Texas Attorney General Opinion: GA-0569 Page: 2 of 4
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The Honorable Marsha Monroe - Page 2
The third aspect of incompatibility-conflicting loyalties--occurs only when each position
is an "office." See Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. GA-0536 (2007) at 3. A person is an "officer" if"any
sovereign function of government is conferred upon the individual to be exercised by him for the
benefit of the public largely independent of the control of others." Aldine Indep. Sch. Dist. v.
Standley, 280 S.W.2d 578, 583 (Tex. 1955). Under the standard of Aldine, it is clear that a county
emergency medical services employee, ultimately subject to the direction and control of the
commissioners court, does not hold an office. Thus, conflicting loyalties incompatibility does not
bar a justice of the peace from simultaneously serving as a county emergency medical services
Even though no legal incompatibility exists, conflict may still arise between the duties of the
two positions. For example, in a county without a medical examiner's office, a justice of the peace
may have the duty to perform an inquest into the death of a person. See TEX. CODE CRIM. PROC.
ANN. arts. 49.02, .04 (Vernon 2006). Inquests may involve review of actions taken by emergency
medical staff. See, e.g., Tex. Att'y Gen. LO-97-033, at 1 (relating to a justice of the peace seeking
access to ambulance "run sheets" in connection with a death investigation). Additionally, there may
be other circumstances in which the jurisdiction of the justice court brings the justice of the peace
in contact with emergency medical personnel and the emergency medical services division. To that
end, we note that the Code of Judicial Conduct and other ethical considerations may be implicated
by the dual service at issue here. See, e.g., TEX. CODE JUD. CONDUCT, Canon 4A(1)-(2), reprinted
in TEX. GOV'T CODE ANN., tit. 2, subtit. G app. B (Vernon 2005) (providing that extra-judicial.
activities should not: "(1) cast reasonable doubt on the judge's capacity to act impartially as ajudge;
or (2) interfere with the proper performance of judicial duties"); id. Canon 4D(1) ("A judge shall
refrain from financial and business dealings that tend to reflect adversely on the judge's impartiality,
interfere with the proper performance of the judicial duties, . . . or involve the judge in frequent
transactions with . .. persons likely to come before the court ... ."). The justice of the peace of
whom you inquire may wish to consult with the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct regarding
this dual service. See TEX. CONST. art. V, 1-a(2), 6(A), (8) (providing that the Commission is
responsible, in the first instance, for applying the judicial canons to specific conduct by judges).
Your second question is whether ajustice of the peace holds a full-time position and is thus
eligible for county employee benefits. See Request Letter, supra note 1, at 1. You explain that the
Terrell County Handbook defines "full-time employees" as those employees regularly employed
thirty or more hours per week and that "the Justice of the Peace position has not [historically]
required that the JP work 30 hours per week." Id. at 1-2.
The County Handbook's provisions regarding the benefits bestowed upon full-time
employees are not applicable to a justice of the peace. A justice of the peace is not an employee of
the county. Rather, the position of justice of the peace is an elected office established by the Texas
Constitution. See TEX. CONST. art. V, 18.
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Texas. Attorney-General's Office. Texas Attorney General Opinion: GA-0569, text, 2007; (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth275465/m1/2/: accessed December 11, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.