Under legislation introduced by Rep. Richard Raymond (D-Laredo), a Texas Supreme Court justice would be required to recuse himself or herself from any case in which the justice has accepted political contributions from certain persons related to the case.
HB 129 would trigger mandatory recusal if during the preceding four years the justice accepted contributions totaling $2,500 or more from:
1. a party to the case;
2. an attorney of record in the case;
3. the law firm of an attorney of record in the case;
4. the managing agent of a party to the case;
5. a member of the board of directors of a party to the case; or
6. a general purpose PAC established or administered by a party to the case.
The bill also treats a political contribution made by a person to a general purpose PAC that makes a contribution to a justice as if the person directly made the contribution. For purposes of the $2,500 threshold, the lesser of the total amount of contributions made by the person to the PAC or made by the PAC to the justice controls.
Finally, the bill requires any person who files a motion, brief, or pleading with the Court to disclose all political contributions made by the person to justices of the Court in the preceding four years. The person must also disclose contributions made by anyone affiliated with the person who fits into the above categories or those made by a general-purpose PAC to whom a party or person affiliated with the party made a contribution during the period.
Recusal may be waived if each party in opposition to the party who made the contribution agrees to the waiver. The bill also applies to contributions made to judges of the Court of Criminal Appeals.