“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
Lubbock lawyers are engaged in an epic five-year struggle to enter the Lubbock County Courthouse with the same dignity enjoyed by other officers of the court. Along the way, many valuable lessons have been learned that might be of benefit to those in other counties who seek fair access to the halls of justice.
The equipment used to protect Texas courthouse visitors varies widely from county to county, ranging from no electronic security (“Sometimes we have a deputy with a gun”) to systems rivaling safety measures at international airports. There are courthouses with inoperable metal detectors offering make-believe electronic security. Others employ only hand-held electronic wands. Several smaller counties bring in portable security devices on “court days.” A few counties refuse to disclose security policies.1
The hodgepodge of courthouse security equipment is complicated further by varying degrees of discriminatory screening policies across the state.2 A few counties require all who enter the courthouse to submit to electronic screening, but most have systems that exempt courthouse employees from screening. Some counties with electronic security systems allow bypass badges with background checks for private lawyers, while other badge programs do not require background checks. Still others require only a bar card to be waived through metal detectors.3 In many Texas county seats, prosecutors and judges are welcomed into the courthouse without scrutiny, but private lawyers are subjected to unnecessary, demeaning, and sometimes comical screening procedures.4
This disparate treatment of the private bar is not right, nor is it fair. It is just plain stupid. As officers of the court, private lawyers should be on the same security level as their brethren of the bar. If private lawyers are deemed a security risk, that’s fine, but screening rules governing lawyers should also govern judges, prosecutors, bailiffs, and court reporters. All officers of the court should either be required to submit to screening or all should be exempt from screening, either with or without bypass privileges. Texas law authorizes a political remedy for the problem, but many Texas county leaders are of the opinion private attorneys should not enjoy security status on the same level as prosecutors and judges. This unfortunate position may be influenced by haunting memories of the Tarrant County Courthouse tragedy of 1992.
The Tarrant County Courthouse Tragedy of 1992
On July 1, 1992, George Lott—a former attorney—entered the Tarrant County Courthouse with a nine-millimeter semiautomatic pistol and brutally murdered two innocent lawyers, Assistant District Attorney Chris Marshall and John Edwards. Three others were wounded: Judge John G. Hill, Judge Clyde Ashworth, and Assistant District Attorney Steven Conder.5 Lott was upset about his pending child custody case and allegations of child molestation by his ex-wife.6 No electronic security was in place at the courthouse to detect the firearm. The shooting was reportedly the sixth violent courthouse incident in the nation that year.7 He represented himself at his trial and refused to appeal his death sentence. Lott was executed September 20, 1994.8
The Courthouse Security Fund and Government Code § 291.010
In response to the Tarrant County tragedy, the Texas Legislature in 1993 established the Courthouse Security Fund (“the Fund”), creating a means to provide modern security measures in courthouses statewide.9 The law mandates the collection of a fee as court costs from defendants convicted of crimes.10 The law requires similar fees in civil cases, collected at the time of filing a case in a county court, county court-at-law, or district court.11
Texas law vests each county commissioners court with the duty to fund courthouse security.12 A budget that fails to provide essential funding for security is not a reasonable budget.13 A few examples: For fiscal 2013 in Harris County, population of 4.3 million, commissioners budgeted $2.2 million for courthouse security, receiving $1.6 million from fees mandated by the Courthouse Security Fund.14 Lubbock County, population of 289,324, budgeted $123,914 while receiving $120,500 from the Fund.15 Coryell County, population of 76,192, budgeted $25,992 and received $21,000 from the Fund.16
An examination of these budget statistics clearly shows the clients of Texas lawyers pay for courthouse security through court costs mandated by the Fund. Through their lawyers, Harris County litigants funded about 72 per cent of the cost of courthouse security. In Coryell County, it was about 80 per cent. In Lubbock County, it was 97.25 percent. Yet, in Lubbock County, the same lawyers who write the checks that pay for all but a fraction of the courthouse security budget are abused by the system they help fund.
