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Relating to associate judges for guardianship proceedings and protective services proceedings in certain courts.
No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.
SB 536 would establish a system of regional specialized guardianship courts for the purpose of assisting under-sourced counties in handling these cases. This bill would require the presiding judge of each administrative judicial region to consult with county courts and statutory courts with jurisdiction over guardianship proceedings or protective services proceedings to determine whether those courts require the appointment of an associate judge to assist the courts in conducting guardianship proceedings. This bill also describes the qualifications and terms of these associate judges.
During their term of employment the associate judge must live in the county or in an adjacent county. The bill would require the county to pay the associate judge 90% of the salary of a district judge. The salary will be from state and federal funds, as well as county money available for payment of officers salaries, subject to the approval of the commissioners courts of the counties in which the associate judge serves.
proceedings or protective services proceedings shall be referred to
an associate judge by a general order issued by the judge of each court where the associate judge is appointed to serve; or by a general order issued by the presiding judge or
judges of the administrative judicial region or regions who
appointed the associate judge. On
the motion of a party or the associate judge, an associate judge may
refer a complex guardianship proceeding back to the referring court
for final disposition after recommending temporary orders for the
protection of a ward. An associate judge may: render and sign any pretrial order; and recommend to the referring court any order after a
trial on the merits.
This is an issue of judicial administration that is within the proper role of the state to consider but which does not appear to affect our liberty principles. For these reasons we remain neutral on SB 536.