Texas Expanded Judicial Sanctions Amendment, Proposition 9 (2013)

From Ballotpedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Proposition 9
Flag of Texas.png
Click here for the latest news on U.S. ballot measures
Quick stats
Type:Constitutional amendment
Constitution:Texas Constitution
Referred by:Texas State Legislature
Topic:State judiciary
Status:Approved Approveda
The Texas Expanded Judicial Sanctions Amendment, Proposition 9, was on the November 5, 2013 ballot in Texas as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. It was approved.

The measure expanded the types of sanctions that could be assessed against a judge or justice following a formal proceeding instituted by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct. The measure was sponsored in the legislature by Sen. Joan Hoffman (R-17) as Senate Joint Resolution 42.[1] SB 209 was the enabling legislation for SJR 42.[2]

Election results

See also: 2013 ballot measure election results

Below are the official election results:

Texas Proposition 9
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 925,509 84.65%
No167,82515.34%
These results are from the Texas Secretary of State.

Background

According to the Texas League of Women Voters:[3]

The State Commission on Judicial Conduct (SCJC) was created in 1965, through a constitutional amendment, to investigate allegations of judicial misconduct or disability and to discipline judges. The SCJC is responsible for ensuring that Texas judges comply with standards of conduct established in the Texas Constitution and by the Texas Supreme Court. Currently, after a formal disciplinary proceeding, the SCJC may issue an order of public censure or recommend removal or retirement of the judge/justice. During its review of the SCJC, the Sunset Advisory Commission recommended that the SCJC be authorized to use its full range of disciplinary actions following a formal proceeding. If this proposed amendment passes, the SCJC may at its discretion issue a private or public admonition, warning, reprimand, or requirement that the person obtain additional training or education, as well as the censure or formal recommendations of resignation or retirement.[3]

[4]

Texas Secretary of State, John Steen selected the order of the nine ballot measures for 2013 at random. The nine approved amendments were added to the Texas Constitution, the longest state constitution in the country. As of 2011, the state legislature has put 653 amendments before voters since 1876, of which 474 were passed.[5] LWV-Texas Education Fund Chair Linda Krefting, had this to say about the nine constitutional amendments: "The issues at stake affect all Texans now and in the future, from property tax exemptions to funding the water state plan. Given the significance of the issues and relative permanence of constitutional amendments, voters need to understand each of the propositions to cast an informed vote."[6]

Enabling legislation

Proposition 9 was placed on the ballot via SJR 42. However, SB 209 was the enabling legislation for SJR 42.[7] Enabling legislation is a bill passed into law by the Texas Legislature that authorizes an exemption for prior contracts or bids.[8] SB 209 will go into effect January 1, 2014, as Prop 9 was approved by voters. SB 209 amended Government Code provisions in the constitution relating to the functions and operations of the State Commission on Judicial Conduct. This amendment created an avenue by which the stipulations laid out in Prop 9 can be implemented[9] Read more about enabling legislation here.

Text of measure

The ballot was printed to permit voting for or against the proposition:[10]

The constitutional amendment relating to expanding the types of sanctions that may be assessed against a judge or justice following a formal proceeding instituted by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.

[4]

Constitutional changes

Proposition 9 would amended Article V, Section 1-a(8) of the Texas Constitution to read:

SECTION 1. Subdivision (8), Section 1-a, Article V, Texas Constitution, is amended as follows:

(8) After such investigation as it deems necessary, the Commission may in its discretion issue a private or public admonition, warning, reprimand, or requirement that the person obtain additional training or education, or if the Commission determines that the situation merits such action, it may institute formal proceedings and order a formal hearing to be held before it concerning [the public censure, removal, or retirement of] a person holding an office or position specified in Subsection (6) of this Section, or it may in its discretion request the Supreme Court to appoint an active or retired District Judge or Justice of a Court of Appeals, or retired Judge or Justice of the Court of Criminal Appeals or the Supreme Court, as a Master to hear and take evidence in the [any such] matter, and to report thereon to the Commission. The Master shall have all the power of a District Judge in the enforcement of orders pertaining to witnesses, evidence, and procedure. If, after formal hearing, or after considering the record and report of a Master, the Commission finds good cause therefor, it shall issue an order of public admonition, warning, reprimand, censure, or requirement that the person holding an office or position specified in Subsection (6) of this Section obtain additional training or education, or it shall recommend to review tribunal the removal or retirement, as the case may be, of the person [in question holding an office or position specified in Subsection (6) of this Section] and shall thereupon file with the tribunal the entire record before the Commission.