While the law gives county commissioners the authority to fund courthouse security, Government Code § 291.003 gives the sheriff control of the courthouse, empowering the sheriff to keep order and preserve property.17 The sheriff has the ministerial duty to maintain the “peace and decorum of the courthouse.”18 Thus, the law provides a sort of checks-and-balances approach to courthouse security. But depending on the political climate of any given jurisdiction, it is usually the sheriff who calls the shots on who slides by screening at the front door of the courthouse.
With that political reality in mind, Local Government Code § 291.010 was enacted in 1999, giving county commissioners in Harris County the discretion to “authorize the issuance of an identification card to individuals permitting entrance into [the courthouse] without passing through the security services . . .”19 In September 2011, the Texas Legislature revised Local Government Code § 291.010, giving all county commissioners across the state the same authority as Harris County to authorize—and charge a fee for—bypass badges.20
Thus, Texas law allows for courthouse security bypass ID cards by a vote of county commissioners, even where the local sheriff opposes such access.
Today, bar card passes and security bypass badge programs for frequent courthouse visitors are ubiquitous. Harris County has enjoyed such a program for decades. Other large counties with similar programs approved by local commissioners include Bell, Bexar, Brazos, Fort Bend, Jefferson, Montgomery, Tarrant, and Victoria. In addition, large counties with similar programs authorized by the local sheriff are Collin, Hays, Hidalgo, Hunt, Nueces, Parker, Potter, Randall, Tom Green, Travis, and Williamson.
Alas, many counties still treat the private bar as a threat to security at the local courthouse. The George Lott tragedy 23 years ago in Fort Worth undoubtedly spurred the implementation of modern electronic security in Texas courthouses, but the incident also cast private attorneys in a sinister light, perhaps hampering lawyers in certain counties in their efforts for reasonable courthouse access.
The Lubbock Experience
In May 2010, Lubbock County officials budgeted monies from the Courthouse Security Fund to create a security system utilizing conveyor-belt scanners and metal detectors at the two main entrances of the building, and the other entrances to the courthouse were closed to the public. Lubbock County Sheriff Kelly Rowe created a screening policy that allowed county employees and other designated classes of courthouse visitors to bypass the security system. The sheriff did not include private attorneys among courthouse visitors allowed to bypass security devices.21
Consequently, many who seek to enter the Lubbock County Courthouse are treated as second-class citizens, including private lawyers. We join the queue each morning at the east and west entrances and shuffle in with our clients and other poor souls seeking justice. We empty our pockets of nickels and dimes, shove cell phones and important privileged client files into a bin bumped through a conveyor-belt scanner, and trudge through the metal detector. Those of us who suffer this indignity on a regular basis usually avoid being required to partially disrobe or undergo the dreaded wanding procedure when the buzzer rudely announces an artificial hip or a forgotten set of car keys. But not always. Depending on the mood of the deputies stationed at the front doors, even an iconic pillar of the legal community (a gentleman who calls the structure erected in 1950 “the new courthouse”) might be made to remove his belt or return his fingernail clippers to his car.
Meanwhile, we watch in awe as the privileged flash shiny plastic badges and scurry through the electronic maze, unscathed. All officers of the court (except private lawyers) are given free passage to the halls of justice—judges, court reporters, bailiffs, and clerks. Prosecutors have their own private entrance to the courthouse and are not subject to even a sideways glance by a hefty deputy. No matter how low on the totem pole, if you are employed by Lubbock County, you get a security bypass badge, even if you do not work at the courthouse. Many who do not work for Lubbock County get badges. If you are a CASA volunteer, or if you work for the Legal Aid Society, or if you are a law student involved in certain clinical programs, or if you are a victim assistance coordinator, or if you work for the company that provides computer services to the Lubbock County, you get a security bypass badge. All peace officers, visiting judges, and out-of-town prosecutors with concealed handgun permits are exempted from screening and don’t need badges. If you are an undercover narcotics cop, you are allowed to walk all the way around the metal detector with a wink and a nod to the grinning deputies. The list of exemptions from security screening goes on and on. The basic rule is this: If you are a friend of Sheriff Rowe, you may pass. The sheriff does not seem to consider private lawyers his friends.
