Texas Attorney General Opinion: WW-1454 Page: 1 of 3
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rrTORNEY GENERAL October 19, 1962
Mr Joe Resweber Opinion No. WW-1454
Harris County Courthouse Re: Whether the county court
Houston, Texas under Article 5547-38, Ver-
non's Civil Statutes, can
commit an individual, found
to be mentally ill, to a men-
tal hospital for a period not
to exceed any specific number
Dear Mr. Resweber: of days less than 90 days.
You have requested an opinion regarding the authority
of the County Court, to commit a person for a period of any
specific number of days less than 90 days, consistent with the
provisions of Article 5547-38, Vernon's Civil Statutes.
The applicable portion of Article 5547-38, Vernon's
Civil Statutes, states in part:
". . .the court shall order that the mentally
ill person be committed as a patient for observation
and/or treatment in a mental hospital for a period
not exceeding ninety (90) days." (Emphasis added)
In construing statutes the courts of this State have
held consistent with Article 10 1), Vernon's Civil Statutes, that
the natural and commonly understood meaning will be given to words
used in a statute unless it is plain or clear from the statute as
a whole that such construction would defeat the manifest intention
of the Legislature.
The phrase "not exceeding ninety (90) days" has an
ordinary and common meaning denoting a maximum that cannot be
exceeded but which necessarily authorizes any lesser period of
time. Consistent with this generally understood meaning, the
words "not exceeding" have been characterized as words of limi-
tation, and, standing alone are ordinarily construed as such.
City of Kingaville v. Meredith, 103 F.2d 279 ( C.C.A. 5th, 1939).
In Brockelhurst v. State, 195 Ark. 67, 111 S.W.2d 527
(1937), the appellant questioned the trial courts' authority to
commit him for a period not to exceed 15 days where the statute
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Texas. Attorney-General's Office. Texas Attorney General Opinion: WW-1454, text, October 19, 1962; (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth268067/m1/1/: accessed December 13, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.