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Election information: Proposition 9

Oct. 17, 2013 at 5:17 a.m.


Editor's Note: The Advocate is offering information about the upcoming constitutional amendment election Nov. 5. This feature, provided by the League of Women Voters, will look at the pros and cons of each of the nine amendments on the ballot. This is a look at Proposition 9.

Official ballot language

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 Contact.

Explanation

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.

Arguments for

• 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.

Arguments against

• 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.

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