Commissioners Court Subverts the Constitution

Dec 6, 2017
By: Jerry A. Goodson
In: Politics

Voters matter to elected officials... unless you live in Cameron County, Texas!  The voters were betrayed by the Commissioners Court, the Precinct 5 Justice Court judges, and Precinct 3 Constable Adrian Gonzalez.

There are only two elected law enforcement officers specifically named in the Texas Constitution:  the sheriff, and the constable.  Generally, across the State of Texas, if the commissioners could get rid of the constables in their county, they would.

Statutorily, the constable has only two required duties:  to serve process issued by the justice court in his or her precinct, and to serve as bailiff in the justice courts in his or her precinct.  Beyond that, the constable can do as much or as little as desired in regards to enforcing the law.

Inasmuch as the sheriff is responsible for the security of the county courts in his or her county, the constable is responsible for the security of the justice courts in his or her precinct. Court security is not up to the court justices.  The only discretion a precinct court justice has (Justice of the Peace) is the court security fund… a certain amount of money collected by the justice court for certain fines.

The constable is elected by the voters in his or her precinct.  The office of the constable is a separate and autonomous agency… just like the sheriff’s office.  The constable is the head of that agency. 

Try telling that to the commissioners in Cameron County, Texas!

This morning, I received an email with a copy of a request for opinion from the Attorney General’s Office that was submitted by Cameron County District Attorney Luis V. Saenz submitted on behalf of Cameron County Precinct 5 Constable Eddie Solis. LINK

The request included text of an interdepartmental memo issued by the Commissioners Court directing the Precinct 3 Constable to carry the commission of bailiffs hired by the two of the three individual Precinct 5 justices.  The supervision of the bailiffs would fall under their respective Justice of the Peace, and not with the constable that was directed to carry their commission.

Correction 07-DEC-2017 6:55pm:  I was contacted by the Honorable Sallie Gonzales, Cameron County Justice of the Peace Precinct 5 Place 1.  She informed me she had the same bailiff for the past 18 years, and was quite happy with him.  Her bailiff is a Precinct 5 Deputy Constable.

This isn’t some kind of legal loophole, this is flat out subversion of the laws and Constitution of the State of Texas!  It directly undermines the office of the constable and an insult by the commissioners of the voters in his precinct!

The relationship between the Commissioners Court and the Office of the Constable is not typically amicable.  A few years ago, Travis County Precinct 5 Constable Carlos Lopez gave a presentation at a conference that was attended by county judges from all over the state.  He used up all of his allotted time to speak, but announced he would be available on the side to field questions.  More than one county judge sought out Constable Lopez to ask, “How do we get rid of our constables?”  (The answer was, of course, “you can’t.”)

During my term as constable, I was denied a measly $100/wk increase for fuel to perform my duties.  I was paid a total of $1325/mo, and I had to pay all of my expenses out of that money, and by the time it was all said and done, I was paying more to do the job than I was paid by the county.  A commissioner remarked to me, in open court, "Well shame on you for doing a good job."

It’s understandable the Commissioners Court generated the un-Constitutional memo that undermine’s the office of Cameron County Precinct 5 Constable.  Commissioners all over the state have exercised calculated hostilities toward constables as a matter of semi-common practice.  

Egregious Betrayal by the Constable

Cameron County Precinct 3 Constable Adrian Gonzalez signed the memorandum on November 6, 2017 and agreed to the direct Constitutional violation by the Commissioners Court!  Constable Gonzalez betrayed his service as the elected constable, and violated his oath of office to “preserve, protect and defnd the Constitution and Laws of the United States and the STATE OF TEXAS.” 

I’m not a lawyer, so I cannot attest to the criminal implications, but there are certainly moral and ethical violations that should have his voters enraged in a vitriolic frenzy!  Constable Gonzalez should have known better.  If he didn’t, he’s incompetent.  If he did, he’s a traitor to his office and his profession.  In either case, the voters should be pursuing filing a petition in district court to have him removed from office for lack of confidence.

The Cameron County Commissioners broke the rules, and now, they await the opinion of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on the matter.  

I would be interested on how the Justice of the Peace and Constables Association (JPCA) would weigh in?

Update:  Wednesday, December 6, 2017 6:25pm

I found Cameron County Precinct 3 Constable Adrian Gonzalez' facebook page.  I included a link to this article with a pretty bad admonishment concerning his betrayal of his office and his profession.  When I submitted the post, would you believe he censors posts to his page?

Cameron County Precinct 3 Constable Adrian Gonzalez censors his social media sites

I'm sure glad he's not MY constable!

Update: Wednesday, December 6, 2017 6:45pm

Not all for naught, Constable Adrian Gonzalez apparently doesn't censor comments on his posts.  I successfully replied to his post you can see pictured above in the grayed out background with this post:

Update: Wednesday, December 6, 2017 9:15pm

My comment was deleted from his page, and I have been blocked from posting/commenting/messaging.  It appears I may have some legal recourse, but all the while, I continue to wonder the extent of the incompetence of Constable Adrian Gonzalez?

Article: Are Politicians Facebook Comments Public Record

Please note:  I didn't even know where Cameron County was before this morning.  I don't have a dog in this hunt beyond the maltreatment of Constable Adrian Gonzalez on social media.

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