Bosque County Judge
110 South Main, Room 100
P O Box 647
Meridian, TX 76665
Office: 254-435-2382 - Ext 6
Mrs. Cindy Vanlandingham, Court Collections & Judges Secretary
The County Judge is frequently the most visible official in county government. Often thought of as the county's chief executive officer, a County Judge has broad judicial and administrative powers, including serving as the presiding officer of the county's policy-making body, the Commissioners Court. Referred to as "chief justice" by early Texas constitutions, the current office of County Judge was established by the Texas Constitution of 1876.
County Judges are elected on a countywide basis. Originally, the term of office for this position was two years, but in 1954 the Texas Constitution was amended to increase the term of office to four years. Article V Sections 15-18 of the Texas Constitution contain the legal basis for the office of County Judge as we know it today:
There shall be established in each county in this state a County Court, which shall be a court of record; and there shall be elected in each county, by the qualified voters, a County Judge, who shall be well informed in the law of the state; shall be a conservator of the peace; and shall hold off for four years, and until his successor shall be elected and qualified...
Although they must be well informed in the law, there is no requirement for County Judges to have a formal legal education or a license to practice law. After election, however, County Judges are required to attain 30 hours of judicial education during their first term in office and 16 hours every year thereafter in order to remain up-to-date regarding new laws and procedures related to their judicial responsibilities. A Constitutional County Judge is exempt from the continuing judicial education requirement for any fiscal year for which the County Judge files an affidavit with the registrar stating that the County Judge does not perform judicial functions.
In most counties, the County Judge presides over the constitutional county court. While responsibilities vary from county to county, a County Judge may consider criminal, civil, probate, juvenile and mental competency matters and has appellate jurisdiction over matters arising from the justice courts. In some counties, county courts at law have been created with separate judges to relieve the County Judge of some or all of the judicial duties of the office.
The County Judge is the presiding officer of the Commissioners Court and is required by law to perform this function when present. In the County Judge's absence, any commissioner may preside over the court. It is incumbent upon the County Judge to carefully abide by statues that require meetings of governmental bodies be open to the public.
The Judge is also a voting member of the Commissioners Court and works with the other four members of the court to approve the county budget and exercise administrative authority over county government operations.
County Judges do not have autonomous authority to set the business of the Commissioners Court or decide what motions will be heard; the entire court makes these decisions.
A major responsibility of the Commissioners Court related to the setting of the county budget. The County Judge serves are the budget officer of the Commissioners Court. During budget development, the County Judge and the Commissioners consider the funding necessary for the other county offices to carry out their duties.
County Commissioners Courts are responsible for many other functions, including:
- supervising the control of the county courthouse, county building and facilities;
- determining county tax rates;
- filling vacancies in most elected and appointed positions;
- building and maintaining county roads and bridges;
- canvassing election returns; and
- letting contracts in the name of the county.
County Judges perform a wide range of other administrative duties. These responsibilities include conducting hearings for beer and wine applications, calling elections, posting elections notices and overseeing election recounts. The County Judge also serves as the county's emergency management director and has the authority to designate an emergency management coordinator to serve as an assistant for emergency management issues.
The County Judge also represents the County at ceremonial occasions and on various boards and committees such as regional council of governments.
The broad range of responsibilities of County Judge makes this office a very important one in county government.
From: Texas County Progress - Special Edition - Courthouse Primer