Texas Attorney General Opinion: LO96-111 Page: 1 of 2
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Office of thje Sttornep general
6tate of Ecxas
ATTORNEY GENERAL October 28, 1996
The Honorable Tim Cone Letter Opinion No. 96-111
Criminal District Attorney
Upshur County Justice Center Re: Whether a commissioners court may
405 North Titus Street decline to permit a particular individual to
Gilmer, Texas 75644 speak at a public meeting (ID# 38709)
Dear Mr. Cone:
You ask whether a commissioners court may refuse to hear a person who wishes
to complain at a meeting of the court about the lack of maintenance of a county road.
As you suggest in your brief, we think that the commissioners court has broad
discretion in exercising its statutory powers under the Local Government Code, and may
limit the number of persons who may speak on a topic and the length and frequency of
their presentations. However, it must act reasonably and may not discriminate on the basis
of the particular views expressed, nor arbitrarily deny citizens their right to apply to the
government for redress of grievances by "petition, address or remonstrance," as
guaranteed by article I, section 27 of the Texas Constitution. It must also comply with the
Open Meetings Act, chapter 551 of the Government Code, which requires among other
things, that "[e]very regular, special, or called meeting of a governmental body shall be
open to the public ... ." Gov't Code 551.002.
The commissioners court as a whole has the authority to determine its own
agenda. Attorney General Opinions DM-228 (1993) at 2-3, JM-63 (1983) at 1. The
court may adopt reasonable rules consistent with relevant provisions of law--including,
among other things, the Open Meetings Act--to govern the conduct of its meetings.
Attorney General Opinion DM-228 (1993) at 3. The court may limit the number,
frequency, and length of presentations to it. Attorney General Opinion H-188 (1973) at 2.
We note that, as Attorney General Opinion H-188 points out, the Open Meetings Act
does not of itself give citizens the right to participate in a public meeting, but only the right
to observe it. However, if the commissioners has adopted a policy of opening the floor to
citizen comment, Attorney General Opinion H-188 counsels that such a policy must be
administered in an even-handed fashion, and that the commissioners may not discriminate
against a particular point of view. Such limits as the commissioners court adopts must not
be arbitrary or unreasonable, and must not unfairly discriminate among views seeking
We cannot speak to the question of any particular exercise of the court's power,
since that would require factual determinations we cannot make in the opinion process.
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Texas. Attorney-General's Office. Texas Attorney General Opinion: LO96-111, text, October 28, 1996; (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth277144/m1/1/: accessed October 26, 2021), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.