Lubbock lawyers who travel I-27 north on business are greeted with a smile by the deputies at the Hale County Justice Center. We simply flash our bar cards and saunter through the security gates. It is the same story farther north at the Randall County Justice Center and the Potter County Courthouse. Most of the smaller counties on the South Plains have yet to install electronic security, so no time is wasted worrying about security clearances when venturing into the hinterlands.
Lubbock lawyers wonder why we are considered a threat at home but not abroad.
The Lubbock County Frequent Courthouse Visitors Badge Program
Well before the new security measures were implemented, members of the Lubbock Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (LCDLA) met informally with the sheriff in an attempt to establish a procedure to allow private attorneys to bypass security devices. The Tarrant County Criminal Defense Lawyers Association—which spent many years lobbying for a similar badge program that was finally approved in 2015—provided advice, forms, and other assistance. Meetings with the sheriff continued for months, eventually involving the leadership of the Lubbock Area Bar Association (LABA) and then-state senator Robert Duncan to promote a bypass system. However, in October 2012, the sheriff decided private attorneys would not be included among those exempted from his security procedures.
Within a month, the entire Lubbock legal community began a concerted effort to establish a security bypass program to be presented for approval to the Lubbock County Commissioners Court, pursuant to Government Code § 291.010. With LABA and LCDLA as co-sponsors, six bar organizations, representing more than 500 local and area lawyers, joined in the planning and formulation of the Lubbock County Frequent Courthouse Visitors Badge Program (LCFCV).22 The venerable Harris County badge system was used as a template. The LCFCV plan would require applicants to demonstrate frequent use of the courthouse and to undergo a background check. A small fee would be charged for a badge identical to badges used by others exempted from screening.23
Lubbock County Commissioners were individually briefed on the proposal in the fall of 2013, and LCFCV committee members participated in a work session with the full Commissioners Court in early 2014.24 A majority of the commissioners seemed to favor the proposal. Later, LCFCV committee members again met with Sheriff Rowe—at the request of the commissioners—in an attempt to reach a consensus regarding the badge request. The sheriff assured the committee members he would get back to the bar with an agreeable solution, but he never did.
Instead, the sheriff provided the commissioners with a classified report titled “2014 Courthouse Security Review.” After receiving the report in the spring of 2014, commissioners privately informed LCFCV committee members they would not support the LCFCV program. The committee postponed a formal public presentation to the commissioners and requested a copy of the secret report via a Texas Public Information Act request. The open records request was rejected by Lubbock County authorities and upheld by the Texas Attorney General, citing homeland security concerns.
Undeterred, the bar pressed the Lubbock County Commissioners Court for a vote on the proposal. A formal public presentation was rescheduled for October 13, 2014. A media campaign in anticipation of the vote drew favorable public attention to the proposal. Meanwhile, the sponsoring bar associations galvanized their members to lobby individual commissioners, to write letters of support, and to appear and speak at the presentation. On the eve of the meeting, however, the commissioners unexpectedly dropped the proposal from the agenda with a promise to study the issue carefully before rescheduling the matter for consideration.25
The Lubbock County LCFCV effort continues, but the sheriff seems dead-set against giving private lawyers fair access to the courthouse. The commissioners, who have statutory authority to trump the sheriff on this issue, seem unwilling to buck the sheriff. Advocates are exploring new ideas to convince the county fathers to do the right thing.
The Case for Lawyer Badge Access
The main reasons private lawyers should have fair access to courthouses seem obvious. As noted above, it is unfair for certain officers of the court to be treated differently than others. A common scenario illustrates the problem. As a prospective juror shuffles through electronic security shoulder to shoulder with a criminal defense lawyer, a prosecutor and a judge are buzzed through by the courthouse deputies. When the juror later appears in a courtroom with the same three officers of the court, the perception is clear the criminal defense lawyer is less trustworthy than the other two, and maybe a little dangerous. Justice cannot be served under these circumstances.
Also, as discussed above, the checks Texas lawyers write on behalf of their clients every day for court costs pay for electronic courthouse security. If lawyers can be trusted to fund electronic security, why can they not be trusted to bypass electronic security?
On a more practical level, when private lawyers are granted security bypass status, security personnel are able to devote much more attention to those likely to pose a danger at the courthouse. Further, since private lawyers make up the largest bloc of courthouse visitors, granting bypass status eases congestion problems at courthouse entrances, especially first thing in the morning and after the noon recess.
