Office of House Bill AnalysisS.J.R. 3
By: Duncan
Judicial Affairs


Under current law, Texas appellate justices and judges are elected in
partisan elections.  These candidates often have to raise money for
campaigns from political parties and the lawyers who practice before them.
The appellate justices and judges are not required to recuse themselves
from cases involving attorneys or litigants who make large contributions to
such campaigns, which may lead to the appearance of impropriety. As
proposed, Senate Joint Resolution 3 requires the submission to the voters
of a constitutional amendment permitting the appointment of appellate
justices and judges by the governor and the retention or rejection of the
appellate justices and judges by a nonpartisan election. 


It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that this resolution
does not expressly delegate any additional rulemaking authority to a state
officer, department, agency, or institution. 


Senate Joint Resolution 3 amends the Texas Constitution to provide that on
appointment by the governor to a vacancy, a chief justice, justice,
presiding judge, or judge of the supreme court, court of criminal appeals,
or court of appeals (appellate justices and judges) serves an initial term
that ends on January 1 of the third odd-numbered year that occurs after
appellate justices and judges take the oath of office.  The resolution
requires that appellate justices and judges, following the appointed term,
be subject in the manner provided by law to retention or rejection on a
nonpartisan ballot and to hold their offices for six years on each
successive retention by the voters.   

The resolution requires that vacancies in the office of judge of a district
court be filled until the next succeeding general election.  The resolution
specifies that a temporary provision  expiring on January 1, 2010 applies
to this constitutional amendment for gubernatorial appointment to fill
vacancies in the offices of appellate justices and judges and for
nonpartisan retention elections for those justices and judges. 


This proposed constitutional amendment shall be submitted to the voters at
an election to be held  
November 6, 2001.  If the voters approve the amendment, S.J.R. 3 takes
effect January 1, 2002.