Fiscal impact statement

According to the fiscal note for SJR 42, which was released on May 1, 2013, "No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated, other than the cost of publication. The cost to the state for publication of the resolution is $108,921. No significant fiscal implication to units of local government is anticipated."[11] According to the fiscal note for SB 209 - the enabling legislation - which was released on May 20, 2013, "No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated. No significant fiscal implication to units of local government is anticipated."[12]

Support

The measure was sponsored by Sens. Joan Hoffman, Robert Nichols (R-3) and Harold Dutton, Jr. (D-142).[1]

Arguments

The arguments presented in favor of Prop 9 in the state's official voter guide were constructed by the Texas Legislative Council. The arguments featured were based on comments made about the amendment during the legislative process and generally summarized the main arguments supporting the amendment. They read as follows:[13][13]

  • "The Texas Constitution authorizes the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, following an investigation of a complaint filed against a judge or justice, to issue a private or public admonition, warning, reprimand, or requirement that the judge or justice obtain additional training. The commission's procedural rules describe such sanctions, which the commission generally considers in closed informal proceedings, as remedial in nature and meant to deter similar misconduct in the future. However, if the complaint alleges egregious misconduct and the commission institutes formal proceedings and orders a public hearing after its investigation of the complaint, the constitution currently limits the scope of such an open formal proceeding to consideration of matters concerning the more punitive measures of public censure, removal, or retirement of the judge or justice. This limitation on the range of sanctions available to the commission following a formal proceeding creates a disincentive to pursue cases of public importance in an open formal setting. In some instances, it may be appropriate for the commission to hear a case in an open formal proceeding because the facts warrant an extensive investigation or because the case is important to the public, but the commission may choose to hear the case in a closed proceeding to avoid having to dismiss the case if the judge's or justice's conduct does not warrant censure, removal, or retirement. The proposed amendment would allow the commission to sues its full range of sanctions following formal proceedings, remove a disincentive to the conduct of open proceedings, and better serve the commission in the administration of justice."[13]

According to the League of Women Voters of Texas, which offered both support and opposition arguments for the measure, arguments in support of the measure included:[3]

  • "Proposition 9 would lead to greater public accountability for judges and justices; continue to promote public confidence in the integrity, independence, competence, and impartiality of the judiciary, and encourage judges to maintain high standards of conduct both on and off the bench."[3]

Other arguments included:

  • Empower Texans supported Proposition 9. They said, "Makes available a broader array of choices for punishing judges who act inappropriately."[14]

Opposition

Texas Constitution
Seal of Texas.svg.png
Preamble
Articles
12
3 (1-43)3 (44-49)3 (50-67)
4567891011121314151617

According to the Texas Legislative Council's Official Voter Guide, which was compiled by the Texas Legislative Council:[13]

  • "No comments opposing the proposed amendment were made during the House and Senate committee hearings or during debate on the amendment in the House and Senate chambers. A review of other sources also did not reveal any apparent opposition to the amendment."[13]

According to the League of Women Voters of Texas, which offered both support and opposition arguments for the measure, arguments in opposition to the measure included:[3]

  • "Stronger measures than those provided by Proposition 9 are needed to reinforce the SCJC's authority to discipline judges and hold them accountable for judicial misconduct."[3]

