 2019 and that’s only after looking at ONE page, the SCJC page # 40. The State of Texas Judiciary is in a right state indeed.
2019 ended on a really really shocking note when the SCJC deleted 11 judge sanctions from the website – permanently, and they refuse to comment on their unlawful action. That just shows how corrupt Texas really is in 2020. It has to change.
Follow that up with Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht pushing for a very large increase in the salary payments and structure of these Judges and which was rapidly pushed through by lawmakers while homeowners were battling to rebuild after Hurricane Harvey, they are truly a law unto themselves.
The figures below show that the Texas Judiciary is taking the stance that nearly all Texans in State courts who complain about their judges are liars. However, why is that in the last 5 years, the complaints have nearly doubled?
The only people you can blame are those at the executive level, and that starts with Chief Justice Nathan Hecht, who has a checkered past himself. That is why we are endorsing Judge Jerry Zimmerer in 2020 and “urge” Texans to do the same.
State Commission on Judicial Conduct
The State Commission on Judicial Conduct reviews and decides every allegation of misconduct made against a Texas judge.
The State Commission on Judicial Conduct was created in 1965 by an amendment to Article V of the Texas Constitution. The Commission is the independent judicial branch agency responsible for investigating allegations of judicial misconduct or permanent disability, and for disciplining judges.
The Commission has fourteen authorized staff positions consisting of:
the Executive Director, the Deputy Director, the Deputy General Counsel, three staff attorneys, the Chief Investigator, three investigators, a staff services officer, and two administrative assistants.
The Commission’s jurisdiction includes all sitting Texas judges, including municipal judges, justices of the peace, criminal magistrates, county judges, county courts-at-law judges, statutory probate judges, district judges, appellate judges, masters, associate judges, referees, and retired and former judges who consent to sit by assignment and judges pro tempore.
The Commission has no jurisdiction over federal judges and magistrates, administrative hearing officers for state agencies or the State Office of Administrative Hearings, or private mediators or arbitrators.
Although judicial candidates are required to comply with the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct, the Commission does not have the authority to sanction anyone who was not a sitting judge at the time an offense occurred.
Therefore, violations of the canons by candidates for judicial office who were not judges at the time of the alleged misconduct are subject to review and appropriate action by other authorities such as the State Bar, the Attorney General, the Secretary of State, or the local District Attorney.
In FY19, according to OCA records, 4,246 judges were under the jurisdiction of the commission. During FY19, the SCJC:
Opened 1,849 complaints/cases.
That’s just shy of one complaint for every 2 judges on the bench in the State of Texas. Wow.
Resolved 69 cases through public sanction, private sanction, orders of additional education or a combination of a sanction with an order of additional education.
That means the Judiciary took action on less than 4% of complaints.
Disposed of 4 cases through voluntary agreements to resign in lieu of disciplinary action.
4 Judges desperately wanted to keep their pensions and benefits and resigned. More taxpayer money flying out the court doors to unethical judges.
Dismissed 1,694 cases as follows:
882 were determined to not contain any allegations which, if true, would violate the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct;
687 were dismissed after investigation;
31 were dismissed with letters of caution;
5 were dismissed based on the judges’ corrective action;
and 16 were dismissed as moot.
Resolved 593 cases after a preliminary investigation and 219 after a full investigation (requiring a response from the Judge.
That’s a lot of complaints from people who are citizens or lawyers who are in effect being called untruthful in their complaints, around 92% of complainants to be precise, based on the figures quoted herein.
House Bill 2384 boosts pay for Texas judges, prosecutors
Originally Published; August 23, 2019
A bill passed by Texas during the 86th Legislative Session adds about $34 million to the state’s budget over the next two years to boost the salaries of many judicial positions — some by as much as 10 percent.
House Bill 2384 outlines salaries and retirement benefits of judges, justices and certain prosecutors.
Sponsors of the bill were Rep. Jeff Leach, Rep. Todd Hunter, Rep. Dan Flynn, Rep. Travis Clardy, Sen. Joan Huffman, Sen. Juan Hinojosa and Sen. Judith Zaffirin.
The bill allows for a tiered pay increase with 10 percent at four years of service, another at eight years and then 12 years. It boosts the base pay for district court judges and provides for certain retirement benefits for judges and prosecutors.
A report from the Judicial Compensation Commission (JCC) found Texas lagged behind five states closest to Texas in population for judicial compensation.
The highest pay for Texas district judges was more than 20 percent lower than the average salary of the other states, whose average salary was $190,000.
With more than 60 percent of district court judges age 55 or older, the commission said it was imperative to set into motion a plan to set salaries at adequate levels to attract and retain quality judges and justices.
“With the reality that a large percentage of judges and justices may be retiring in the near future, it is more important than ever to ensure that compensation is set at a level adequate to recruit the future generation of judges and justices to the bench,” the JCC report states.
The state-provided salary of Texas district court judges is nearly 32 percent lower than the average salary of an experienced lawyer. More than half of Texas judges have 30-plus years of experience as a licensed attorney.
Data from the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) for its Texas Wages and Employment Projections showed in 2017 that the statewide average salary for an experienced lawyer was $184,156 and the average pay for all lawyers in the state was $145,799.
Section 659.012 of the bill sets the base pay for district court judges to $140,000 — up from $125,000.
In the bill, longevity pay begins at 12 years of service rather than 16 years.
Prior to this year, judges’ pay had only seen two increases since 2000 — in 2005 and 2013.
The JCC recommended regular, steady increases of judicial salaries to offset the effects of inflation.
“The Commission concludes that regular adjustments in compensation are necessary and appropriate in order to attract the most highly qualified individuals, from a diversity of life and professional experiences, to serve in the judiciary without unreasonable economic hardship and with judicial independence unaffected by financial concerns,” the 2018 report stated.
A concern with the bill was that judge’s pay is linked to legislator’s pension benefits.
A tweak by Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston), to Jeff Leach’s (R-Plano) bill trimmed the cost from $60 million to $31.5 million over the next two years to give increases to judges and prosecutors without increasing legislator pensions.
The bill provides for pay raises for prosecutors in rural counties in which the county cannot provide a pay supplement.
The bill passed June 14, was signed by Gov. Greg Abbott and is set to become effective Sept. 1.