As Brazos County Sheriff Christopher Kirk stated when he recommended a bypass program: “First and foremost, it enhances security through the use of background checks on participating individuals . . . It improves the capabilities of security personnel to be more observant and alert with fewer people going through the scanning process.”26
Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton agrees, “This privilege is meant to expedite our justice system’s level of service to the people of Travis County, Texas.”27
Perhaps the best evidence favoring a badge program is the experience in Harris County. For more than 20 years, the third most populous county in the entire nation has allowed lawyers who have passed a background check to bypass courthouse security, with no serious repercussions.28
Lawyers are not security risks. Lawyers are part of an adversary system designed to be propelled by the written and spoken word, not by physical violence. Others involved in the justice system, like peace officers, are trained to use physical force as part of their jobs, and it is a fair bet civil servants are much more likely to “go postal,” at one point or another, than lawyers. Yet civil servants and peace officers are routinely given free access to courthouses, when private lawyers are not.
The Case Against Lawyer Bypass Badges
The path to reasonable courthouse access is likely to be littered with roadblocks. The bottom line is this: Many sheriffs do not trust lawyers. Every Texas sheriff is entrusted with enforcing courthouse security, and every Texas sheriff is a part of an adversary system in which law enforcement often perceives attorneys as the “bad guys.” Thus, security proposals backed by lawyers—particularly criminal defense lawyers—are often viewed by sheriffs as suspicious.
Lubbock County Sheriff Rowe has battled the effort in a number of ways, attempting to justify his opposition through a litany of untenable positions. First, he was skeptical about how background checks would be conducted and whether the checks could be trusted, until he was confronted with how efficiently the Harris County program’s background checks worked. Next, he worried lawyers could lend badges to unauthorized persons. It was pointed out to the sheriff the bypass badge system currently in place runs the same risk in the event courthouse employees wanted to lend badges to unauthorized persons. He was concerned that no supervisor or boss would closely monitor a private lawyer’s mental and emotional health. Therefore, lawyers have no one with the ability to predict when a lawyer might go crazy, flash a badge to enter the courthouse, and then “go postal.” (We are not making this up.) The sheriff’s “no supervisor” complaint has been his main objection to the LCFCV, even though some private lawyers do have bosses. He was also made aware of the protections afforded by the Texas Lawyers Assistance Program of the State Bar of Texas.29 (Proponents have observed that the sheriff, like many lawyers, has no supervisor. Using the sheriff’s logic, shouldn’t his bypass badge be revoked?)
The sheriff has concern the LCFCV proposal would include non-lawyers. He fears the program would include anyone who wants a badge, opening a Pandora’s Box of security clearances. He ignores the proposal’s application/background check process and the fact an applicant must be a frequent visitor to the courthouse. His position implies he would have no problem with the LCFCV program if it applied only to lawyers, but it seems obvious that is not the case. (Though the proposal allows non-lawyers to apply for badges, proponents have no objection to limiting the program to lawyers.)
The sheriff doubts the accuracy of statistics provided by the LCFCV committee in its proposal, questioning the authenticity of the information regarding which counties have and do not have security bypass programs implemented in their courthouses. Yet the information has been verified several times.
Additionally, the sheriff has expressed a fiscal objection to the proposed LCFCV program. He claims the program would force him to hire additional deputies to safeguard the halls of the courthouse from the lawyers who bypass security. Yet nothing in the proposal would cost the county a dime or necessitate any modification of the current electronic security process. Clearly, the sheriff knows labeling LCFCV as a budget-buster will influence County Commissioners against the proposal.
In his most bizarre position, the sheriff claims he prefers a courthouse security program that would allow everyone into the courthouse, but there would be new security checkpoints at the entrance to each individual courtroom. (The Lubbock County Courthouse contains 18 courtrooms.) This would require the purchase of substantially more electronic equipment and the hiring of many additional deputies, which the commissioners will not fund. Incredibly, his proposal would forego the security already implemented at the courthouse and truly allow everyone open access to the courthouse. Only access to the actual courtrooms would be controlled. The sheriff’s position seems to indicate he is not concerned about securing the hallways of the courthouse—only the courtrooms. Which raises the question: If people can be trusted to wander the hallways of the courthouse unfettered, why such opposition to the LCFCV program?
