Article V, Section 9 of the Texas Constitution ("District Clerks")

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As amended November 2, 1999:

There shall be a Clerk for the District Court of each county, who shall be elected by the qualified voters and who shall hold his office for four years, subject to removal by information, or by indictment of a grand jury, and conviction of a petit jury. In case of vacancy, the Judge of the District Court shall have the power to appoint a Clerk, who shall hold until the office can be filled by election.

Editor Comments

The district clerks are the chief administrative officers of the district courts. In 1954, the term of office for district clerks was increased to four years.

In counties with more than one district court, only one district clerk is elected and he or she serves as clerk for all of the district courts in the county.

Attorney Steve Smith

Recent Decisions

  • Deleon v. District Clerk, 187 S.W.3d 473, 474 (Tex.Crim.App. 2006) ("The respondent, the District Clerk of Lynn County, advised this Court that approximately three to four years ago the clerk's office stopped accepting inmate correspondence that had not been inspected for the presence of anthrax. . . . An applicant for habeas corpus relief has a constitutional right to access to courts as well as a statutory right to file an application for writ of habeas corpus with the district clerk. Tex. Const., art. I, § 12; Tex. Code Crim. Proc., art. 11.07, § 3(b). Furthermore, only the legislature has the right to suspend statutory laws. Tex. Const., art. I, § 28.")

Historic Decisions

  • Duclos v. Harris County, 263 S.W. 562, 563 (Tex. 1924) ("Can the fact that it is included in the provisions of a general law creating a new court in a county in which a clerk for all district courts was already provided and his compensation fixed under a general law, the same as for all other clerks in like counties, change its nature and effect from that of a special and local law? We think not. To so hold would be to look to the form and not the spirit and purpose of the law. The provision under consideration certainly does single out the district clerk of Harris county and provide for him a salary or compensation as district clerk different from that of any or all like district clerks in the state.")
  • Lytle v. Halff, 12 S.W. 610, 613 (Tex. 1889) ("It is urged that article 5, § 9 . . . . The act in question provides that the clerk of the district court for Bexar county shall perform, in two courts, the duties which the law imposes on such clerks in every county in the state, and neither enlarges nor restricts the powers and duties imposed by law on that officer. Difficulties in the way of appointment to that office in case of vacancy are suggested, but these are not insuperable, and arise on a supposed state of facts which cannot exist without failure of duty on the part of the judges. Such considerations ought not to be given a controlling influence in determining a question of legislative power.")
  • Banton v. Wilson, 4 Tex. 400, 410 (1849) ("The statutes of 1846 did not prescribe any fixed period for elections of county officers after the first election for that . . . . The tenure of several of the county officers is fixed by the Constitution, and the incumbent elected to fill the office or a vacancy is entitled to hold to the full end and term of the period guaranteed by the Constitution. There is no probability that all the incumbents of county offices would hold the entire term. Vacancies by death, resignation, or otherwise must in the nature of things be of frequent occurrence; and if they be filled by election, the incumbent is secured for the constitutional limit in the enjoyment of the office.")

Library Resources

Online Resources