Media editorial positions

See also: Endorsements of Texas ballot measures, 2013

Support

  • The Austin Chronicle said, "Would expand the types of sanctions that may be assessed against a judge or justice following a formal proceeding instituted by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct. This would remove a disincentive to the conduct of open proceedings."[15]
  • The Dallas Morning News said, "This proposition could be labeled the “Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Presiding Judge Sharon Keller Disciplinary Case Memorial Amendment.”... The state constitution and code should speak the same language. Voters should approve this proposition."[16]
  • Houston Chronicle said, "This proposal authorizes the State Commission on Judicial Conduct to use an additional disciplinary action following a formal proceeding."[17]
  • The San Antonio Express News said that it is "for" Prop 9. This publication endorsed all nine of the proposed constitutional amendments.[18]
  • Fort Worth Star-Telegram said, "Proposition 9 would allow lesser penalties, including public admonition, warning, reprimand or a requirement for further training or education. The Star-Telegram Editorial Board recommends votes for propositions 3, 7 and 9."[19]
  • The Burnt Orange Report endorsed Prop 9, saying, "Supporters of the amendment argue that the current limit of sanctions may give the commission fewer reasons to pursue certain cases. A broader array of sanctions against judges and justices seems like a good thing. After all, if they're doing their jobs correctly, they're not going to be sanctioned, right? We unanimously endorse a vote FOR Proposition 9 in the November 2013 constitutional amendment elections."[20]

Path to the ballot

See also: Amending the Texas Constitution

A 2/3rds vote in both chambers of the Texas State Legislature is required to refer an amendment to the ballot. Texas is one of sixteen states that requires this. Since the bill is a joint resolution, it does not require the governor's signature before being placed on the ballot.

The Texas House of Representatives passed the amendment on May 6, 2013, with a vote of 142 to 0. The Texas State Senate then passed the amendment on May 21, 2013, with a vote of 31 to 0.[21]

Texas Expanded Judicial Sanctions Amendment, HJR 133 House Vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 142 100%
No00%
Texas Expanded Judicial Sanctions Amendment, HJR 133 Senate Vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 31 100%
No00%

See also

BallotpediaAvatar bigger.png
Suggest a link

External links

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 OpenStates.org, "SJR 42: Texas Senate Joint Resolution - Proposing a constitutional amendment relating to expanding the types of sanctions that may be assessed against a judge or justice following a formal proceeding instituted by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct," accessed June 2, 2013
  2. North Texas Citizens Lobby, "9 Proposed Amendments – Put Through the Constitutional Test," accessed November 1, 2013
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 The League of Women Voters of Texas, "Voter Information," accessed October 7, 2013
  4. 4.0 4.1 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  5. Legislative Reference Library of Texas, "Constitutional Amendments," accessed September 26, 2013
  6. The Gilmer Mirror Online, "Texas Voters Will Decide: Whether to Approve Property Tax Exemptions Related to Military Service," September 5, 2013
  7. North Texas Citizens Lobby, "9 Proposed Amendments – Put Through the Constitutional Test," accessed November 1, 2013
  8. Texas Secretary of State, "Texas Administrative Code: Title 34, Part 1, Chapter 3, Subchapter O," accessed October 25, 2013
  9. Texas Legislature Online, "Text, SB 209," accessed November 1, 2013
  10. Texas State Legislature, "H.J.R. No. 133," accessed May 30, 2013
  11. Texas Legislature Online, "FISCAL NOTE, 83RD LEGISLATIVE REGULAR SESSION," May 1, 2013
  12. Texas Legislature Online, "FISCAL NOTE, 83RD LEGISLATIVE REGULAR SESSION," May 20, 2013
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 Texas Legislative Council's Official Voter Guide, "Amendment No. 9 (SJR 42)," accessed October 7, 2013
  14. Empower Texans, "Recommendations: Texas Constitutional Amendments," October 17, 2013
  15. The Austin Chronicle, "'Chronicle' Endorsements," October 18, 2013
  16. The Dallas Morning News, "Editorial: We recommend passage of Prop. 9," October 6, 2013
  17. Houston Chronicle, "Our take on the proposed constitutional amendments," October 15, 2013
  18. San Antonio Express News, "Vote early in amendment election," October 18, 2013
  19. Fort Worth Star-Telegram, "Constitutional changes can be open to argument," October 16, 2013
  20. Burnt Orange Report, "Burnt Orange Report Endorses A Vote FOR Statewide Proposition 9," October 17, 2013
  21. Texas House of Representatives, "History of House Joint Resolution 133," accessed September 12, 2013