Ostensibly, the sheriff’s most convincing argument against lawyer bypass badges is this: “You guys have always been screened at the federal courts building. Why should the county courthouse policy be different?” A good answer: “The feds are wrong, too.” A better answer: “The people who made that decision at the federal building don’t have to run for re-election. You do, sheriff.”
Tactics and Resources Available for Courthouse Access Efforts
Although Lubbock County is the current “poster boy” for failure to achieve fair access to the courthouse, the LCFCV committee has gathered a great deal of valuable information in the effort to obtain private attorney bypass badges. The following tactics and resources should be considered when the time comes to convince the powers-that-be to liberate lawyers entering the courthouse.
Texas Public Information Act
It is crucial to know which people bypass security with a badge at the county’s courthouse while lawyers are being denied the right to have one. Close scrutiny of those granted bypass privileges will likely reveal individuals who probably should never have been considered for the privilege. A request under the Texas Public Information Act (“the Act”) asking for a list of persons who have a badge and any applications or forms filled out to receive the badge should provide knowledge of who can bypass security while lawyers stand on the sidelines and look on.30
The Act gives the public the right to request access to government information.31 Moreover, the Act prohibits a governmental entity from inquiring into the reasons or motives for requesting the information.32 The request should be directed to the officer who controls “access” to the courthouse, typically the sheriff—each elected county officer is the officer for public information and the custodian of his or her public information.33 There are no magic words required to trigger a request under the Act.34 The request may be made via email, fax, or traditional post.35 The request may also be verbal.36 However, to avoid a delay, it is best to make the request in writing.37 Also, do not request a photocopy of any badges, as they are confidential and not subject to the Act.38
Information requested must be in existence as of the date of the request.39 The officer for public information must “promptly” produce public information in response to an open records request.40 It is a common misconception that there is a wait of ten business days before releasing the information.41
County officials may assert an exception under the Texas Homeland Security Act. As part of the Texas Homeland Security Act, Sections 418.176–418.182 were added to Chapter 418 of the Government Code.42 These provisions make certain information related to terrorism confidential. Chapter 418 is a statute that can be asserted under Government Code § 552.101 as “information considered to be confidential by law, either constitutional, statutory, or by judicial decision.”43 Citing the “Homeland Security Act” statute, the county’s public information officer may immediately deny a request for information about bypass badges and who holds them.
However, do not relent. Mere recitation of the statute’s key terms is not sufficient to demonstrate the applicability of the claimed provision.44 The fact it may appear the requested information may relate to the security concerns of the sheriff or courthouse administration does not make the information per se confidential.45
Should county officials assert this exception, they would need to comply with the procedural requirements of Government Code § 552.301 and request an attorney general decision.46 The county officials asserting these sections would need to adequately explain how the responsive records fall within the scope of the Texas Homeland Security Act.47 The attorney general must make a decision on the request “not later than the 45th business day after the date the attorney general received the request for a decision.”48
Through Texas Public Information Act requests, the LCFCV committee learned there were more than 500 bypass badges issued in a three-year period. Moreover, the committee learned there is an average of 425 badge “swipes” each day to bypass security at the Lubbock County Courthouse. (The 425-swipe total does not count those who are exempted from screening without badges, such as peace officers.) Knowing how many people possess a bypass badge could allow counterpoints to the idea the security checkpoints are required of virtually everyone—which is not the case in Lubbock. Additionally, with this information in hand, proponents of the LCFCV proposal wonder: With hundreds already bypassing screening each day, what harm could be caused if a few more inoffensive officers of the court bypass security?
Tracking Courthouse Security Incidents
Article 102.017(f) of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure requires all counties to report courthouse security incidents each year. Reports for each county may be accessed at http://www.txcourts.gov/statistics/annual-statistical-reports.aspx. You will likely find very few security incidents were reported, whether your county has electronic security or not. You will also likely find no reports of lawyers being involved in courthouse security incidents.
