In its final report and recommendations to the 84th Legislature, the House Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committee urges the Legislature to consider extending the six-year term of office for an appellate justice to eight years. In most states, appellate judges serve for a minimum of 8 years, which tends to enhance the stability of the judiciary over time. In the past, TCJL has supported the concept of extending judicial tenure as a way to mitigate the negative effects of campaign money and partisanship on the judiciary.
With respect to judicial qualifications, the committee recommended that a candidate for any state judicial bench should have been a member of the State Bar of Texas continuously for at least 10 years to be eligible to run. For appellate benches, the candidate should not have been sanctioned for professional conduct, had his or her license suspended for a violation of the disciplinary rules, or at any point been subject to disbarment. TCJL testified in favor of these changes at the interim committee hearing.
The chair of the committee, Rep. Tryon Lewis (R-Odessa), did not run for re-election in 2014. We are deeply grateful to Judge Lewis for his tireless and dedicated commitment to public service, and we wish all the best in his return to private life. We also thank the members of the committee for their work on the interim report and for their interest in preserving a strong and balanced judicial system.