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22

New Court Appointment Procedures and Reporting

Requirements Enacted by the 84

th

Legislature –

Senate Bill 1876 and Senate Bill 1369

By Mena Ramon

T

he 84

th

Texas Legislature passed two bills providing new

procedures and reporting requirements for court appointments.

Senate Bill 1876

1

enacted new procedures for courts to

follow when appointing attorneys ad litem, guardians ad

litem, guardians and mediators. Senate Bill 1369

2

added

new reporting requirements regarding the appointment and payment of

persons covered under Senate Bill 1876 and competency evaluators.

On September 21, 2015, Representative Harold V. Dutton, Jr., filed

a request for an attorney general opinion (RQ-0060-KP)

3

regarding

the constitutionality of SB 1876. Chairman Dutton asks whether the

requirements of the Act violate the doctrine of separation of powers because it deprives judges of

their discretion in making court appointments and “improperly interferes with how a court manages

its docket” and whether it is unconstitutionally vague because it requires judges to add persons to

their appointment lists who are “qualified” but does not provide the standards a judge should use

to determine whether a person is qualified. This article is intended to provide general information

about the law and suggestions for how to comply. It does not address the merits of the arguments

posed in Chairman Dutton’s attorney general opinion request.

Senate Bill 1876 - Court

Appointment Procedures

SB 1876 added Chapter 37 to

the Government Code effective

September 1, 2015. Chapter 37

provides new procedures for the

appointment of attorneys ad litem,

guardians ad litem, mediators

and guardians in counties with a

population of 25,000 or more. It

applies to any court created by the

Texas Constitution or by statute or

that is authorized by statute.

4

The most significant change to

practices in effect before September

1, 2015, is the requirement that a

court, when required to appoint an

attorney ad litem, guardian ad litem

or guardian, appoint the person

whose name appears first on a list to be maintained by the court pursuant to Government Code Sec.

37.003.

5

Courts are also required to follow this appointment process when appointing mediators

in cases when the parties cannot agree on one.

6

Once a person from one of the lists is appointed,

The new law

provides no

guidance on how

to determine

if a person is

“qualified to

serve.”