In 2010, before electronic security was implemented, Lubbock County reported three security incidents at the courthouse. There were none reported in 2011, none in 2012, and six in 2013.49 No reported incident involved violence, and no reported incident involved a lawyer. Meanwhile, the LCFCV committee has documented several incidents involving abusive tactics employed by Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office courthouse deputies targeting lawyers and laymen since 2011.50
The county sheriff and the commissioners are politicians highly motivated to win re-election. Find out the names of their campaign donors—many donors are likely to be lawyers sympathetic to fair courthouse access.51 Donors should be contacted and asked to support efforts to authorize a bypass program for frequent visitors (e.g., lawyers) to the courthouse. Ask donors to contact the politicians, and provide the donors with background information and perhaps form letters to be written to the sheriff and commissioners.
Many local and statewide offices are held by influential lawyers sympathetic to fair courthouse access. These politicians should be encouraged to contact the sheriff and the commissioners to support fair courthouse access efforts.52
Ask for the support of the county attorney/district attorney/criminal DA. Contact the local board of judges and ask them: Do you find criminal defense lawyers to be a threat to the security of this courthouse?53 If the sheriff and every commissioner are buttonholed by lawyers and others wanting fair access to the courthouse several times each day, the cumulative effect might eventually bring success.
Building a coalition of lawyers may be helpful to convince the local sheriff or county commissioners to authorize a screening bypass program. Most larger counties have a variety of bar organizations, including a criminal defense lawyers association, Texas Young Lawyers Association, trial lawyers, women lawyers, etc. Members of these organizations will be sympathetic to efforts to liberalize courthouse access, so getting these bar associations on board should not be a difficult task. In Lubbock County, each of the six local bar associations signed resolutions in favor of the LCFCV program and each association enthusiastically lent support.
When the LCFCV committee began promoting the program to the local media, the most common reaction from reporters was: “The sheriff makes lawyers go through screening to get into the courthouse, but he allows just about everyone else to bypass security? You’re kidding me!” Each story or article published gave favorable coverage to the LCFCV.54
The Idiot Lawyer Problem
The “one bad apple spoils the barrel” maxim applies to private attorneys. As a justification for screening all lawyers, opponents of badge programs will certainly identify a few idiot lawyers who have pulled stupid stunts in the courthouse. In Lubbock County, a lawyer (with a concealed handgun permit) absentmindedly carried his handgun into the courthouse years ago. More recently, a lawyer abused rules prohibiting non-lawyers in certain areas of the courthouse by taking clients and family members into the restricted areas. The answer to the problem, of course, is to withhold badges from known offenders (through background checks) or to take away the badges of the offenders. Good lawyers should not be punished for the sins of idiot lawyers.
In 1996, TCDLA member Michael Gibson filed a writ of habeas corpus, alleging the El Paso County Courthouse electronic security system violated his constitutional and statutory rights. The Court of Appeals denied relief in a wide-ranging decision interpreting the United States and Texas Constitutions, and Articles 14 and 15 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.55 The opinion includes an excellent review of the law on the subject, but the bad news is there appears to be no legitimate civil cause of action to obtain unfettered access to the courthouse.56
There is no good reason lawyers should be denied fair access to their workplaces. Nor should lawyers be subjected to a quirky mishmash of capricious screening policies in courthouses across the state. The collection and sharing of information on efforts to implement progressive courthouse security policies should be something we all strive for, either as individuals or collectively through TCDLA.
1. Of the 254 Texas counties, researchers seeking information from county judge offices about courthouse security policies ran into problems in about 20 jurisdictions. Researchers could not reach several county judge offices by telephone despite numerous calls, and some offices had no answering services. Others refused to return repeated calls. Researchers asking the simple question, “Does your courthouse have electronic security?” were asked to submit to background checks by some county officials.
2. The map associated with this article is an illustration of the known courthouse security policies of Texas counties. The map and information contained in this article were compiled through independent surveys conducted by the Lubbock Area Bar Association’s Courthouse Security Committee via the TCDLA listserve and by inquiries of county office holders and lawyers across the state in 2014–2015.
