One of the great aspects of being an elected judge in Texas is that there are no time clocks involved in the job; Texas jurists work as much or as little as they need to. And if voters don’t like how much they work, there’s always an election in four or six years to deal with that problem.
But a bill filed Jan. 11 in the Texas Legislature may change all that, by requiring judges to show up in the courthouses in which they work. H.B. 470 would amend the Texas Government Code to require that “elected officers” — including judges who sit on the Texas Supreme Court, Court of Criminal Appeals, intermediate appellate courts and district courts — to “be physically present on a regular basis at a location at which official business of the jurisdiction served by the officer is ordinarily conducted.”
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. James White, R-Woodville, says he didn’t especially have judges in mind when he wrote the bill. Rather, he wanted to solve a problem that popped up regarding an elected official who lost a race and then allegedly decided to show up “sparingly.”
“We want to make sure that the people are getting what they paid for,” White says of the intentions behind the bill. As for how to enforce this proposed law, White says “That’s something we’re working through. . . . [W]e don’t want this to become a free-for-all to get people out of office and bypass the electoral process.”
In the meantime, may we suggest a time clock or, say, Texas Lawyer reporters?
--- John Council