Texas is one of four states in which the administrative office of the courts has no responsibility for judicial education. In Texas, judicial education is administered by the Court of Criminal Appeals, pursuant to Texas Government Code Chapter 56 - Judicial and Court Personnel Training Fund, and Article IV of the Texas General Appropriations Act.
Chapter 56 establishes the Training Fund with the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts for the purpose of drawing warrants for the Court’s program and administrative expenditures. Chapter 56 also provides the following:
- Authorization for the Court of Criminal Appeals to adopt rules for training programs and training entities receiving grant funds, and also rules for monitoring financial and program performance. Accordingly, the Court of Criminal Appeals has created the Rules of Judicial Education and Grant Conditions which are further described below.
- No more than three percent (3%) of the funds appropriated for purposes of the Court’s administration of the program may be used, except when the legislature appropriates more money for that purpose. Currently, the General Appropriations Act allows “estimated appropriation” authority for the administrative allocation, which enables the Court to exceed the 3% maximum. (However, actual administration costs for the past three fiscal years, 2015-17, were 2.3% of the appropriations for those years on average, not including supplemental grant awards for training purposes from the administrative allocation.)
- Limitations on the allocation of training funds. Chapter 56 specifies that no more than one-third of the funds appropriated for any fiscal year shall be used for the continuing legal education of each of the following constituent types as required by the Court of Criminal Appeals under Section 74.025:
- Judges and court personnel of appellate courts, district courts, county courts at law, county courts performing judicial functions, full-time associate judges and masters appointed pursuant to Chapter 201, Family Code, and full-time masters, magistrates, referees, and associate judges appointed pursuant to Chapter 54.
- Judges and court personnel of justice courts.
- Judges and court personnel of municipal courts.
- Funds shall be granted to statewide professional associations of judges and other entities. Grantees of those funds must ensure that sufficient funds are available for each judge to meet the minimum educational requirements set by the Court of Criminal Appeals before any funds are awarded to a judge for education that exceeds those requirements.
- Funds shall be granted to statewide professional associations of prosecuting attorneys, criminal defense attorneys who regularly represent indigent defendants in criminal matters, and justices of the peace, and other entities, and also legal funds to statewide professional associations and other entities that provide innocence training programs related to defendants’ post-conviction claims of actual innocence to law enforcement officers, law students, and other participants.
- Education committees for each constituent type are assigned the responsibility for recommending educational requirements, course content, credit, and standards for the purposes of the grants awarded.
- The Court of Criminal Appeals may adopt rules relating to the education and administration of the training programs, and base grant awards on information relating to an entity’s program quality and financial performance. (See Rules of Judicial Education and Grant Conditions below.)
- The Court of Criminal Appeals shall monitor both financial and program performance of entities receiving a grant of funds.
- Entities receiving grant funds are prohibited from using such funds for costs not related to Court approved grant activities.
Article IV of the Texas General Appropriations Act specifies the amounts appropriated for the Court of Criminal Appeals and the Judicial and Court Personnel Training Fund. It also sets grant award limits for the training of prosecuting attorneys, criminal defense lawyers, constitutional county judges, public defenders, and training on actual innocence, and additional grant awards or contracts for specific training purposes.
Also addressed in Article IV are cost limits, unexpended balance carryover limits for the Court’s administration of the program, and certain requirements of the Court for reporting to the Legislative Budget Board and Office of the Governor. The entirety of Article IV may be viewed on the website of the Legislative Budget Board.
The Rules of Judicial Education and Grant Conditions were created by the Court of Criminal Appeals in accordance with Section 56.006 of the Government Code, and establish the following requirements:
- The number of course hours and education credits required each year for judges of all levels of courts.
- Judges are responsible to certify their attendance at each training event using a form approved by their education committee.
- The registrar receiving such a form is to make a record of attendance, and report to the committee any judge who has not earned the required number of course hours during the fiscal year.
- There should be an education committee communication sent to judges that have not earned the required number of course hours. If judges have not met those requirements or been granted a waiver, the committee is responsible for reporting those judges to the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.
- Statutorily mandated training for judges and prosecuting attorneys to be provided by entities receiving grant funds, and also training for board certified family law attorneys and criminal, county, and district attorneys on issues concerning sex offender characteristics in accordance with Senate Concurrent Resolution 16, issued May 24, 1995.
Grant Conditions were created to address the requirements of training entities for financial compliance, internal controls, standards of operation, allowances and expenditures, submissions, and procedures. They cover a broad range of areas and topics.
The Rules of Judicial Education and Grant Conditions can be viewed from the Court’s website at the following link: http://www.txcourts.gov/cca/judicial-court-personnel-training-fund/rules-conditions/
A current list of training entities (as of fiscal year 2018) appears below. This list and the grant amounts awarded to each entity, for the current and prior year, can also be viewed from the Court’s website at the following link:
List of Training Entities FY 2018
- Texas Association of Counties
- Texas Center for the Judiciary
- Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association
- Texas District and County Attorneys Association
- Texas District Court Alliance
- Texas Justice Court Training Center
- Texas Municipal Courts Education Center
- The Center for American and International Law