Case Summaries

Each week, TDCAA staff members summarize the most important cases from Texas and federal criminal courts and provide insightful commentary on how those cases could impact the criminal justice system as well as a link to the opinions. Find a library of previous Weekly Case Summaries here.


October 27, 2023

Texas Attorney General Opinions

KP-0448                                                               10/23/23


Is a district attorney’s office located in a stand-alone building with no courts or court offices considered a building that houses the operations of a district, county, or justice court for the purposes of an expenditure from the courthouse security fund?


The courthouse security fund is a fund that “may be used only for security personnel, services, and items related to buildings that house the operations of district, county, or justice courts” under Code of Criminal Procedure Art. 102.017(b). This fund can include the security of individuals who act in the role of adjudicator. A district attorney’s role is not that of adjudicator but rather is primarily that of prosecutor. If a building housing the district attorney’s office does not also house courts or individuals “who engage in activities of an adjudicatory nature, a court would likely conclude it does not house the operations of a district, county, or justice court.” Read Opinion.


This conclusion is straightforward and unremarkable but for the faux outrage of the dicta in footnote 2 in which the Attorney General calls the Court of Criminal Appeals’s Stephens opinion “egregiously incorrect” for striking down legislative attempts to unconstitutionally grant his office the authority to independently prosecute certain crimes. See State v. Stephens, 663 S.W.3d 45 (Tex. Crim. App. 2022), reh’g denied, 664 S.W.3d 293 (Tex. Crim. App. 2022). The decisions in Stephens have no relevance to the resolution of the question underpinning this opinion, but if this footnoted tantrum is any indication, you should expect to hear more about it during the 2024 GOP primary campaign season.

KP-0449                                                               10/23/23


Can a county commissioners court cede authority to the county judge to hire a county commissioner’s spouse for a position that reports directly to the county judge?


A county commissioners court may cede authority to the county judge to hire and employ individuals. But “a court would likely conclude that a county judge who is delegated the commissioners court’s implied authority to employ persons is prohibited by the anti-nepotism provision in Government Code §573.041 from appointing the spouse of a county commissioner to a paid county position.” Furthermore, a public official involved in the process may be committing a misdemeanor count of official misconduct. Read Opinion.

TDCAA is pleased to offer these unique case summaries from the U.S. Supreme Court, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the Texas Supreme Court, the Texas Courts of Appeals and the Texas Attorney General. In addition to the basic summaries, each case will have a link to the full text opinion and will offer exclusive prosecutor commentary explaining how the case may impact you as a prosecutor. The case summaries are for the benefit of prosecutors, their staff members, and members of the law enforcement community. These summaries are NOT a source of legal advice for citizens. The commentaries expressed in these case summaries are not official statements by TDCAA and do not represent the opinions of TDCAA, its staff, or any member of the association. Please email comments, problems, or questions to Joe Hooker.