May 08, 2015, 13:15Craig Caldwell
Assistant prosecutor's bar dues
I've been questioned by our auditor concerning payment of the assistant county attorney's state bar dues by the County. It has been done for several years and the auditor now feels it was done in error. I disagree. How many pay assistant's dues?
May 11, 2015, 10:47Scott Brumley
We pay our assistants' bar dues from county funds budgeted for that purpose. In Op. Tex. Att'y Gen. No. JM-313 (1985), the AG opined that hot check funds could not be used to pay bar dues directly, but the amount for bar dues could be paid as additional compensation from hot check funds. Id. at 11. However, in Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. JM-1063 (1989), the AG rejected the reasoning of JM-313 as to the constitutionality of governmental payment of work-related dues. Id. at 3. Instead, the AG reaffirmed the reasoning of Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. MW-251 (1980) at 2, concluding that payment of dues is permissible if the expenditure is "directly and substantially related to the performance of the state's governmental function." JM-1063, at 3. Opinion JM-313 had concluded that payment of assistant prosecutors' state bar dues could be seen as necessary to facilitate their performance of official duties, but simply noted that they were of such a nature that they could not be seen as office expenses. Opinion JM-1063 declined to overrule JM-313, but did not accept the distinction as a constitutional bar to payment of dues.