3. LABA Courthouse Security Committee Survey 2014–2015.
4. Dave Schulman wrote a wry blog on the subject a couple of years ago in the Texas Law Reporter: “Courthouse Security Screening: Is There a Method to This Madness?” 45 Tex. L.Rep. (2013), available at http://www.texindbar.org/featuredarticles/13-1111%20Courthouse%20Security.pdf.
5. “Gunman Kills 2 Men and Injures 3 in Rampage at Texas Courthouse,” New York Times (Jul. 2, 1992), http://www.nytimes.com/1992/07/02/us/gunman-kills-2-men-and-injures-3-in-rampage-at-texas-courthouse.html.
6. “Texas Executes Former Lawyer Who Killed Two in Courtroom,” New York Times (Sep. 21, 1994), http://www.nytimes.com/1994/09/21/us/texas-executes-former-lawyer-who-killed-two-in-courtroom.html.
9. Tex. H.B. 667, 79th Leg., R.S. (2005).
10. Tex. Code Crim. Proc. § 102.017.
11. Tex. Gov’t Code § 101.0615 (West 2005).
12. Comm’rs Court of Caldwell County v. Criminal Dist. Attorney, Caldwell County, 690 S.W.2d 932, 933 (Tex. App.—Austin 1985, writ ref’d n.r.e.).
13. Randall County Comm’rs Court v. Sherrod, 854 S.W.2d 914, 921 (Tex. App.—Amarillo1993, no writ).
14. Commissioner’s Court, Budget of Harris County, Fiscal Year 2014 (2013). Available at http://ow.ly/KizJ0.
15. Commissioner’s Court, Budget of Lubbock County, Fiscal Year 2014 (2013). Available at: http://www.co.lubbock.tx.us/egov/docs/1386255910_905120.pdf.
16. Commissioner’s Court, Budget of Coryell County, Fiscal Year 2014 (2013). Available at http://www.coryellcounty.org/media/2897/fy2014_budget.pdf.
17. Anderson v. Wood, 137 Tex. 201, 204, 152 S.W.2d 1084, 1085–86 (1941).
18. Tex. Att’y Gen. Op. No. O-2444 (1940).
19. Tex. Loc. Gov’t Code Ann. § 291.010 (West 2005).
20. Tex. Loc. Gov’t Code Ann. § 291.010, amended by H.B. 3003, 82nd Leg., Reg. Sess. (Tex. 2011).
21. The sheriff’s current courthouse screening policy may be accessed at LCDLA.org; see “Lubbock County Courthouse Screening Policy for Department Heads,” Lubbock Crim. Def. Law. Ass’n. (Apr. 15,2014), http://lcdla.org/2014/04/15/lubbock-county-courthouse-screening-policy-department-heads/.
22. The program is co-sponsored by the Lubbock Area Bar Association (LABA) and the Lubbock Criminal Defense Lawyers Association. In addition, the Lubbock County Young Lawyers Association, the Lubbock Women Lawyers Association, the South Plains Trial Lawyers Association, and the West Texas Bankruptcy Bar Association have passed resolutions in favor of the measure.
23. The LCFCV program may be accessed at LCDLA.org. The LCFCV would create a program in which lawyers may undergo a voluntary background check and be issued an identification badge each year, which would allow access to the Lubbock County Courthouse without being required to be electronically screened. The badge program would be administered by the Lubbock Area Bar Association or the Lubbock County Court Administrator. A small fee would be charged for a visitor’s badge.
24. Members of the LCFCV Program committee include Lubbock lawyers Gary Bellair, Charles Blevins, Aaron Clements, Bob Craig, Bill Franklin, Sarah Gunter (vice chair), David Hazlewood, Dan Hurley, Chuck Lanehart (chair), Anna McKim, Mark Snodgrass, Fred Stangl, Steve Stone, Tommy Turner, and Bill Wischkaemper.
25. Gabriel Monte, “Presentation for Frequent Visitor Program at Lubbock County Courthouse Postponed,” Lubbock Avalanche J. (Oct. 8, 2014), http://lubbockonline.com/local-news/2014-10-08/presentation-frequent-visitor-program-lubbock-county-courthouse-postponed.
26. Letter from Brazos County Sheriff Kirk to Brazos County Commissioners, October 3, 2011.
27. Travis County Sheriff’s Office Courthouse Security 2015–2016 Attorney Identification Card Application.
28. Resident Population Estimates for the 100 Largest U.S. Counties Based on July 1, 2011, Population Estimates: April 1, 2010, to July 1, 2011, U.S. Census Bureau, http://www.census.gov/popest/data/counties/totals/2011/tables/CO-EST2011-07.csv (last visited Mar. 2, 2015).
30. This information is narrowly tailored for the request of badges and may not apply to all types of information available under the Texas Public Information Act.
31. Tex. Gov’t Code Ann. § 552.001 (West 2005).
32. Id., § 552.222.
33. Id., § 552.201.
34. Moore v. Collins, 897 S.W.2d 496 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 1995).
35. Gov’t § 552.301(c) (West 2005).
37. Open Records Decision No. 304 at 2 (1982) (A government entity that receives a verbal request for information can require the request be written).
38. Gov’t § 552.139.
39. Id., § 552.221(a); see Dominguez v. Gilbert, 48 S.W.3d 789 (Tex. App.—Austin 2001, no pet.); Tex. Att’y Gen. OR2000-665.
40. Gov’t § 552.221(a); see Dominguez v. Gilbert, 48 S.W.3d 789 (Tex. App.—Austin 2001); Open Records Decision No. 665 (2000).
41. Dominguez, 48 S.W.3d 789.
42. Gov’t § 418.176.
43. Id., §552.101.
44. Tex. Att’y Gen. OR 1996-649 at 3.
46. Gov’t § 552.301.
47. See, generally, Id., § 552.301(e)(1)(A).
48. Id., § 552.306(a).
49. The Office of Court Administration website, http://www.txcourts.gov/, reports incidents of courthouse violence statewide. The 2014 county-by-county statistics are not yet available, but the number of security-related courthouse incidents statewide for 2014 totals 132.
50. One such incident occurred in the spring of 2014. Lubbock lawyer Terri Morgeson complained to Sheriff Rowe that one of his courthouse security deputies was abusive to her as she passed through screening. She wrote a letter in which she warned the sheriff never to arm the deputy, as he would surely harm someone. The sheriff ignored the letter, and the deputy remained on duty. A couple of months later, the deputy was arrested for discharging a firearm in a municipality and was fired from the Sheriff’s Office. He was later convicted of the Class A misdemeanor, was placed on probation, and was required to surrender his peace officer’s license. The sheriff has never acknowledged his lapse in judgment, nor has he apologized to the lawyer involved.
51. Candidates for sheriff and county commission are required to file annual personal financial disclosure statements with the county clerk. The statements must be made available for public inspection during regular business hours. Local Gov’t Code §§ 159.003, 159.052.
52. Lubbock County proponents are indebted to former State Senator Robert Duncan (current chancellor of the Texas Tech University System) and former Texas State Board of Education member Bob Craig, both of whom lobbied the sheriff for lawyer bypass badges. More recently, retired United States Magistrate J. Q. Warnick Jr. also assisted in the effort.
53. Lubbock County proponents of the LCFCV program were disappointed that the local CDA, Matt Powell, and the Lubbock County Board of Judges refused to support the program. However, several judges promised to lobby the Lubbock County Commissioners in support of the program, including Judges Trey McClendon, Judy Parker, and Mark Hocker.
54. Gabriel Monte, “Skip the Line: Lubbock Defense Attorneys Propose Bypass Program for Frequent Courthouse Visitors” (Sep. 24, 2014) http://lubbockonline.com/filed-online/2014-09-24/skip-line-lubbock-defense-attorneys-propose-bypass-program-frequent; “Lubbock County Courthouse Regulars Asking for Speedy Screening Process,” FOX 34 News (Oct. 10, 2014), http://www.myfoxlubbock.com/news/local/story/Lubbock-County-Courthouse-regulars-asking-r/U4Nm9wdro0aUjEmXLVU7HA.cspx?rss=2345.
55. Gibson v. State, 921 S.W.2d 747, 754 (Tex.App.—El Paso 1996, writ denied).